If you’re like Nan, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of ECMW showcases happening in town this week.
While there’s everything from heavy metal shows to acoustic songwriter circles, the whole thing leans singer-songwriter, so this list does too. While it’s nice to get out and watch your favourite hometown heroes shine for industry hotshots, this week is a great chance to discover a new band or two from our Atlantic Canadian brethren. Hence the list below. Hopefully there’s someone on here you’re not yet familiar with.
Tomato Tomato (Folk)
This husband and wife, stomp-and-holler folk duo are so legit their band T-shirt has #MoreWashboard emblazoned on it. If you like folk music, actual folk music, you like these two. Their harmonies and hooks are reminiscent of David Wax Museum and Old Crow Medicine Show, and Lisa Mclaggan’s unique choice of instrument — a washboard with a cymbal nailed to it — ensures they have their own defining percussion to set them apart from other Maritime folk acts.
Where to catch them:
Friday, 4:30 @ The LSPU Hall — CBC’s On the Go Live Broadcast
Saturday, 7:30 @ The Delta Ballroom — Warner Music Canada’s Roots Room
Saturday, 9:30 @ The Ship — RBC Breakout Stage
Vogue Dots (Gloomy Electronica)
Halifax’s Vogue Dots craft a broody, full-bodied electronic sound with an atmosphere so thick it swallows you whole like a proper song ought to do. These guys raise the bar for their genre in Atlantic Canada, and are certainly a worthy contender for the 2015 Electronic Album of the Year award they’re up for. Stellar production value and interesting song structures keep listeners on the line.
Where to catch them:
Thursday, Midnight @ The Delta Avalon Ballroom — ECMA presents In-Flight Safety, Vogue Dots, and 60 LPs
Friday, 12:30am @ George Street Beer Market — Molson Late Night: Electronic Spotlight
“Way with Silence” by Vogue Dots
Catherine MacLellan (Singer-Songwriter)
If you’re a folk-leaning songwriter in Atlantic Canada, you admire Catherine’s music. Too often, it’s mentioned she’s the daughter of Gene MacLellan (of “Snowbird” fame): the focus should be on what a fine songwriter she is in her own right. She eclipsed the shadow of the family name the moment she released her debut album in 2004, and she has continued to mature and impress with each successive album along a career trajectory described by Exclaim magazine as an “ascent to greatness.” In short, there’s a good reason she’s playing more showcases than anyone this week.
Where to catch Catherine:
Thursday, 8pm @ Jack Byrne Arena — East Coast Music Awards Gala
Friday, 3:30pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Export Buyer’s Showcase
Friday, 4pm @ LSPU Hall — CBC’s On the Go Live Broadcast
Friday, 5-7pm @ Fred’s Records — Free Old Pony Records Nocase
Friday, 9:30pm @ The Martini Bar — MusicPEI Stage
Saturday, 9:50pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Warner Music Canada Roots Room
Sunday, 2pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Transit 360 Songwriters’ Circle
“True Love” by Catherine MacLellan
Willie Stratton and the Boarding Party (Folk-Rock)
Like his Haligonian cohort Ben Caplan, Willie Stratton offers a big, bold, room-shattering performance. If you believe music should make your bones ring and your feet stomp and your voice roar so hard you’ll feel it in the morning, swing by Willie’s showcase for a “seething hurricane of ferocious folk rock music.” You can write it off as Post-Mumford mimicry or you can dig a little deeper and get a little blown away. You choose.
Where to catch Willie:
Friday, 1am (as in after midnight) @ The Ship — Rising Star Showcase
“The River, Part 1” by Willie Stratton
The Olympic Symphonium (Singer-songwriter)
Everyone loves a live band where the members switch up instrument duties between tracks, and these guys are up for Album of the Year, so why not get out and see how you feel about them yourself? As a bonus you’ll see one of the best moustaches in Canadian music. Like their ECMA-nominated album, their performance will appeal to fans of quiet, moody music. Their sound feels a bit like someone put Great Lake Swimmers & Michael Feuerstack in a blender.
