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Give It to a Busy Guy

Al Douglas knows how to get it done

MoeTown
by Moe

Al Douglas (photo: Moe)Happy fall! I hope everyone had a lovely summer. Mine was filled with working, walking, and a few music festivals. Now that the weather is getting chilly, I’m replacing festivals with writing, so I sat down with Al Douglas to see what he’s been up to.

Which, it turns out, is a lot. He works for Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Big Red Music Festival, PEI Brewing Company, booking the entertainment for Murphy Group, is on the board of directors for MusicPEI, and co-chairs Movember PEI.

He is also in a couple of bands, Get Bodied and Muckracker, both on the sidelines, but still around. Look for a possible show from Get Bodied near the end of the year.

For anyone who’s been involved in the music scene over the years, Al’s name is probably fairly familiar. I most strongly associate him to the all ages scene. He started going to all ages shows when he was around twelve and noticed there was a hole in the scene so dived into putting on his own all ages shows. At one point, every time I turned around Al was putting on a show wherever a venue could be had—in various basements, community centres, The Guild…

His all ages shows have slowed down considerably, which is understandable with everything on his plate. It seems there’s also a lull in formation of new bands. Al said that when he put on Awesomefest in 2008 at The Guild, he had roughly 28 local bands, mostly in the hardcore/metal/hard rock genres, play over two days. Today, he was hard pressed to think of half a dozen that could do that.

A strong all ages scene is important to any community. On the surface, it gives young people something to do, but it also fosters a love of music, creativity, and community. I’m not sure my love for music would be what it is today if it wasn’t for those vital all ages shows I went to when I was younger. Also, some of the most important and inspiring moments in my life were because of the all ages community. Even as an adult, I love photographing all ages shows. The audience is there for the love of the music, not to just do whatever and “Oh, there’s a band playing? Sure.”

So is it a lack of promoters? Or a lack of bands? Maybe a little bit of both. There’s definitely room for someone to step up to the plate in regards to putting on shows, but the bands need to be there, too. The Benevolent Irish Society has been instrumental in creating an amazing and safe space over the past few years. I remember a time when the biggest challenge seemed to be finding a reliable venue.

That aside, it sounds like Al has some exciting things up his sleeves. Booking for Murphy Group and also working with PEI Brewing Company, which you may be surprised to learn has a sweet space for larger shows, is going to give Al an excellent opportunity to book acts that may pass little PEI by. Especially keep an eye out around MusicPEI/ECMA Weeks. PEI has been sorely lacking in a venue that can hold roughly 500–700 people and PEI Brewing Company plans on filling that hole. Thanks, guys!

Al can be contacted via facebook (aldouglas) or twitter @aldouglas

And if any of you want to dive into putting on all ages shows, Al is open to questions.

Finding Inspirations

Katie McGarry creates new songs to sing

MoeTown
by Moe

Katie McGarryKatie McGarry was 10 when she first started playing the guitar. Sixteen years later, listening to her lyrics, she makes it sound so easy, so I was curious as to what goes into writing one of those songs: “It’s after I’m inspired by something,” says Katie, “whether it’s going to see someone’s show…it sparks this inspiration. For me, if it’s a chorus or a verse, I write it really fast. When those kind of bursts of inspiration happen, those are my favourite songs that I’ve written, when I’ve written them in just 10 minutes. They’re few and far between when those moments happen, but when it does, it’s such a weird feeling and you can’t wait to feel it again.

“And then there’s other times when you get a cool line or a good vocal melody that you kind of craft words around. It’s almost like how you’d paint a picture, you add something each time.”

Making it on your own is challenging in any profession. You don’t really have a boss to lay down rules and keep things moving quickly. You have to do it yourself. Of course, you can hire a manager to poke and prod you, but a lot of the work is still on your own shoulders. It can be pretty daunting. Keeping a vision of want you want in your head helps. “I learned that a lot, even over the last two and a half years since my first album came out,” explains Katie. “I feel like I was so inexperienced, and I’m still inexperienced. I’m always learning more. But just take that time to develop yourself if you need to. Getting out of your comfort zone. Once you get out of your comfort zone, it just gets bigger and you can’t go back. And if you tell yourself something enough, you’ll start to believe it. But make it something positive.”

