Sea Legs and Sydney Sounds: An ECMW Roadtrip

Brad recaps his trip to East Coast Music Week ...

The North Atlantic doesn’t really rock you to sleep. The turbulent billowing keeps you awake as much as the anticipatory adrenaline flowing through your sleep-deprived veins. That restless mind of yours runs and runs, not seemingly antagonized by the gravol and melatonin you tried to dampen it with.

You resign yourself to the fact that this will likely be a constant battle through the coming days, tide or no tide. So you accept, even enjoy, the wandering thoughts for just a few seconds. Will I meet good people? Will I hear good bands? Will I have enough to eat, drink, and smoke? Will I steal a kiss from a maritime girl? Will I ever sleep?

You glance over to your drummer, lying about ten feet away. He’s also wresting in the cold shuffle of Atlantic crests. That’s reassuring. In the morning, you and the band dock in North Sydney and journey a little further down the highway to a sleepy town brimming with outsiders.

It took you a whole 24 hours to reach here; a world so prohibitively far away yet so much the same. Sydney’s weather was as chilling and brisk as any day in St. John’s, but luckily it also mirrored its vibe. Warm and earnestly friendly, you notice that everyone speaks with a slight brogue, familiar enough to be a comfort.

You feel at home the whole week, but yet you knowingly nod to the obvious musicians while buying smokes. They nod back. You check into your hotel the minute you’re allowed. But you don’t sleep. You’re too excited for that. After getting a taste of local beer, you decide to get a taste of local nightlife.

At a very crowded Governor’s Pub you run into familiar faces and meet the first influx of musicians who have arrived. You discover that in lieu of cabs, there are a team of volunteers driving shuttle vans all around Sydney for the week. Your first stop is the absurdly under-attended aboriginal showcase, where you see City Natives rip the room apart as if it were packed to the brim.

Feeding off the high energy hip hop, you return to the Governor’s and resume destroying the night with fine Nova Scotia ale. Somewhere along the line you have a Beatles singalong at a grand piano and meet a guy from Slowcoaster. But, as will be a recurring theme throughout the week, where and when are lost in the Sydney mist. Sleep? Barely.

You return to the convention center, which you realize is right in the middle of a Mi’kmaw town. The integration of aboriginal culture is striking; Newfoundland lacks such an overt acknowledgment of its past. Here, it lines the hallways confidently and offers a welcoming hand. It’s here you realize that you have volunteered to be a journalist for this weekend and should probably get a press pass.

You manage to secure tickets to the main gala that night, and continue to sample the wide selection of Nova Scotian beer before heading to it. You’re there when Hey Rosetta! run out of things to say because they’ve already given two acceptance speeches. You’re there when a sly Amelia Curran, wine in hand, accepts her Songwriter award with her trademarked wit.

You’re there when the guys in Everglow upset the fan video category. You’re there when your PEI pals in Coyote tie for pop recording. You’re there for what feels like too long, and once again move onto the Sydney nightlife.

At the Capri, the pop showcase introduces you to PEI’s Sorrey for the first time, and they immediately become your favourite band of the week. You see them again the next night at a PEI no-case, and finally share the stage with them on Saturday night. You immediately tell your friends to listen and make a note to write about them in this article.

You realize you’re already far over your word count for this article and should probably finish up without further regaling everyone with tales of mild debauchery and slight shenanigans. You want to be clear; the rest of the week contained as much magic as the first 500 words describe.

East Coast Music Week was simultaneously a business brunch, a hipster hoedown, and a drinking contest. You loved every second of it. You met new pals, you listened to phenomenal music, you tried new beer, you barely slept (and when you did it was next to your drummer). You didn’t kiss a maritime girl, though. Shame on you.

A Complete List of 2016’s Music Award Winners:

Those highlighted in blue are local winners, including 4 trophies for Hey Rosetta and 2 for Amelia Curran.

Aboriginal Artist of the Year
City Natives – Voltron

Album of the Year
Hey Rosetta! – Second Sight
(Producer: Marcus Paquin)

Songwriter of the Year
Amelia Curran

Group Recording of the Year
Hey Rosetta! – Second Sight

Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy – One

Solo Recording of the Year
Jenn Grant – Compostela

Song of the Year
Hey Rosetta! -“Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)”
(Producer: Marcus Paquin)

Fans’ Choice Entertainer of the Year
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy

Fans’ Choice Video of the Year
Everglow – “Feel Your Heart”

Enregistrement francophone de l’année
Joey Robin Haché – Repaver l’âme

Pop Recording of the Year – *TIE*
Coyote – Proof of Life
Christina Martin – It’ll Be Alright

Rock Recording of the Year
Hey Rosetta! – Second Sight

Rising Star Recording of the Year
Fortunate Ones – The Bliss

Country Recording of the Year
Whitney Rose – Heartbreaker of the Year

Rap/Hip Hop Recording of the Year
Quake Matthews – Rap Music

Gospel Recording of the Year
Informants – Ezekiel

Classical Composition of the Year
Dinuk Wijeratne – “Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems”

Classical Recording of the Year
Symphony Nova Scotia – The How And Why of Memory

Jazz Recording of the Year
Jerry Granelli – What I Hear Now

Blues Recording of the Year
John Campbelljohn – Chin Up

Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year
Vishtèn – Terre Rouge

Folk Recording of the Year
Amelia Curran – They Promised You Mercy

The Bucky Adams Memorial Award
Chelsea Amber – Introducing Chelsea Amber

Dance Recording of the Year
PINEO & LOEB – Soul Clap

Electronic Recording of the Year
Ryan Hemsworth – Alone For the First Time

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