BY NORMA JEAN MACPHEE
And on it goes…
The ECMAs are in full swing. Singers are losing their voices, cell phones are ablaze and the music—well, the music is flowing.
Friday evening started off with a beyond stellar songwriters’ circle at the Cape Breton Yacht Club. Lennie Gallant’s voice wafted up to me as soon as I entered the building. He—along with Dave Gunning, Kim Dunn and Thom Swift—held the crowd in rapture for a solid two hours. Packed to standing room only, I managed to watch Dave Gunning express himself via a mirror on one of the pillars. The combination for their four voices, guitars and the piano was incredible.
Then off to the Upstairs for a family treat: Flo Sampson, Amy Sampson, Gordie Sampson, and their cousin, Keith Mullins. Re-creating a slice of the many family parties held over the years, the talented bloodline let loose with everything from Flo’s “Flip Flop and Fly” to Amy’s rendition of “Oh Suzanna”. Most often seen behind the drums, Keith stepped out from time to time to play guitar and sing his own tunes Friday night. His song “She Would Play” is a tribute to Flo and her endless energy while playing piano and singing during family parties. It was a lovely, lovely moment of songs. Keith and Amy continued on with Caledonia. Amy Sampson’s strong voice and blending harmonies are a treat for the ear, too seldom heard!
Back at the Yacht Club, CBU hosted a CD launch party featuring the tunes of a CD recorded by the University’s Centre for Cape Breton Studies. Dave Sampson, Breagh MacKinnon and Anita MacDonald were among the musicians on stage. All proceeds from the CD sales go toward a CBU scholarship. Dave Sampson released a CD literally just this past week. Breagh MacKinnon has yet to release an album, but is a prolific writer and a poised performer. A unique voice, Ani DiFranco-esque, but still with a quality all her own. And Anita MacDonald? She ripped ‘er up on the fiddle. Talent abounds.
The Curling Club was packed to capacity with folks out to enjoy one of the many no-cases of the weekend. I managed to catch the magnificent Gabriel brothers who are Everyone in Cars. Adam on drums and Michael on electric guitar create a tight, tight set that perhaps is enhanced by the familial ties. Original no-case players from back in 1995, it was great to witness them in action.
From there, I leap-frogged back to the other end of town to Governors, but not before catching a delicious nourishment and coffee at Flavor. Along with the tasty food, the ambiance is fetching—a shangri la of a pit stop amidst the fray.
Jay Smith is rock. Many remember him as Rock Ranger Jay. Then he played lead guitar with Matt Mays for the past few years. Now he’s back as a front man and wow. Along with some of the players from El Torpedo, Jay rocked the place. Musical synchronicity embellished by the love of the craft. Love of the pure rock! Jay Smith and his band are to be experienced.
On the heels of Jay’s set, Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel took it away, in perhaps their tightest set ever. A fella standing next to me said, “Heart, all heart, that boy, all heart.” And indeed, that is what it was. From all the guys. Flying fingers and an abundance of talent.
And that’s just Friday. Time to get back into the fray!