Katie’s first album, My Side of Town, is available for download on her website, www.katiemcgarrymusic.com, in exchange for an email address. It was produced with the help of Dennis Ellsworth and recorded in Mark Geddes’ living room. The list of performers includes Tim Chaisson, Gordie MacKeeman, Meaghan Blanchard, and plenty more.

Her new album, which is tentatively being released in the fall, was recorded at The Sound Mill. She produced it herself with help from Dan Currie and Jon Matthews. She says expect something a bit different than her first album.

She’s also helping Dan Curry with his next album.

You can catch Katie on June 15 at noon playing in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada at the Confederation Landing Park in Charlottetown. She will also be playing at the Haviland Club on June 26 at 7 pm.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., on Facebook, or twitter: @KatieMMcGarry.

Putting On a Show

Mike Carver keeps busy as a player, producer and promoter

MoeTown
by Moe

Mike Carverv (photo: Moe)Mike Carver seems to be a man of half a million hats. He’s in: Milks & Rectangles (although, they’re on hiatus while Christian is in England, working together mostly via e-mail); The drummer for North Lakes, who will be going to NxNE and also S.C.E.N.E Festival in St. Catherines; Fox & the Hound with Emilee Sorrey (which is currently being re-imagined).

He just finished up a year and a half at Music PEI where he produced the gala show for Music PEI 2013. This gave him the opportunity to dive into producing on a bigger scale. He was heavily influenced by Jules Holland and having 6ish bands on stage at once, took the idea down a few notches and did 2 bands on stage, Paper Lions and Two Hours Traffic as headliners, with a focus on the stories behind the songs. It was filmed, so that should be released online this summer.

Oh, but wait, there’s more! He produced Night Danger Stage during the ECMAs for the past 3 years with support from CBC Radio 3. The most recent (sold out) Night Danger show was held at The Marquee in Halifax which brought in roughly 550 attendees. He also recently started a new festival for Charlottetown called Charlottetown POP (pop as in popular). It’s going to be held in September and will be span 3 days. Submissions should be open now.

But that clearly wasn’t enough to keep him busy. The big thing that’s happening right now is the start of Fountain Pop Records, a label he is starting with Paper Lions. It’s going to revolve around Paper Lions and their upcoming album (name forthcoming), but down the road will be welcoming other artists.

Mike seems to be pretty well immersed in music. I think that’s a pretty nice place to be, so got the scoop on finding some sweet new tunes. He reads Exclaim, Pitchfork every now and then, checks out the openers at festivals, AUX TV, Spin, Q (qthemusic.com, from the UK) who features U2 a lot which is a band that seems to be close to Mike’s heart, CBC Radio 3/Grant Lawrence, Q (Jian Ghomeshi), CBC 2.

Mike has been to a lot of shows, played a lot of shows, and produced a lot of shows. I had to ask: What was his favourite? “For playing, the funnest one was the rooftop of Timothy’s and Green Man last May the day we were releasing our record. We didn’t tell any media so we didn’t promote it at all. Moments before, I picked a couple of key social media freaks and said ‘Can you tweet that?’”

“I’m terrified of heights, though. We had a scissor lift to get up, and just getting me up on the roof was an event itself.”

TL;DR: North Lakes are currently writing their next album which is due out hopefully in the fall, Fountain Pop Records is gearing up to release Paper Lions’ next album, Charlottetown POP currently taking submissions for the fall festival. Between now and then keep an eye on random shows popping up from Mike and also the North Lakes.

I leave you with some sage advice from Mr. Carver: “Keep going to shows!”

Mike can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Man On Board

MoeTown
by Moe

Matt Steele (photo: Moe)Matt Steele mixes live sound for more and more Island shows

Matt Steele’s first love is making music with his band, Bad Mountie. But there’s already been a Buzz article about them so I decided to sit down with Matt to chat about his second passion: doing sound for live events. He simply calls it “making other people sound good,” and make them sound good he does.

He almost became a lawyer or professor, or something “boring and sensible.” He ended up doing a mentoring project in high school where he learned about recording, and would also get together with his cousins in the summers and jam. It was after some prodding from these cousins that he realized he loved “making sounds” as a musician. He decided on a Performing Arts Technology degree from the University of Michigan then started doing sound at a local all ages venue. Here he learned an appreciation for music above caring about money.

