The Pre-show Posts, Part 4 of 5: Sherman Downey’s Storybook Success Story + The Origins of Mark Bragg’s “Fire Sign.”

Every day this week, we'll say something on each of the 5 shortlisted bands, and, hear a random fact on a Mark Bragg song

Bragg Borealis sherm-1

When, Where, and Why!

This Friday night at The Ship is the big announcement: come and see who has survived all three rounds of really, really tough jurying. We will be crowning the winner of the 2014 Borealis Music Prize at The Ship at 11:15 pm sharp.

After the drumrolls, confetti bangs, and cheque presentation, the winner will play a quick set, and then Mark Bragg will perform for the rest of the night — a perfect party soundtrack, live in the flesh.  So come and dance your pants off to Mark, and see which album close to 40 jurors chose as the best of the year.

There’ll also be free copies of Big Townie Tunes Vol.1 on hand: a 20-track album featuring 1 song by each shortlisted band. There might even be a secret second trophy to present. Come see why.

Every day this week, we’ll say something on each of the 5 shortlisted bands, and, hear a random fact on a Mark Bragg song.

The Storybook Success Story of Sherman Downey 

“The Right Idea” off The Sun in Your Eyes

Five or so years ago, Sherman Downey was a school teacher with a nice and reliable paycheque. But it was music that he really loved, so he decided to give himself 5 years to see if he could forge a career in music.

As he’s told CBC, “I thought that any money coming in elsewhere would make me lazy in music. It was a decision to cut off finances everywhere else, so I’d be desperate to make it in music.”

His admirably storybook move has been working – he has played gigs as wild as the Vancouver Olympics, as big as the Junos, and he has toured as far abroad as Australia.

Just before Sherman and the Ambiguous Case recorded their Borealis shortlisted album, The Sun in Your Eyes, they were named the most promising new band in the land by a nation-wide, voter based hunt – CBC’s Searchlight competition.

The band themselves didn’t shakedown their followers for votes … because they didn’t have to. Their fans were fanatic enough to do it for them, and they won the prize, which included a CBC Music video session, a performance at the CBC Music Festival, and $20,000 in music equipment from Yamaha Canada Music.

And they deserved it. The band writes uncommonly catchy – really really catchy singalong songs. The distinct sound they’ve cooked up over the years is a mix of many genres, from the boom-bah-bah waltz of trad Newfoundland music, to the nearly yodeling vocals of bluegrass.

As a touring band, getting off the island is pricey, and going on tour can be shaky, since you have to wonder if a crowd will show up in a bar for a touring band they might not know – but being a CBC Searchlight winner alleviated that problem for them, forever.

To win, they beat out 3000 Canadian bands. 3000. So, surely it’s possibly they’ve beat out the four local albums they’re up against. Swing by The Ship Friday night to see.

Mark Bragg on His Song, “Fire Sign”

Every day this week, leading up to the show, Mark Bragg will share a random fact on one of his songs. Today’s is “Fire Sign.”

“I wrote this for the Down to the Dirt soundtrack,” a movie based on local author Joel Hyne’s debut novel.

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