By Amy MacKenzie and Christopher Cameron – THE NEWS
HALIFAX – Pictou County talent was well represented at East Coast Music Week with several artists receiving multiple nominations and playing in showcases all over Halifax. Dave Gunning won song of the year for “These Hands” while the Stanfields picked up fans choice entertainer of the year and group recording of the year and George Canyon won fans choice video of the year award.
On Friday, Gunning was standing in the audience waving to local musician Jim Dorie, who is new to the music scene, as he performed songs from his album ‘Ghosts of Pictou County’ on the opportunity stage. Gunning said he’s proud of the caliber of Pictou County musicians and the diversity of the music that comes from the region.
“There’s lots of talent in Pictou County for sure. One of the things that makes me proud of the talent at home is that it’s very diverse,” he said. “Jim’s obviously folk, I’m more folk rooted, but there’s so many great rock bands and blues bands and jazz players in Pictou County.”
Gunning said even though he’s been coming to East Coast Music Week since 1991, this one is especially important for him because it’s a chance to honour the life and musical career of the late Stompin’ Tom, who toured with Gunning, had a profound influence him and recently passed away.
“Tom is the original Canadiana story song writer. He’s been doing it before anyone, probably even before Stan Rogers. He was writing about local stories and people and places that he knew and I’m not really a great one for writing introspective songs about me or love songs, I like to write songs about something else, something that maybe means something to other people,” he said. “I find that the more honest I am in life, the better things seem to go and that’s something I learned from Stompin’ Tom. It’s definitely from that same school, writing about real things.”
Gunning remembered Stompin’ Tom throughout the weekend by mentioning memories of him during performances and showing up to one performance wearing plaid flannel pajamas because when the two were on tour together, Gunning had showed up to a meeting wearing pajamas and Stompin’ Tom told him if he had the guts to show up to a meeting in his pajamas, he’s all right.
In addition to winning Song of the Year, Gunning had several nominations for this year’s awards including Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year and for Folk Recording of the Year for ‘No More Pennies,’ which Pictou County’s Gabrielle Papillon was also nominated for. That award went to Rose Cousins.
Dorie, who was nominated for Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year along with Pictou County’s Fleur Mainville, also said he is enjoying the ECMA weekend and the opportunities it brings for emerging artists like him.
- photo by AMY MACKENZIE - THE NEWS"> Pictou County's Dave Gunning performs "These Hands" at the East Coast Music Week gala after receiving the ECMA for song of the year for the same song." />
“You get to meet festival programmers from all over Canada, United States various places in the world,” he said. “There’s lots of other musicians, lots of great shows going on, people I’ve met since I started playing, just to hang out with them and have a beer because people live in P.E.I., or they live in Newfoundland, live in New Brunswick and this is the only time that you see them so there’s a lot of that camaraderie and friendship things going on as well as the official part of the weekend. “
Dorie didn’t win Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year for his first album “Ghosts of Pictou County,” but said the whole experience and being nominated is just as satisfying as taking home an award.
“The nomination itself was the thrill for me, just the fact that you get nominated because when you send CDs in to be considered, they’re juried and they stand on their own merit so the nomination, I won already, as soon as I got the nomination…I couldn’t believe it because it just doesn’t happen when you start this thing as a retirement career and actually get this kind of feedback, it’s astounding actually.”
Also seen performing over the weekend was The Stanfields, which has two former Stellarton residents in the band: Jon Landry on vocals and guitar and Mark Murphy on drums. In addition to their fans choice entertainer award, they were also nominated for rock recording of the year and group recording of the year for its album “Death and Taxes.”
Wintersleep, which also has two members hailing from Stellarton: Loel Campbell on drums and Mike Bigelow on bass, had six nominations: group recording of the year for the album ‘Hello Hum’, Songwriter of the Year for ‘In Came the Flood,’ album of the year, fan’s choice entertainer, fans choice video for ‘In Came the Flood,’ and Rock Recording of the Year.
Canyon who won for fans choice video of the year for ‘Saddle Up’ was also nominated for fans choice entertainer. Also nominated were: Hilton Reddick of the band Working Class, which was nominated for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year and Blues Recording of the year, which went to Charlie A’Court for his album ‘Triumph and Disaster,’ Donovan Morgan of sp00nfed was nominated for Electronic Recording of the Year, which went to English Words and Liam Brophy (Leeboy), originally from Stellarton, was also nominated for Blues Recording of the Year.