“It’s not about the $15,000 Yamaha digital mixer, or the DVX compressor, it’s not about the fancy piece of equipment that you drool over all day, and I drool with the best of them. Not in music, recording, performance, in live sound. It’s always about making it sound good and doing your best with what you have. Art from adversity. The Beatles had 4 tracks to make Sgt Pepper with and that sounds better than the best studio L.A. recording because the songs are so good and they cared so much about making it sound good.”

Matt moved to PEI in 2010, spent a summer in a cottage in Rustico practicing, then got a gig doing sound at Baba’s. This lead to gigs at other places, Solid Rock Cafe for a Music PEI Showcase, Fishbones, Haviland Club for the Wild Cats’ farewell show, among others. Watching people rock out and have a good time turned out to be a fairly fulfilling job, even if it’s far from a get rich quick gig. Hearing people walk away from a show talking about how great it was makes the night worth it. He was also the head videographer for Festival of Small Halls for the past 3 years where he helped capture and spread their magic to everyone on the internet. And he has a solo EP coming out, which Mark Geddes and Thomas Mears helped him record.

During the recent ECMW in Halifax, he worked the Radio ECMA Opportunity Stage in the Delta Halifax lobby where he did sound for 60 bands in 3 days.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Every time I’d wander through the lobby, I’d see him there hard at work. He even asked twitter to bring him some supper so he could keep going. (Don’t worry, a slice of pizza was brought to him.) I watched as he wandered around, making sure things sounded nice, then dive for the sound board to turn someone up for a solo. He not only had to make sure every person on stage sounded good for everyone in the lobby, but this was also going directly to radio.

Whether he’s on stage with Bad Mountie, as a solo artist, or behind the sound board, he believes in promoting the artists around him.

“In music, arts and culture industries you just gotta keep doing what you love and promote who you love and promote your scene. Good things will happen.”

You can check out some of his solo stuff at www.mattsteelemusic.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“A gigantic thank you to all of the musicians and music industry and people, bar owners, booking agents, fans, and random people on the street who’ve made my new home in PEI such a wonderful place to be and such a wonderful community.”

(Don’t forget to thank your sound guy!)

She’ll Manage

Shannon Pratt takes on vital roles within the PEI music scene

MoeTown
by Moe

Shannon Pratt (photo: Moe)How do you get to be the band manager for one of the hottest bands in Charlottetown right now? Well, for Shannon Pratt, it actually started in Ontario. She studied Television Broadcasting at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, then headed west to Vancouver where she switched gears and started working in the film business for the next eight years. She worked on movies like Smallville, I Robot, Underworld 2, and a few others. She even has her own IMDb page.

Then she drove across the country with her one-year-old pup, Charley, to buy her grandparents house. She was on PEI temporarily, or so she told herself.

Her first job on the Island was working for Music PEI in 2007 as Event Co-ordinator, which quickly lead to working on the tv side of the ECMAs in 2008 for the 20th year anniversary as Production Manager. A dream come true. “I used to sit in Vancouver on the Sunday night with my six pack of Keiths, take my phone off the hook, watch the show. I’d cheer on my friends and would discover new music.”

Being in these positions put Shannon in a position to build friendships with musicians. Knowing what was out there in terms of awards to be applied for, etc, she would message people to encourage them to apply. Dennis Ellsworth was one of these people. “I fell in love with that first Battery Point record.”

“I ended up contacting him through Myspace, or something hideous like that. We started talking about the project back and forth. I kept asking him: Are you doing this? Have you thought of that? What’s happening with this? Are you participating in this? Have you submitted for that?”

Then she came across Smothered In Hugs. She had no idea who they were but fell in love with their music. She kept messaging them to get them to submit for things and let them know about opportunities. Eventually they met at shows, then they started coming to her with questions. After some pestering and a lengthy conversation with Todd MacLean, she finally made the step from super fan/helpful friend, to manager. Around the same time, Smothered in Hugs were changing their name to English Words. Fun fact: the band is the first hit when googling English Words.

While managing English Words and InFlight Safety right now, Shannon has worked with several bands over the years in both traditional and cyber PR, as well as booking. She also worked on a number of other projects, such as Fall Flavours, Festival of Lights, Nigwek, Small Halls, as well as Stage Manager for the last 3 or 4 Food & Warmth shows.

