I’ve been involved with the independent music scene in Cape Breton since the turn of the century (I’m desperately trying to make this term mean 1999/2000). I went to my first show at Gobblefest in 1999. My cousin, Glenn, was playing with his band After School Special and we went as a family right after going to church. I was twelve years old and wearing my Sunday best. Over the next six years I went to more and more shows, found my community, developed lifelong friends, played in a band, fostered my creative side, and developed into the person I am today. Of course, like most people who were a part of that community, I stopped going to all ages shows as much when I started going to bar shows when I turned eighteen (I don’t promote sneaking into bar shows underage, but I won’t say I didn’t do it).
At some point between graduating from high school and graduating from university, all ages shows slowed down. Blame it on the economy. Blame it on negative net youth migration. Blame it on lazy young people. Blame it on computers and gameboys and MTV and the government. It’s fun to point a finger wildly sometimes. It doesn’t matter why all ages shows became less frequent, they just did. In the last couple years, there has been a group of amazing people who are trying to help young people showcase their musical artistry by volunteering their time, their equipment, their sanity, and their time to put on shows. I am incredibly proud that I am a part of that group and that I’ve had the opportunity to see new bands form and rock out over the last couple years.
This has been an amazing period in my life and has reached an amazing climax during the weekend of May 9 at an all ages show at the New dawn Centre for Social Innovation. The show opened by starting on time, as isn’t the tradition with shows of any kind. Kennedy Dale kicked off the show with her incredible voice as the room slowly started to fill. By the end of her set the room was full of wonderful people who were attentively listening and cheering.
Up next Blair Lucas took the stage. Lucas has been an active musician in the Cape Breton music scene for at least the last five years. During that time he has played more sets than anybody I can think of. Lucas goes to every open mic, plays any set he can get his hands on at the farmers’ market, volunteers to open up for every band at Governor’s, and recently debuted his new band. Lucas is easily one of the hardest working musicians in Cape Breton and all that work is definitely paying off. Next up was Turpentine.
I was excited to check Turpentine out for a few reasons: they’re new, they’re punk, they’re young, and they’re female. There aren’t a whole lot of young female punk bands around, and by that I mean there aren’t any and really haven’t been any. I was just excited to see them play and the fact that they existed. I didn’t even care if they were any good at all, being that it was their first show. But then they played and blew everybody’s minds. They played an amazingly tight straight punk set. As a two-piece band, they have a fantastically full sound, trading off vocals, drums, and guitar. I’m very excited to see more of Turpentine in the future.
Next up was Mauno. My anticipation to see Mauno was pretty high. I have seen Nick Everett play with several different iterations in the past and have been amazed at every song and every set. Having heard from several people that Mauno was Nick’s best work yet, I couldn’t help but set my hopes unattainably high. Somehow Mauno exceeded even those expectations. With amazing harmonies, beautiful drumming, and time signatures that throw you just outside of your comfort zone enough to keep your grooving on point, all backing up brilliantly written songs, Mauno is an amazing band that I want to see every opportunity I can.
Ending the show was Keith Doom and the Wrecking Crew. There’s a reason that there’s a really good turnout for every show that KDWC plays. They put on an amazing high energy show that’s backed up by legitimately good songs. The audience during a Keith Doom set feels like the kind of audience that I craved as a young punk. High energy, sing-along hardcore, with a crowd of people that felt like a community.
I’m so excited that there is a new community of young musicians and musically-inclined young people that I can comfortably say that there is an all-ages scene in Cape Breton.