TOny Murray

 Article by Erin Power

Music in this province is ablaze with energy and talent. From start-up bands making
their name on the stage at The Ship Pub or The Rock House, to Newfoundland musicians
playing on the national and international stage, it is safe to say that the local music scene
is thriving.

Yet a vital component of this scene often goes unrecognized: those who work tirelessly
to grow and promote the local industry.

With over twenty years in the music industry, Tony Murray is a foundational figure in this
province, producing shows for CBC television, for the ECMA, MusicNL and NLAC Awards,
and for local venues like The Ship Pub and The Rock House. Murray has dedicated himself
to supporting local talent at all stages of their musical careers. “Music is a pipeline,”
says Murray. “It keeps going and going and so local venues are very important. Without
The Ship and The Rock House and other great venues, where would bands like The Once
and Hey Rosetta! be? I think the proof of all of our hard work on the ground is how well
these bands are doing.”

Murray began his foray into the world of music in the 1980s when acts like Tina Turner,
Cory Hart, and Supertramp were rolling into town to play shows at the old Memorial Stadium.
Murray, working for a catering company, filled the riders for the touring bands and got a taste
of life behind the scenes. Tony had many friends who played in bands and was a regular fixture
at many local gigs but, as he got further into the scene, he found himself troubled by some
of the business practices of those presenting and producing the shows. Murray shares, “It was
the eighties, I was a kid watching all the shows and soaking it all up. Some of it I really found
interesting and other parts I found really disturbing. I thought maybe I could provide good
entertainment and take care of the artist too. Maybe I could be in an honest partnership where
everybody wins and that kind of stuck in my head.”

This attitude is evident in the relationships he has built with artists over the years. “The respect
that I have built with local musicians is based on honesty and wanting them to do well. Their
success has enabled me the success that I’ve had.” For him, each show, whether big or small,
is extremely important. “A little session at four on Sunday at the Ship is as important as the Junos,”
he states. “The band of 21 year old kids playing here on a Friday night, that’s their Junos and you
have to make sure that they are treated with respect because that show is a big deal to them.”

While Tony is always willing to promote new bands and new music, he understands that his
allegiance is as much to the venue as it is to the musician. “When you have a venue like The Ship
or The Rock House, these venues are expensive to run and so they pay me to try to get a crowd
into the room. I have a responsibility to the owners and to the bartender so I try to program smart.”

Tony has won many awards and has produced numerous award shows, but it is working with the
artists that gives him the most satisfaction. According to Murray, “It’s the day to day grass roots work,
being in the trenches with all the guys and girls who are making great music; that is where I love to be.
The bands … they give me life. They give me energy and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen
next.” If you want to see what’s going to happen next and check out some great local music,
drop down to The Ship or The Rock House and see what Tony has in store.