At what point should a band or musician look into getting a manager? “When you get to the point where you can no longer juggle all of the balls in the air, when things are starting to slip through cracks, when you can’t do it all yourself.”

If you find yourself in need of a manager, definitely start looking for one, but in the mean time I asked Shannon what should be done before-hand. “Own your name and be consistently branded across the universe. For me as a music fan, I don’t want to be searching all over the world to find you. I just want to find you. Nothing annoys me more than going to your website and there not being either contact information or if you haven’t updated your shows section. Stay off of Myspace.”

Shannon has been an incredible supporting voice in the music community. Easily one of the most hard working and passionate people.

How It Is Done

Interviewing the man behind Hunter’s, Globe and The Factory

MoeTown
by Moe

Steve Barber (photo: Moe)Steve Barber can be a man of few words at times, while at other times, a man of seemingly infinite stories. When you’ve been running one of Charlottetown’s hottest spot for live shows for roughly eight years, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.

Moe: How did you get to own three venues?

Steve: I used to run Route 66, a small bar under Blossoms on University Avenue. I was only 19 and started doing trivia there, then running the bar. Then I worked at Myron’s on and off for 7 years while I put myself through school. Moved out west, went to school, came back home. Found a fellow who wanted to invest in the restaurant industry in PEI. Once we got Hunter’s up and running, 4 years later we were able to use the revenue from Hunter’s to purchase The Globe. With the profits from that, and a little help from the Credit Union, we got lucky with our neighbours and purchased that building.

Moe: What’s the best thing about being a venue owner?

Steve: So many good things. We have 160 staff. I’m living pretty much every teenage/young adult’s dream. I get to work with 160 awesome people. I get to be out every night with these people, having a good time. Working with the public and doing something that I love, the marketing aspect, band booking aspect. I love the bands. I like to see bands succeed.

Moe: What’s been your favourite show here?

Steve: So many. ECMAs in 2011, we were able to pull off what I believe was the best line-up, besides the actual show of the ECMAs itself. We had 4 bands a night. Carmen Townsend, The Stanfields, Paper Lions, Two Hours Traffic, it just went on and on. If that was a festival where all of those bands played together, it would cost you $100 or something. On the Sunday, Slowcoaster played from 10:30 pm until 2:45 am. They didn’t stop, didn’t take a break. They played every song from every album.

Moe: How do you make that decision (to book a band)?

Steve: If your band has never played here before, it’s very hard to get your foot in the door. There’s 100 other bands who have played here before who I know are going to do very well for the place, sell drinks, keep the 160 people in the company with a job. If you’ve never played here, don’t come say “Yeah I want this gig and this is how much I want to be paid.” Continuously send me messages, emails, come in and say “yeah I’ll take anything, open up for this band, come in on open mic.”

Be willing to support a bigger act. Team up with somebody. Find somebody who is a draw and talk to them to get you in and involved in the show.

Moe: What’s in store for Hunter’s, Globe, and the Factory?

Steve: There’s EDM (electronic dance music) upstairs Fridays and Saturdays at Hunter’s, downstairs will continue to look for the best, appealing acts. The Factory, we’d like to gear towards the older demographic. More shows on weekdays with artists who are well known in the maritimes who appeal to the 35+ demographic. The Globe, you’re going to see a lot more DJs. We love the jazz and blues area. We do a show every Saturday afternoon with PEI’s Got Blues, we’ll continue that right into the summer. Saturday nights at 8 pm there’s a rotation of jazz and blues bands that do well.

I think that people should do their best to support the scene. Without support for bands that come here to release their cd or play a show, they’re just going to stop playing.

Meaghan Blanchard

MoeTown
by Moe

Meaghan Blanchard (photo: Moe)Meaghan Blanchard wrote her first song at age 11. She couldn’t play guitar yet, so took her piece of paper with her song scrawled in crayon to her dad and got him to play music to it. Of course, to get into an 11-year-old’s head is a challenge at the best of times. Not happy with dad’s efforts, she stormed off and learned how to play herself.

For her whole life, Meaghan has been surrounded by music. Her grandparents were in a country band which played on weekends. Listening to Dolly Parton and Patty Griffin also guided her along the way. It’s no surprise that music, especially song writing, has taken up a pretty big part of Meaghan’s time. Bits of songs can be forming at any given moment.

