Rob Oakie is ready to roll out the red carpet for Island musicians.
After seeing local bands and performing artists come up through the ranks over the past year, he’s looking forward to watching them shine on stages during Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week.
“I’m very excited. Every year there’s lots of anticipation. It’s a chance to celebrate artists and see what’s new and what’s coming up,” says Oakie, executive director of Music P.E.I., of the festival that runs Jan. 23-27.
The festival also offers music lovers a chance to see which albums have done really well over the past 12 months, while recognizing the artists who have created them.
“It’s exciting to see seasoned performers, like Meaghan Blanchard, get nominations. But, it’s also exciting to see the new ones,” says Oakie.
One of those first-time nominees agrees.
“We’re feeling a little overwhelmed, but we’re excited and honoured, a little bit surprised,” says Mat Hannah, lead guitarist/vocalist for Little Cities, a band which received nods for pop recording of the year, new artist of the year and group recording of the year.
Fellow first-time nominee Jennifer Roberge of Jenni & The Hummingbird, who is making her debut, was also surprised to be recognized.
“It was kind of like getting a package in the mail. I didn’t know it was coming…It’s lovely,” says Roberge, who is nominated for album, new artist, pop, solo, song and video of the year.
For music lovers who are looking at the Credit Union Music P.E.I. package and trying to pick their shows, Oakie offers three highlights.
The first is the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year concert on Jan. 24 at St. Paul’s Church in Charlottetown.
“It’s always very popular. Just take a look at the lineup – Dennis Ellsworth, Dylan Menzie, Lennie Gallant, Meaghan Blanchard and Rachel Beck. You can’t go wrong with that,” says Oakie.
The second is Music Mosaic, which returns to The Guild on Saturday, Jan. 26.
“It’s a combination of Acadian and world music. We’ll also have a performance by an indigenous artist.”
Featuring Fayo, the Arsenault Trio, Adrienne Gallant, the SOPA World Music Ensemble, the show is being done in partnership with the Congrès mondial acadien.
“It’s a unique show for us. It’s really the only one that features nominees and special guests.”
The festival finale, “Winter Tales”, is also not to be missed.
Hosted by Lennie Gallant and featuring live performances by top nominees Rachel Beck, Jenni and the Hummingbird and Blanchard, it’s set for Sunday, 7:30 p.m., at Florence Simmons Performance Hall.
“These three certainly are the highest profile concerts, but then you’ve got some really cool shows like (Tunes on Tap) at Evermoore Brewing Company (the former library) in Summerside on Friday,” says Oakie.
That concert, featuring Little Cities and Dylan Menzie, starts at 9:30 p.m.
If you are going
What: Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week.
When and where: Jan. 23-27, at various P.E.I. venues.
Tickets: Available from https://ww3.ticketpro.ca/groups.php?id=257&languageid=-1.
For a complete listing of shows, go to: https://www.musicpei.com/music-pei-week/.