I admit it. I’m old. But I love music, and I have memories of festivals gone by, the relics of aged picture frames and groups huddled in front of light trails and stages, the smiles that stand like a feather in time, dust covered. Seemingly lately, life has gotten in the way. When Music PEI announced the May Run Music Festival, I couldn’t have been happier to get back on the scene.
As the Canadian Song Conference kicked off last Wednesday in Charlottetown, musicians tuned their instruments up for a weekend of heavy play.
Biggest Winners: Paper Lions – Pop Recording of the Year, Video of the Year, Digital Achievement of the Year, Group Recording of the Year (a tie with Ten Strings and a Goatskin). Dylan Menzie – Male Solo Recording of the Year, Entertainer of the Year . KINLEY – Socan Songwriter of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Female Solo Recording of the Year.
Emilee Sorrey (nominated for Album of the Year) hosted the opening Act of #MRMF2017, an Open Mic Takeover at Baba’s Lounge. Performers included Ben Gallant, Joe MacMillan and his band, Aaron Turner (electric guitar), Simon Joseph (bass) and Macus Dirberger (drums), and Emilee’s own band, Sorrey, in addition to a number of local players and poets.
It was Georgetown’s turn to host next at the King’s Playhouse with PEI’s Songwriter of the Year Concert, a sweet little lineup of all the nominees. The event was hosted by Juno and ECMA Award-winner Lennie Gallant, and he took to the stage with artists Dylan Menzie, Nick Donneff, and KINLEY. Music PEI Executive Director Rob Oakie was on hand to introduce the nominees. The four musicians chatted about finding meaning in songwriting, and each showcased a few of their own.
“Some voice on him for a little fella!” -KINLEY, on the comments of Menzie fans.
Menzie (winner of Male Solo Recording of the Year and Entertainer of the Year) carried us along on the waves of his tenor guitar with tunes such as ‘Fran’s Song’, Doneff (Musician of the Year) made us laugh with stage banter and the gentle melody of ‘Late August Days’, and KINLEY gave me the shivers with her affirmation song, ‘Microphone’, which has opened up important conversation about sexual assault, and for which she won the award of Songwriter of the Year.
The Canadian Songsmith Sessions was a collaborative effort, showcasing the work of both Island musicians and their Canadian Songwriter Challenge counterparts –from all over Canada. Meaghan Blanchard was paired with Halifax’s own Gabrielle Papillon, Dennis Ellsworth teamed up with Saskatchewan’s Tyler Gilbert, Andrew Waite with New Brunswick’s Ross Neilson, and Rachel Beck with Jordan Alexander. The duos filled St. Paul’s Church with people, emotion, and penetrating harmonies.
Saturday brought out more music lovers in droves, as people piled into the Florence Simmons Performance Hall for Vishten and the Atlantic String Machine (Award for Achievement in Classical or Jazz), to the Centre Belle Alliance in Summerside for Music Mosaic, and to the pop show at Fishbones which presented Stabbing Joy, Joe MacMillan, and ambient dream popper, Sorrey.
The awards were presented at a ceremony hosted by Music PEI on Sunday afternoon, the light blue glass trophies making waves, and honouring those here who help to keep the Island’s industry not only prosperous, but profitable. But the fun wasn’t over yet…
BEST SHOW: MAY RUN MELTDOWN
Florence Simmons Performance Hall lit up Sunday Night for the May Run Meltdown. Nick Donneff came out first with his Mother’s Day jokes and his pawn shop guitar, and Russell Louder nailed it with their trancy beats in black and white with circles and loops at the set breaks. Menzie’s band kept it tight and filled the auditorium with Dylan’s expansive vocal range, and SORREY awed us with heavy guitar and bass, maracas and high hats, and her long salty notes.
To finish the show, Paper Lions arrived in full colour, with the lights, vocals, glittery vest, guitar jams and full sound to match. These indie pop rockers invigorated the crowd with an electric energy, and soon floaters began to leave their seats and swing down front with a few moves of their own.
Thanks to Music PEI for all the good times at the May Run, the PEI festival that celebrates and fosters all the talented musicians here. As Lennie Gallant said, “There must be something in the water, and if it’s not in the water it’s in the lobster, the potatoes and the craft beer.”
For a full list of Music PEI Award Nominees, check out their website at Music PEI.