“I’ll be walking down the street, and I have an iphone that you can record voice memos on. So I’m just constantly recording those voice memos and not putting any pressure to finish it. I’m just always open to it, always having a way to record it. I always have a journal on me, so it all kinda starts like that. There are a lot of little puzzle pieces of things, I look at it as a puzzle. You really have to put the time into those pieces if you really want to figure it out. Sometimes you just can’t finish it. Just write and write and piece things together. Sometimes it’s really labourious, and sometimes it just…falls out of me.”

With two successful albums already under her belt, Meaghan decided to do something big for her next one. The thing is, recording an album is really expensive. So Meaghan and her manager came up with a brilliant fundraising idea, called Music Angels. It would help her travel to Athens, Georgia so she could work with producer John Keane (R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Cowboy Junkies) for a month. She likes to dream huge, and this pretty much fits that bill. “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done!” she says. It’s brilliant on a couple of levels, it helped off-set the cost for Meaghan, and it gave her fans a chance to get to know her on a more personal level—which also gave her the chance to say “Thank You.”

It was a very successful venture; a lot of hard work and a huge learning experience. Meaghan also met some amazing people who might have been less accessible otherwise. While going over the album tracks, her producer said “Y’know what? Elton John’s backup singer’s might be in town next week. Why don’t we give ’em a call? I think Bonnie Raitt’s organist is around, why don’t we get her in here?” And Meaghan’s answer—”Sure, why not!”

When asked about the results of her hard work, Meaghan said, “Well, I got some songs back and I’ve been dancing around in my room to them, so that’s a good sign!”

There’s still some work left to do on some of the songs, adding tracks and some back up, mixing, mastering—the usual. The release is in the spring of 2013, hopefully. Meaghan also has a Christmas album on the plate for next year. To find out what Meaghan is up to, check out meaghanblanchard.com or catch up with her on facebook.

Ten Strings and a Goatskin

Moetown
by Moe

Ten Strings and a GoatskinI’m starting to see a trend; the musicians who catch my ear tend to have started playing when they were kids. Caleb Gallant at around age 8, Jesse Pèriard at 7 with the guitar, and Rowan Gallant also at 8 with the fiddle. (Maybe I should have stuck with the piano way back when. Sorry, mom.)

While Rowan, Caleb, and Jesse were heading back from their very first sound check, a friend of the family asked what their bands name was. Upon being told they didn't have one, it was suggested “Well, you have 10 strings and a goat skin, go from there!” And thus Ten Strings and a Goat Skin was born.

The group is heavily influenced by traditional music, while playing it in a more contemporary style—a fusion of traditional/Irish/French. A lot of music from across the pond or a bit further south is where they turn for inspiration, but you can bet Stan Rogers and Lennie Gallant have left a huge mark on them.

They have one CD out, Tri, recorded about two years ago in one day. It has earned them the Roots Traditional Recording of the Year Award at the 2012 Music PEI Awards and was nominated for the Roots Traditional Group Recording of the Year Award at the 2012 East Coast Music Awards (ECMA). You can grab it at Back Alley Music in Charlottetown, Gallants Clover Farm (Rustico), PEI Preserve Company, The Great Canadian Goat Soap Company (they even hand out soap samples at some shows!), or catch them at a show.

Heading to Sonic Temple in Halifax to record, they hope to have an album out this spring—something I’ve been itching for since I first saw them at Plan B in Moncton for the 2012 ECMAs.

The winter season will see Caleb, Jesse, and Rowan focusing on school, but keep your eye out in the spring and summer for shows. Want to check them out? They're on Facebook: Ten-Strings-and-a-Goat-Skin.

tenstringsandagoatskin.com

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Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Projections on the Plaza

Until September 29
Confederation Centre Plaza The public is invited to enjoy two outdoor film screen [ ... ]

Musical theatre blues

On the Road with Dutch Mason starring John Connolly Select dates to September 22
The Mack The “Pr [ ... ]

Cool Moon

Cross-cultural Arts Festival September–November
Various locations The main stage of Confederation [ ... ]

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Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Free transportation at Cloggeroo

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Charlottetown’s Historic Squares exhibit...

The City of Charlottetown Planning and Heritage Department has created an exhibit exploring the hist [ ... ]