Well, now, how did you enjoy Music P.E.I. Week?
While there are so many highlights to explore surrounding this 12th annual celebration of Island musical talent last weekend, I’ve decided to zero in on the high points I was able to pick out from last Friday’s big multi-location party, Friday Night Live.
Yes, indeed, for those who like to party-hop, last Friday was your ticket to what I would definitely call — in the collective spirit of Wayne’s World and Ted Nugent — “intensity in 10 cities” (i.e., in this case at least, an exultingly positive experience of nomadic revelry within one city).
As it has grown to be a much-anticipated annual smorgasbord presentation of many of the best nominated acts of the year, last year’s Friday Night Live featured nine shows in one evening. And Music P.E.I. continued that trend in 2013, presenting nine concerts last Friday night, in venues from Summerside to Alberton to Breadalbane to Charlottetown.
I tore out of the gates a week ago with my party hoppin’ booties on (well, admittedly, they were just normal shoes) to check into all the Charlottetown shows within just a few hours.
My evening began shortly after 8 p.m. at the Olde Dublin Pub, where musician of the year nominee Matthew Reid entertained the standing-room-only crowd with a great sounding set of tunes.
I can remember seeing Matthew play the fiddle at St. Andrew’s ceilidhs when he was just a young‘un student of Aaron Crane’s (he still is a young‘un, but he was a much littler young‘un then). And having not heard him perform for quite some time, it was fantastic to hear how he has grown into a fine musician through the years.
After a Guinness, my next stop was Marc’s Studio, where it was so jam-packed that all I could do was stand outside the door, as three-time 2013 Music P.E.I. Award-winner Dennis Ellsworth finished up his hugely well-received solo acoustic set.
Then I headed on over to Globe World Flavours, as James Phillips, Nathan Wiley and Dale DesRoches of Sweetheart Jim and the Brothers Grimm kicked off their set to a fairly well-crowded bar (it was astounding how many people were out and around that night). Max Keenlyside had just finished wowing that crowd with rollicking ragtime solo piano, and Bad Habits would later get up to rock the place in true weekend warrior/new artist of the year-winning style into the late night.
I then hopped it across town to the Solid Rock Café in the basement of the First Baptist Church where I came in to find Charlottetown indie five-piece Colour Code belting out its tune, I Believe, to a grooving group of pumped up kids.
The Solid Rock Café is always an amazing all-ages venue for youths to experience the best original bands from around the Island. And the teen scene was certainly no different that night.
Wandering from there on down Prince Street, I arrived to the doors of The Factory to find another lineup (I’m telling you, everyone was out on the town), where I could just see through the glass that Johnny Oliver was sending the dancers in front of him into a footloose frenzy.
So I drifted over into Hunter’s Ale House next door to finish off my night. And through a jacked-up sound system courtesy of Chris Knox, the bar sounded its best ever, as rock recording of the year winners North Lakes fired out a final set — a blistering ensemble of songs from that award-winning album, Grand Prix, to an audience that stood reverberating to the resonance of jangling guitars co-mingling with Nathan Gill’s spirituous vocals.
So there we have it — my experience of Music P.E.I.’s Friday Night Live 2013. And now next time, when I say, “It was intensity in 10 cities,” you’ll know the kind of party night to which I’m referring.
Next week: I’m back to my old stomping grounds of Bluefield High School tonight for the Bluefield Winter Variety Concert.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at email@example.com or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
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