PEI Music Awards
by Jaclyn Killins
As a girl from Ontario I feel like I’m crashing a party when I get to experience the intimate yet endless talent of the music scene on PEI, so I was feeling giddy when I scored tickets to the PEI Music Awards.
A devout CBC listener, I wasn’t familiar with host Kerri Wynne MacLeod before the show, now I feel I may know too much about her. MacLeod started the candid hilarity when she admitted finding out there wasn’t a podium this year made her reevaluate her choice of undergarments. From politics to ex-boyfriends, nothing was off limits and when a young audience member started chirping, MacLeod was quick to sass back.
My favorite performance was by Meaghan Blanchard who turned out to be the big winner of the night with four awards. Move over Anne of Green Gables there’s a new redhead on the scene. Blanchard’s music really gets to me, and I’m surely not alone. It didn’t matter how many times she was called up to the stage, I don’t tire of her charm, just as I don’t tire of her music.
Kris Taylor, who caused a few sniffles in the crowd with his song about his grandfather, tied with New Royalty for Pop Recording of the Year, baffling drummer Tristan Gray of New Royalty who said: “This wasn’t supposed to happen.” It wasn’t a surprise to me, the kids of New Royalty are fun to watch and they put together a great album in Sleepover.
Another favorite for me was Vishten who performed their song “Monsieur Matou.” Whenever I see this band perform there is this moment, when toe tapping becomes foot stomping, when I feel completely happy. Vishten took home two awards and I got a laugh when Kerri Wynne MacLeod prompted Vishten’s Pascal Miousse to repeat his speech in French and he didn’t seem to realize she was hitting on him.
John Connolly began the second half of the evening with his song Sunbird, which always makes me think of my first car. I made the mistake of listening to Sunbird while driving the other day and found that my foot went straight to the floor. It’s a great driving song but be warned, it causes speeding! By the end of the night Connolly was the winner of three awards.
With Pat Deighan on vacation in Africa, bassist Dan Wagner and guitar player John Mullins accepted the award for Alternative Recording of the Year (a tie with Connolly). “I thought you were going to win. I kind of regret voting for you now,” Wagner joked to Connolly.
How I managed to never catch a Grass Mountain Hobo show when they played 70 shows this summer is beyond me. I was delighted to finally experience the music of this rag-tag bunch of talented guys in old-timey outfits. The Hobos took home three awards including fan choice awards Weekend Warrior and Entertainer of the Year.
I was surprised to see obvious crowd favorites Smothered In Hugs go home empty handed, but it goes to show how tough the competition was.
The tribute Marcella Richard played to her partner Ken MacCaull who was memorialized with a lifetime achievement award, was touching, even with my shoddy French comprehension, and I was glad to be exposed to her band. The College of Piping tribute to the late Scott MacAulay, who received a posthumous lifetime achievement award, almost brought a tear to my boyfriend’s eye while the highland dancers dazzled me.
At the end of the awards show John Connolly, in characteristic positivity and grace, summed up the year.
“This is a time we’re going to look back on fondly because the music that’s coming out of PEI right now is really special.”
All PEI Music Awards Gala photographs are by PixbyLorne.