Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys win roots/traditional group recording of the year
East Coast Music Week shifted into high gear Thursday with showcases at venues throughout the downtown core and the presentation of the first ECMA Awards of 2014.
And one of the first acts to receive an award was P.E.I.’s Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys.
MacKeeman and his band received the award for roots/traditional group recording of the year for Pickin N Clickin.
That award, presented during the folk/roots stage at The Pourhouse, is another shining moment for MacKeeman, who’s seen his star steadily rise over the last couple of years.
Last year, the band toured the United Kingdom three times.
During one of those tours, they performed on the main stage at the Glastonbury Festival, one of the largest music festivals in the world.
In 2012, Tom Power, host of CBC Radio’s Deep Roots, called them his best discovery at that year’s East Coast Music Awards.
Four other awards were presented at ECMA stages Thursday night.
Thom Swift took home the blues recording of the year award for his critically acclaimed album, The Fortunate Few.
Swift released the album last March.
He recently performed as special guest for John Hiatt and Rosanne Cash and represented Atlantic Canada at the 2013 International Blues Summit in Memphis.
Coffee ’til Midnight by Alan Jeffries was awarded the roots/traditional solo recording of the year.
After years of supporting such great Canadian artists as David Myles, Madison Violet and Al Tuck, Jeffries’ released the album in early 2013. It’s an upbeat mix of traditional, modern, and original bluegrass music, recorded live over three days in rural Nova Scotia.
J-Bru’s Stranger in My Hometown was named the African-Canadian recording of the year.
This is the latest in a string of awards for J-Bru, who was named the 2013 artist of the year by the African Nova Scotian Music Association, and took home the 2012 Music Nova Scotia Awards for hip hop recording of the year and urban recording of the year.
The Town Heroes earned the rising star recording of the year award for their album Sunday Movies.
That album was recorded at the Sonic Temple in Halifax and released in Canada in September 2013.
More recently, the band toured across Canada and Finland and played The Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, as well as The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, U.K.
For the fans, ECMW is all about the music, roaming from venue to venue to hear great music.
But for those who work in the industry it’s about business, about networking, about promoting your artists to people who can help advance their career.
But you have to meet them first and that’s what mixers are for. There were several of them Thursday.
One person making the rounds at those mixers was Andy McLean, the new executive director of the East Coast Music Association, whose appointment was announced just this week.
McLean, an established leader in the cultural industries sector, was the co-founder and longtime managing director of North By Northeast Conferences Incorporated (NXNE).
He established the NXNE brand, recognized worldwide as Canada’s premiere showcase event for the best new music and music-related films as well as a unique arts-based interactive digital media conference, and a burgeoning comedy festival.
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“I’m here to meet people, listen to what they have to say, and try to make some sense of it all,” says McLean. “On the surface I see a really great event that’s running very well.”
A veteran of several major festivals, he said he knows how to make the best of an event where so many shows are packed into just a few days.
“I’ve got my running shoes on, I’ve got my schedule, so I’m going to try and see as many acts as I can because I want to get up to speed with all of the great new talent coming out of this region.”
One of those who knows the drill well is Dennis Parker of the Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, who’s come to ECMA 2014 with more than 25 artists. Some have not arrived because of difficult travel conditions but should be here soon.
Parker said he doesn’t have a huge agenda this week but will devote most of his time to taking care of his artists.
“I’ll be helping some of our younger members network and meet relevant delegates, relevant buyers. I’ve done that already and I’ve only been here a few hours,” Parker said. “Obviously I’ll be checking out new talent and I see there’s lots of that this year, which is very encouraging. You have to bring new people into this event because you can’t be stagnant with the same people all the time. That’s a trap you sometimes fall into.”
But he said so far everything is good.
Today will be another huge day at East Coast Music Week with performances by Jessica Rhaye, Sherman Downey and The Ambiguous Case, Erin Costelo and Tim Chaisson.
One of today’s biggest draws is expected to be the Warner Music Canada Roots Room at the Delta Prince Edward Ballroom featuring performances from Ryan LeBlanc, Amelia Curran, Samantha Robichaud, Catherine MacLellan, Chrissy Crowley, Dave Gunning, Tim Chaisson and the duo of Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIssac.
The Music P.E.I. Stage tonight at The Guild will feature performances by John MacPhee of Paper Lions, Meaghan Blanchard, Tim Chaisson, Catherine MacLellan and Irish Mythen starting at 8 p.m.
A second show starting at 10 will feature Fraser McCallum, Katie McGarry, Dennis Ellsworth, Ashley Condon and Dylan Menzie.
With so many stages on at the same time it would be well worth the 10 to 15 minutes it would take to sit down with the ECMW event guide and read through it carefully. It is possible to hit a couple of stages each night but you need to make out your own schedule.
While so much of what happens this week happens after the sun goes down, the days too are busy.
Delegates to the almost weeklong festival and conference will log a long day today, starting with several conference sessions.
Throughout the day, delegates and artists will be busy at the East Coast Music Week Industry Conference with sessions on international export markets, optimizing your social media presence, and creating music for film.