Friday, February 14th, 1997
Slainte Mhath i.k.macleod
On that wonderful day of love and leisure we call Valentines, I found myself amongst a large crowd of elementary children. No, I was not ‘courting’, I was playing hooky from the official ECMA’s and checking out a special Cape Breton Ceilidh for Kids at Evergreen School in Moncton. Slainte Mhath, in particular Bhreagh MacDonald was giving the little ones a step dancing/square dancing lesson. Ryan MacNeil gave them a free clapping, stomping, and screaming lesson…I am sure the teachers will remember that one. Ryan’s younger brother Boyd MacNeil got the chance to showcase his newest musical talent…the uncanny ability to play a sewer pipe.
I think this was one of the most moving and powerful examples of what the East Coast Music Awards can do… seeing the effect of instrumental music on people of all ages, sizes, and brandnames. Some kids were even break dancing. I kicked myself later for not being on the ball enough to contact one of the TV crews to scope out the madness, but some people from the school were using their own digital cameras to preserve the moment.
Despite my extreme hunger pains, it was entertaining to watch Bruce appease all his new fans by signing a good tree’s worth of autographs. The children really seemed to enjoy themselves and there was lots of cheering and crowd participation. This was definitely a neat twist on Schoolhouserock!
MARY JANE LAMOND
Moncton’s Press Club was the place to be to see and hear the latest incarnation of Mary Jane Lamond. “Suas E!” is the name of her A&M debut long player which is Gaelic for “Give’er!” or “Drive’er!” and that is exactly what her and her band did with raw emotion and music of timeless beauty.
The band included Wendy MacIsaac on fiddle, Ray Montford on guitar, Guy Turner on keyboards, Jeff Arsenault on drums and John Diamond on bass.
It would be safe to assume that this album will be somewhere in between the dance influenced collaborations with Ashley MacIsaac and her own traditional document “From the land of the Trees”. Denise Donlan, the music director for MuchMusic was in attendance (perhaps Mucheast will move to a more accessible time slot now), as were a wall of photographers, media monkeys, and anyone else who could actually find the venue on their own.
CAPE BRETON RAVE NIGHT
Since its spectacular debut in the Charlottetown Hotel last year, the Cape Breton Rave Night is quickly becoming one of the pinnacle performances of the entire ECMA weekend.
It all began at the stroke of midnight with John Allan Cameron and Allie Bennett kicking out a rendition of Buddy MacDonald’s “Getting Dark Again”. At this point there was standing room only…am I ever glad that I was not work-ing the door.
The night seemed to be a fond farewell party for the late Archie Neil Chisholm. The spirit of the former radio personality and classic story-teller embodied everything about Cape Bre-ton…and it was truly his night.
The traditional fiddle stylings of Winnie Chafe and her band Legacy were next to hit the stage and they demonstrated once again their mandate of keeping the music pure. Her daughter Patricia was on keyboards and they were nominated for an ECMA in the roots/traditional category. Delivering other forms of traditional music was Morning Star and they gave us a different perspective on being musical in Cape Breton. The Barra MacNeils started off their set with a powerful version of Allister MacGillivray’s “Coal Town Road” and then went into several uplifting minutes of the instrumental music they create so effortlessly.
Then came the highly anticipated Gordie Sampson and “Angus in Wonderland”. Gordie was joined on stage by keyboardist Bill Ma-cAulay, the bass of Fred Lavery, the fiddle of Wendy MacIsaac, and a special vocal appearance of Wally MacAulay on the late Stan Rog-ers classic “Mary Ellen Carter”. I really did not know what to expect from Mr. Sampson and friends, but having heard him with Real-world and the Revue, and seen him on “Rita & Friends”, I knew he would not disappoint. It would probably best be summed up as an original Cape Breton sound that incorporates Celtic, Pop, and a roots rock kind of groove. I will definitely be looking forward to his album to hitting the racks.
Next there was a brief musical interlude with Richard Wood, John Allan, and Ryan MacNeil while the rest of Slainte Mhath pre-pared for the finale. The Prince Edward Island based fiddler played an energetic set decked out in what appeared to be some sort of space age polymer outfit.
It was about when 3am Slainte Mhath hit the stage…long after the bar had run dry. The crowd was still very thick, and included the likes of Natalie MacMaster, Brookes Diamond, and hosts with most, Joella Foulds and Max Mac Donald.
The Monoxides by alexis rudderham
Where can I start after a weekend like that? I could go on about my long talks with Ashley, my crying pleas with Louie to get tickets to Great Big Sea (thanks Louie) or about the jam session in the lobby of “the bo”. Or maybe I can tell you all about the best night of all – The Monoxides record release party. This event was by invite only, held at Moncton’s two-storey bar Doc Dylan’s. Not having an invitation I managed to get in anyway (thanks to Rebecca from BMG). The night was my first in Moncton and there was no better way to kick off the weekend than hearing the Monoxides, a four piece band native to Moncton. The room was filled with record reps and some pretty big bands. Sloan being one. Tempted to challenge them on what they had to say about their recent gig in Sydney, the thought soon left my mind as I was sucked into the loud music that was causing the walls to shake. The packed sweaty room was filled with people of all ages from teenagers to people as old as my parents. Everyone had their hands in the air and were dancing around the tiny room. This band has a style that’s extremely hard to explain, hard and loud, but definitely interesting. You can’t really classify them under anything. They’re not punk. They’re not alternative. They’re just the Monoxides!!!!
Hearing them play for the first time and not really knowing a lot about them or their music, I was given a briefing from Corey, this guy I stayed with and found out that they were in their twenties. Their twenties? They look younger than me, but hey…that’s showbiz. Four foot guys who can play guitars!! Anything is possible and image has nothing to do with the way these guys play. They just play. I found their music simple, not too busy or cluttered, which is good. Instrumental-wise these guys know how to play … and well I might add. Just as one member of the band blew my mind away another one would do the same.
Then just as I’d start to think about how awesome one song was they would fill my head with something totally different that would impress me even more. They kept me on my toes the whole night and alert to what was being played and said, which is where a lot of bands lose me. The Monoxides have a lot of stage presence which is one other thing, on a long list that caught my attention. I don’t care how good anyone’s music is, if I’m paying to see you play live I’m expecting to get more out of a live performance then if I was to just go home and pop your disc in. These guys came through taking advantage of every bit of room on the stage that they could find. Their sequenced movements rapidly changed and they were all doing their own thing on any given part of the stage at any time. They kept busy and took the night to show their 150 guests just what the Monoxides really are. I’d recommend seeing them live. I’m not sure about their tape I have not heard it yet, but if it sounds anything like they do live I would suggest picking up a copy of OUT OF THE MARSH.