Islanders snag industry awards during ECMA brunch

Doug Gallant
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The East Coast Music Association honoured the industry professionals who toil behind the scenes Saturday with the presentation of several special awards at the annual industry brunch.

Those honoured included musician, manager, producer and record label founder Grady Poe, of Wellington, chosen as this year’s recipient of the ECMA's Industry Builder Award.

Charlottetown musician, educator and conductor, Alan Dowling, was also honoured when he was presented with one of this year’s five Stompin’ Tom Awards.

Other winners of the Stompin’ Tom Awards were Flo Sampson, of Cape Breton;  Kellie Walsh, of Newfoundland and Labrador; Susan Hunter, of Nova Scotia and Bob Mersereau, of New Brunswick.

The industry brunch recognizes the audio engineers and producers who work in the recording studios, the graphic artists who design the album covers and promotional materials and the radio stations that play East Coast music.

It acknowledges the retailers who sell the music, the venues where it is heard and the media who publicize and promote it.

Industry professionals from P.E.I. were honoured in several of those categories.

Charlottetown’s Back Alley Music received the award for music merchant of the year.

Harmony House in Hunter River was named venue of the year.

The award for producer of the year went to P.E.I. native Daniel Ledwell, who’s based in Halifax.

Phil MacIsaac claimed the award for graphic/media artist of the year and The Halifax Pop Explosion was named event of the year.

The award for live sound engineer of the year went to Stephen "Snickers" Smith.

Forward Music Group claimed the award for management/manager of the year.

Jeff’s Musical Car was named media outlet of the year, while Jeff Boudreau was named media Person of the Year.

Studio engineer of the year honours went to Michael "Sheppy" Shepherd.

Soundpark Studios was named studio of the year.

The award for ECMA volunteer of the year was presented to Judy Bryenton, who took holidays and drove from West Prince to work on the transportation desk.

In accepting his award, Poe reflected on his years as the manager of Barachois.

After having married into the Island Acadian community to a talented musician he said he observed a wealth of talent in the Evangeline area his wife came from.

He said he thought they should try to create an Acadian act modeled after the Rankin Family of Cape Breton who were experiencing great success.

From that idea came Barachois, who toured the world and endeared themselves to fans for nine years.

Poe thanked all the artists he had ever had the pleasure of working with.

Melanie Taylor, who owns and operates the Harmony House Theatre with her husband Kris, an accomplished singer-songwriter, said their win was a total surprise.

She said it had been a struggle for a few years, but productions like last summer’s The Island Summer Review with musician Mark Haines and comedian Patrick Ledwell have helped put the theatre on a solid footing.

“It’s been quite a ride, I just hope we can keep doing good things.” Melanie Taylor, owner of Harmony House Theatre

“It’s been quite a ride, I just hope we can keep doing good things,” Taylor said.

Accepting his Stompin’ Tom Award Alan Dowling thanked the East Coast Music Association and all of the provincial music industry associations for helping to promote and drive the industry.

He also thanked Holland College for sharing a vision to help build a world class music performance program.

It’s so fulfilling to work with these kids,” Dowling said.

He also expressed his appreciation for the support of his family.

Andy McLean, newly appointed executive director of the East Coast Music Association, told those attending the brunch he knows there will be challenges ahead for the association but that he likes to build partnerships.

He said there is a wonderful music community in this region and he wants to maximize exposure to that industry nationally and internationally.

Saturday’s brunch was highlighted by musical performances by multi-instrumentalist Ryan LeBlanc, vocal duo Fortunate Ones, Erin Costelo and Ten Strings and A Goat Skin.

Hosts Patrick Ledwell and Kerri Wynne MacLeod kept the mood light and the pace steady.





Organizations: Holland College, The East Coast Music Association, Forward Music Group Harmony House Theatre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Cape Breton, P.E.I. Wellington Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia New Brunswick Hunter River West Prince Evangeline

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