Where to catch them:
Friday, 11:50pm @ Jag Hotel — Folk & Roots Showcase
Saturday, 1:30p, @ The Delta Ballroom — Export Buyer’s Showcase
Mo Kenney (Singer-Songwriter)
Mo’s bio reads like she ought to be 50. Instead she’s a 20-something who has toured with names like Ron Sexsmith, and has more accolades than most washed up 70-something Atlantic songwriters. She was lucky enough to have Joel Plaskett take a shining to her music when she was still a teenager, and sure, he acted as a springboard for her career, but to have broken out in such a big way by 25 years of age speaks way more to her skills as a songwriter than her luck in catching Joel’s attention. There’s little doubt, with a bio like hers, and with so much of her career still ahead of her, she’s a legend in the making — and you can catch her here and now with your own two eyes and ears. Her two precocially sophisticated albums run the gamut of folk to pop-rock, but the video below is a good representation of her sound.
Where to catch Mo:
Friday, 4:30pm @ The LSPU Hall — CBC’s On the Go Live Broadcast
Saturday, 2:30 @ The Delta Ballroom — Export Buyer’s Showcase
Saturday, 8:30 @ Jag Hotel — Bluebird North Showcase
Saturday, 11:15pm @ Dusk Lounge — MusicNS Stage
“I Faked It” by Mo Kenney
Gabrielle Papillon (Broody Folk)
If all is fair and just in the world, Gabrielle’s fabulous 2015 release, The Tempest of Old (produced by the esteemed Daniel Ledwell), will make her a household name for fans of her genre. It’s certainly one of the best dark-folk albums out of Atlantic Canada in the last few years, and tracks like “Brother Throw Down,” Ain’t No Bitter,” and “Kentucky at Night” are some of the best Canadian songs so far in 2015. (They’ve been spinning on Overcast Radio for weeks.)
Where to catch Gabrielle:
Friday, 8:30pm @ Jag Hotel — Folk and Roots Showcase
Saturday, 9:45pm @ Dusk Lounge — MusicNS Stage
Sunday, 1:30pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Transit 360 Songwriters’ Circle
“Brother Throw Down” by Gabrielle Papillon
In-flight Safety (Indie Rock)
These guys are up for Album of the Year, and if Rich Aucoin doesn’t win it, these Juno nominees and 5-time ECMA winners will. Conversationalist is a solid, pop-peppered indie rock album they can hang their hats on with pride. If you’re into bands like Arkells, you’ll love their live show. Fun fact: story goes these guys self-recorded a demo that David Bowie caught wind of, and he sent them an encouraging email which made them take the band more seriously than their academic careers. A choice that’s paid off well — so never mind your degrees, kids, go take in all the ECMW panels and learn how to become rockstars like these guys.
Where to catch them:
Thursday, 3pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Export Buyer’s Showcase
Thursday, 12:45am @ The Detla Ballroom — ECMA Presents In-flight Safety, 60 LPs, and Vogue Dots
Friday, 10:30pm @ Dusk Lounge — MusicNS Stage
“Animal” by In-Flight Safety
Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys (Bluegrass)
Wanna see a world-class hoedown? Don’t miss these guys. You may never never catch a show quite like it, and they’ve shocked and awed audiences all over the world, including the prestigious Glastonbury Festival. Here in Canada, they were given the Galaxie Supernova Award for their wild performance at the 2012 Ottawa Folk Festival. 2012 was also the year CBC’s Tom Power declared them his favourite discovery of the year at the ECMAs. Gordie’s even earned himself the nickname “Crazy Legs” for how wild he goes onstage.
Where to catch Gordie and the guys:
Thursday, 2pm @ The Delta Ballroom — Export Buyer’s Showcase
Saturday, 9:20pm @ Holy Heart — MusicPEI Stage
Saturday, 12:20 am (after midnight) @ The Delta Ballroom — Warner Music Roots Room
Kim Harris (Singer-songwriter)
Kim’s actually from Corner Brook, but she’s been based in Halifax so long she’s billed as Haligonian. She’s an ECMA nominee this year in the Rising Star category, and their website declares that she “emits rich colours and textures with her full-length debut album, Only The Mighty,” which is in turn described as “a shoreline of metallic moods and airy effervescence.” That’s a language-loaded way of saying her arresting voice will punch you in the heart the way Basia Bulat’s does. Prior to her ECMA nomination, she won not one, but three Music Nova Scotia Awards (New Artist Recording of the Year, Female Artist Recording of the Year, and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year).
Where to catch Kim:
Thursday, 8pm @ Jack Byrne Arena — ECMA Awards Gala
Friday, 9:30pm @ Dusk Lounge — MusicNS Stage
Friday, 11:45pm @ The Ship — Rising Star Showcase
Saturday, 10:30pm @ Jag Hotel — Bluebird North Showcase
“The Weight of it All” by Kim Harris