by Maureen McTague
Every year, for the past eleven, the East Coast Music Awards and Conference has united music-industry professionals and enthusiasts together to celebrate and promote artists and talent from Canada's East Coast. Talk about mixing business with pleasure, this year's event in Sydney, NS, was stellar, as usual, and artists from our quiet little Island created a rather loud buzz amongst delegates and attendees. All of the nominees deserve a huge pat on the back for their efforts and hard work in this industry, where it's difficult to make an impression. Here's the highlights;
Juno-nominated Acadian group Barachois accepted awards for Roots/Traditional Group of The Year and Francophone Recording of The Year for their latest release, Encore!, before giving an energized performance on the nationally-broadcast Awards Gala on CBC Sunday, Feb. 6.
Newcomers The Jive Kings won their Jazz Artist/Group of The Year nomination. The eight-piece swing orchestra turned many heads over the weekend, to the extent where many watched their performance on the Yamaha 24 Hour Jam on television, due to a long line up at the venue.
Rik Barron took Children's Artists/ Group of the Year, well-deserved for this hard-working Newfoundland singer/songwriter who calls PEI home.
Alternative music had a stronger presence than ever this year, and The Rude Mechanicals delivered a white-hot performance at their ECMA Showcase on Thursday, Feb. 3. If there was an award for strongest self-promotion, this band would've taken it hands down. Their logo could be found in every bathroom, payphone, vending machine and elevator throughout the weekend.
Also showcasing Thursday night was Celtic Tide, Rollo Bay's Celtic rock family who immediately lead the packed house into a foot-tapping, bouncing frenzy.
Patricia Murray's showcase on Friday was also well-received. You could hear a pin drop as she held every eye (and ear) in the room with her angelic voice and delivery of original and traditional compositions.
Nancy White's Jokebox at the Savoy Theatre was a huge success, as she was joined by many celebrities (including Kim Stockwood, Bette MacDonald and Gordie Sampson) in celebration of comedy and song. This event was so well-received, it may become a regular feature at the ECMAs.
PEI fiddling sensation Richard Wood gave a smoking performance at a private showcase hosted by his booking agency, Jensen Music International, leaving the packed house of talent buyers, promoters and media literally awe-stuck with their mouths open as they rose to their feet for a standing ovation after his first song.
One of the most touching moments of the conference was singer/songwriter Maxine MacLeod's presentation of the Stompin' Tom Connors Award to her father, Gordon Gallant, whose music has been heard in PEI's community halls and gatherings for the past 50 years.
Next year it's our own Cradle of Confederation that will be rocked by the East Coast Music Awards and Conference, as it returns to Charlottetown February 8-11, 2001.