iain kenneth macleod
A session breaks out in the lobby of the hotel after the Show.
In a remarkably effective move Fundy cable became the Official ECMA information network. It sure beats watching bowling. They covered the 75 hour jam session, which should have been called a concert series because I couldn’t find a spot of jam anywhere. They also showed parts of the Cape Breton Rave Night from the Moncton Press Club. Hopefully we will see the same thing when it returns to Sydney in 2000.
Entertainers of the Year (two times running) Great Big Sea’s album UP goes from tinfoil in their hometown to platinum across the nation…expect their next CD in May with some special guests. Their video for Run, Runaway also gobbled up an ECMA too.
Ashley MacIsaac picked up five out of seven nominations and these included Male Artist, Pop/Rock, Album, Song, and Hip hop…straight outta Creignish. Over all Mr. MacIsaac seemed pretty tame in avoiding access fame during the awards. He can, however, be found scantily clad in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine (RS 755) w/ Mary Jane.
Speaking of Rolling Stone, Halifax’s own Sloan receive a favourable review in the same pages of the magazine. Sloan also picked up ECMA door stops for the best group and best alternative group. It makes you think…Sloan must be in a good position being the best alternative to themselves. They seemed a little bitter that they did not get recognized as songwriters and video vanguards, but you don’t need a trophy do you?
It was interesting to see the use of the percussion instrument known as a Djimbe by such artists as Natalie MacMaster (Female Artist, Instrumental, and Roots/Trad winner) and Cookie Rankin during the “Drunken Piper”, by MacKeel during their energetic showcase and their closing spot on the jam session, and by the Barras MacNeils and Slainte Mhath. I just want to say that when someone decides to pick up the sitar or tablas I want to be there…now that would be funky.
Not only was Bruce Guthro given the chance to strut his stuff at the Capitol Theatre on Friday, he also had the honour of receiving the SOCAN songwriter of the year award for “Fiddle and Bow”, which can be found on Natalie MacMaster’s NO BOUNDARIES CD. He has proved himself over and over as being a very unique and powerful song crafter, and it was amazing to hear him and Gordie Sampson revealing some of the stories behind their tunes during one of the song writing circles. So, when are we going to see the post-country album?
The post-Awards events were scattered across the town, so I made a bee line back to the Hotel Beau to find the acoustic sessions…but it took some digging. There seemed to be some sort of tribute to Tito Puente in one of the ballrooms, and the other one had a down and dirty blues jam. Both interesting in their own way, but I wanted to keep searching. And then I found something. The Oldies 950 room was waking’ up the neighbors in a rigorous fashion with singer/guitarist Terry Smith revealing some of his own concoctions and covering a few party favorites too.
In the midst of my hotel hopping, I found what started out as a small crowd that expanded into a small mob in the lobby. Fergus O’Byrne, of Ryan’s Fancy fame, seemed to be the ring leader and various appendages of Rawlins Cross, conga players, some Capers, and Newfoundland’s impressive Punters. It would turn into more of a musical jam as Scott Macmillan plugged in his guitar, Alan Doyle sang a few numbers, and Natalie MacMaster enjoyed the wake of her entertaining stint hosting the show. It was great to have a refreshing breeze in the lobby…and I kept wondering if this music is so mainstream, why the heck wasn’t something organized? And then it hit me…this is what it is about. This is why celtic music speaks to so many people. It is truly an experience that one has to take in…you cannot necessarily just get it from a CD or an awards show. You really have to be at the right place at the right time to feel the magic. Most of the naysayers of this kind of music have never really been to that one party or hotel room where everything just clicked. It is pretty difficult to explain, but most of you will know what I am talking about. Commercial radio doesn’t care about this…major labels don’t really care about this. Music fans do.