Featuring acts from Cape Breton, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and mainland Nova Scotia, the House of Rock Party will once again challenge the notion that Atlantic Canadian music is only about sea shanties and fiddle tunes.
The East Coast Music Association’s annual conference and award show is one of the most important showcases of talent in Canadian music. This year’s event, scheduled for February 13-16 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will host a variety of showcases, concerts, and seminars throughout the city leading up to the nationally broadcast Awards show on Sunday night. Among all those events, one stands out as a not-to-be-missed showcase of independent talent from Atlantic Canada – the House of Rock Party, 9pm – 3am at the Seahorse Tavern, Friday February 14.
“A lot of great music has passed through the ‘House of Rock’ in the last couple of years,” says former resident Dave Mahalik, a statement reflected by the list of acts scheduled to perform at the Seahorse Tavern Friday night. “Bands like Lizband, who are practically an institution of independent rock. They’ve been making their own records and videos for ten years, now. And Mark Bragg, whose debut album has been recognized with two ECMA nominations this year and a spot on the awards show. There’s award-winning songwriter Colleen Power, a multiple ECMA nominee in 2002 who also performed on the televised Awards Show and Eyes For Telescopes who are nominated in the Alternative Group category for the second year in a row. With Halifax-based scrap-rockers The Burdocks and the unbeatable live show of cut and paste darling Windom Earle, there will be no question about the diversity of ‘non-traditional’ music on the East Coast. And, of course the Cape Bretoners, Slowcoaster and Rock Ranger, who are both getting ready to release new albums this spring – building on the fan-base each has established with their independent recordings and relentless touring throughout the Atlantic Provinces.”
The House of Rock has been making a name for itself in Atlantic Canada since the East Coast Music Awards were held in Sydney in 2000, when it literally was a house full of musicians, writers, photographers and graphic designers including members of independent bands Rock Ranger and Slowcoaster and spawning the creation of fan favourite outlaw hillbilly heroes the Squatters. That insurgence of other islanders led to an informal band exchange, when a trip to St. John’s for the Peace-A-Chord by the aforementioned House bands was reciprocated by Newfoundland singer Colleen Power who would stay at the sometimes noisy yellow house on George Street in Sydney’s historic north end while touring her award-winning debut album Lucky You Are. It became a stopping place where musicians traveling through Cape Breton could find a place to stay, get help with booking and promoting shows in the area and even pick up backing musicians. Other musicians, from New Brunswick, PEI, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta would also take advantage of the location and the residents of the House were surprised at how well-received was their hospitality and helpfullness. The House was put up for sale in the Summer of 2002 and vacant since October, though there is unconfirmed word now that it’s been sold. The House of Rock has transformed itself from a residence of independent artists to a music industry support company, on a mission to help establish the music industry infrastructure necessary for independent musicians from Atlantic Canada and beyond to concentrate on making music.
“We’ll be using the experience, expertise and resources we’ve accumulated during three years living there to support the efforts of bands like Slowcoaster and Rock Ranger and also other musicians who can benefit from the services we can provide. Putting this show on at the Seahorse during ECMA, bringing attention to some of the best independent bands on the East Coast, and particpating in the ECMA EXPO tradeshow are like showing what we can do by doing it. ”
If you’re in town for the ECMA, visit House of Rock at the ECMA EXPO, Saturday, February 15, 10 am – 5 pm at the World Trade and Convention Centre.
The House of Rock Party is made possible with the generous assistance of CBC Cape Breton, Musicstop Cape Breton and Chandler’s Lounge in Sydney.