Music P.E.I. Week begins

Death Valley Driver set to scare up some new fans during Music P.E.I. Week performances

Dave Stewart
Published on January 24, 2014

The lead singer of Charlottetown heavy metal band Death Valley Driver says he's looking forward to scaring audiences over the next week.

Dan Hodgson makes the comment somewhat tongue in cheek, explaining that it's about exposing the band's music to people not used to hearing it.

Death Valley Driver is one of the many bands and artists which will be performing during Music P.E.I. Week, Jan. 24-Feb. 1. The band was nominated for for rock recording of the year.

That award went this year to Charlottetown band Wildcat with Richard MacLeod on lead vocals, Thane Campbell on drums, along with Chris Robinson, Chris Francis and Andrew Murray. It released its debut album, Wildcat, last October.

The award was resented opening night on Friday at the P.E.I. Brewing Company's House of Rock showcase.

"Whenever we get in front of an audience that's not used to (our) type of music, we scare them a little bit,'' Hodgson laughs, "but usually they've been pretty receptive. Although they might think to themselves 'What is this?' they say later 'that was pretty cool'.''

Music P.E.I. Week is all about diversity, showcasing a wide range of music. These aren't the old days on P.E.I. when it was all about traditional music.

"For such a small scene, P.E.I. has got quite a bit of diversity. It's not just all traditional music (but) it's always been there. Organizations like Music P.E.I. and the ECMAs are starting to see bands that play more fringe-style music are actually out there doing something.

"They're getting on tours, playing cool shows and releasing records, too. (Bookers are) starting to realize it's not just people making noise in a basement. There is an audience for it.'

Death Valley Driver will play three shows, next Thursday at Hunter's, an all ages show the next night at the Solid Rock Café, located in the basement of First Baptist Church on Prince Street in Charlottetown, before teaming up with the Singing Strings at the gala show on Feb. 1.


Hunter River artist Meaghan Blanchard said the week is a chance to get together with friends in the industry.

"There's so many artists from P.E.I. who are off touring or they're recording down in the (United) States or recording across Canada,'' Blanchard said. "Everyone is sort of all over the place so it's kind of a nice time where everyone can come together and be co-workers. It's nice to meet up with these people who you can relate to.''

Rob Oakie, executive director of Music P.E.I., it's the biggest celebration of what many Island artists do.

"It's their Junos, their Grammys, whatever you want to call it,'' Oakie said. "The awards gala is just a fantastic party and celebration. Add to that the conference component, which just keeps growing every year. We bring in delegates from all over the place. It offers them a chance to do some great networking.''

Music P.E.I. Week has come a long way from year one when the gala was held at the Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre and it was a one-day event. This year's gala is at the new P.E.I. Convention Centre ballroom and the event has expanded to nine days.

"You've got a nine-day event that includes over 40 artists and 23 shows and nine different communities now.''

Besides Charlottetown, Music P.E.I. Week will have events in Georgetown, Montague, North Rustico, Belle River, Breadalbane, Kensington, Summerside and Alberton.

One of the bigger highlights of the week is the Songwriter's Concert on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy is the special guest and host and he'll join John MacPhee from Paper Lions, Blanchard, Ashley Condon, Jordan Cameron, Dennis Ellsworth and Catherine MacLellan on stage.

"I think (Cuddy) is going to be absolutely gobsmacked with the level of talent that he's going to be on stage with,'' Oakie said.

Music P.E.I. Week highlights

• Three new signature events: Music in the Malls, Heavyweights and Music P.E.I. Unplugged.

• The Confederation Court Mall's Music in the Mall is a free event that will take place on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. This all-ages event featuring performances by Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher, Teresa Doyle, Dylan Menzie and Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, to name a few.

• Heavyweights is dedicated entirely to hard rock and heavy metal, at Hunter's Ale House featuring performances by Muckraker, Arrows in the Air and Death Valley Driver.

• Music P.E.I. Unplugged. Join Meaghan Blanchard, Tim Chaisson, Dennis Ellsworth and John MacPhee (Paper Lions) as they share the memories and experiences that helped to shape their songwriting talents.