Let’s face it.
The ECMAs are a wonderfully exciting time, as over the course of just several days, our city surges amid the energy of the very best music in Atlantic Canada.
Yet, because of this massive amount of amazing live music in such a short time frame, it can also be a very mind-boggling time for many of us, when trying to wrap our heads around all the East Coast Music Week activity that we could or should be taking in.
Take it from me — it took me several hours of going through the schedules of official and unofficial ECMA events before I felt I had a pretty good idea of what was taking place. But even after all that, I am still finding out about various shows that I didn’t even know were happening.
To help you in at least some way to chart a course for what your ECMA weekend could potentially entail, I’ve dedicated my entire Picks of the Weekend section to the ECMAs this week.
And while this is not a perfect or comprehensive guide — as these shows are my own personal choices and may not coincide with your own preferences — I’m hoping that this will help to at least shed some light on destination possibilities amidst this hopping weekend of music.
Of course, incredible East Coast live music has been raging in over a dozen of Charlottetown’s venues throughout the week. And yet, interestingly enough, what really began it all was not an official showcase but an unofficial event, located in one of the smaller (yet ever-so-soulful) clubs in town and kicked off by a group that you would probably not otherwise expect to be the ones to kick a six-day jam session into motion.
The show I’m referring to is the 150-Hour Jam at Baba’s Lounge, where from April 1 to 7, there is live music 24 hours a day for six days straight, in a 150-hour non-stop musical extravaganza.
Continuous jam sessions such as this have been a mainstay of ECMA activity for almost the past 20 years — often billed as being “72 Hour Jam” shows, etc. — but this year, a new feat of 150 hours of ongoing live performances is the goal.
And what a scene it was this past Tuesday shortly after 10 a.m. as the snow blew savagely outside of Baba’s Lounge and the Queens County Fiddlers stood together out in that cold to play the very first notes of the 2014 150-Hour Jam. And no, even though it was April 1, it was no April Fool’s joke.
You’ve heard of the phrase, “fiddling while Rome burns”? Well this was certainly a display of “fiddling while Charlottetown is stormed upon,” I suppose, at its finest.
It wasn’t just a few notes that were played by the 11-piece fiddle ensemble, in fact, but a set of three wind-blown reels; which quite ironically began with a tune called The Flowers of Edinburgh. (Not a spring flower in sight on that morning, that’s for sure!)
Following it up with Miss MacLeod’s Reel and none other than St. Anne’s Reel, the Queens County Fiddlers may have had freezing fingers, but they had smiles on their faces and sweet winter-defying music flowing from their strings, as the cameras pointed and snapped about them — all commemorating the beginning of the 150-Hour Jam in style.
“Rain, shine or storm, the ECMAs go on, smiled Tammy MacEachern, who has been playing with the Queens County Fiddlers for four years now.
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After a few more photos, that was enough of that, they all said, as the remainder of their performance was finished inside where plates of free hot pancakes were being served for what was being called Fiddles and Flapjacks, and where a crowd of about two dozen cheered on the mid-morning fiddle concert in a bar.
“I can’t believe we have to play here for 150 hours!” joked fiddler Aaron Crane between fiddle sets.
The group brought it home to play lovely tunes like Sinnie’s Jig, The Wild Rose of the Mountain and the Patty LeBlanc set of a march, strathspey and two reels to finish up their performance.
Cynthia MacLeod and Tian Wigmore were next up, as they played a 45-minute set of fiddle tunes and original songs by Wigmore, while coffee-and-Bailey’s sipping folks enjoyed the music and the snow continued to dart outside the window behind them.
The weather did wreak a bit of havoc with the rest of Tuesday’s jam schedule, but acts like Plain Folk, The Poster Boys and Chris Field still made it for their sets to keep that jam rolling on.
And of course, the jam will continue to roll on all weekend long. Check out www.150hourjam.com for the updated schedule.
Be sure to visit www.ecma.com, too, for all the information on this very big musical weekend ahead. See you out and about!
Next week: There’s so much to enjoy this weekend that I’m leaving next week’s column to be a surprise.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
Todd’s ECMA picks
1. Warner Music Canada Roots Room – Delta Prince Edward Ballroom, today at 8 p.m. Featuring Amelia Curran, Dave Gunning, Samantha Robichaud and more.
2. Music P.E.I. Stage Songwriter’s Circle – The Guild, today at 8 p.m. Featuring Meaghan Blanchard, Catherine MacLellan, Tim Chaisson, Ashley Condon, Dennis Ellsworth and more.
3. Cavendish Beach Music Festival Country/AmeriCanada Stage – The Factory, today at 8 p.m. Featuring Jimmy Rankin, Whitney Rose and more.
4. CBMIC Stage – Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, today at 9 p.m. Featuring Barra MacNeils, Chrissy Crowley, Dave Sampson and more.
5. Soirée Franco Est – Rodd Charlottetown, tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. Featuring Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, Vishtèn, La Virée and more.
6. Music N.S. Stage – The Pourhouse, tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. Featuring Old Man Luedecke, Jimmy Rankin, Carleton Stone, The Tom Fun Orchestra and more.
7. Rap/Hip-Hop/Electronic Stage – Hunter’s Ale House, tomorrow at 12:30 a.m. Featuring In Dreams, Kayo, award presentations, and more.
8. SOCAN Songwriters’ Circle – Delta Prince Edward Ballroom, Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Hosted by Jimmy Rankin and featuring Amelia Curran, Jenn Grant, Mo Kenney, Colin MacDonald of The Trews and more.