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AMONG FRIENDS: Following the music

Katie Delaney rarely passes up an opportunity to sing but she also enjoys collaborating with other local musicians, whether on stage, in an informal jam session or behind a camera.
Katie Delaney rarely passes up an opportunity to sing but she also enjoys collaborating with other local musicians, whether on stage, in an informal jam session or behind a camera. - Rosalie MacEachern

One way or another, Katie Delaney has always been following the music. 

“My earliest memories go back to my grandparents’ kitchen, singing to the music my grandfather (Enoch Fortune) and my Uncle Dan (Fortune) were playing around the table ,” she said.
Her grandmother would sometimes pull out a small tape recorder and capture the trio’s performance, her grandfather on the fiddle, her uncle playing guitar and Delaney singing.

“They always encouraged me, always told me I could do whatever it was I thought I wanted to do,” she said.

She is also grateful they had a wide interest in music.

“They’d play whatever caught their attention. It might be Celtic or country or bluegrass or anything else. I got a better appreciation of music than if they’d only played one style.”   

Delaney is part of an age demographic that frequently leaves Pictou County and while she went away for a time, she is happy to be back home.

 “I’ve lived in other provinces and I’ve travelled but it is always nice to be able to come home to live. Given the choice, it is where I want to be.”

Delaney works as a human resources manager for a construction company in Dartmouth, a job which music indirectly led her to. 

“If you are involved in music from an early age you are likely to pick up a lot of different skills like photography, videography, writing, promotion, social media - you just have to. My employer was a client when I was in another job and they were looking for these kinds of skills.”

As for the commute from the home she shares with her partner, fellow musician Justin Johnson, in Central West River, she said it does not take her any longer than she used to spend travelling within HRM.

“I get in my car and I’m moving, not stuck in traffic most of the way. It is a good time to listen to music and play around with song ideas.

Last winter Delaney filmed and edited a music video for the East River Rats’ popular song, Grandfather’s Tartan. It was released in April, on Tartan Day.  

“It was filmed in the depths of winter in Merigomish so it was extremely cold. The band members are friends so that helped but it challenging in a good way. It is such a great song and it sounds like it came from way back in time, which I love.”

As challenging as the filming was, the long and painstaking editing process was the more difficult, particularly because some old footage had to be worked in. 

“I wanted to do justice to the song and the band. I’m pretty happy with the video, though I can see things that could be improved.”

This fall she filmed and edited another music video for local four-piece pop rock band, Bigger Brighter Lights.

“Every band and every video are different but you try to make it compliment the music and I love when that works.”

It was necessity that first put her behind the camera.  

“I was in lots of small bands growing up and we’d want a video but we had no one tp make one for us so I just picked up the camera and gave it a shot. I learned as I went along and eventually taught myself the basics and I practiced.”

For the last couple of months Delaney has been hosting an open mic show at The Spot on Provost Street.

“It is a really exciting opportunity to showcase all the amazing talent in Pictou County. I can’t tell you all the reasons but there is no question, PIctou County has incredible musical talent,” she said.

Every week she asks a special guest to share the hosting duties. 

“It is a way to bring in a mix of talent and let people know about all the bands and singers and other musicians who are out there. Hopefully, we can get people singing along as they enjoy their wings and drinks. Or they can just sit back and listen to the music.”

Delaney suspects local school music programs have something to do with the talent in the county. She attended elementary school in Trenton but later switched to the former New Glasgow Junior High.

“It was all about the music program. My father and stepmother were teaching at New Glasgow Junior High and it had a bigger music program. They thought I’d benefit from that. It was a good move because it did give me more opportunities.”

At North Nova Education Centre, Delaney signed up for everything musical on offer.

“Mr. (Andrew) Alcorn asked me what instrument I wanted to play. I looked around at all the possibilities and told him I wanted to play everything. Looking back, I think that is how I ended up playing the oboe.”

While she did play the oboe for a couple of years, it is not high on her list of favourite instruments. 

“It might be fun to pick it up and try it again sometime but I’m pretty sure I’m a lot happier with a guitar. In high school I was playing in grunge bands and nobody had an oboe.”

These days the music she most often plays leans a lot closer to folk.

“The skeleton of my music is definitely folk, very East Coast. My own lyrics are very nautical and I’m very much into story-telling. The boys in the band (KD and the Bourbon Boys) come from a heavier background and they add the rock, bluegrass and other influences.”

There was a point, after the death of her grandfather, when Delaney, who has the initials EF tattooed above her wrist, thought she lost her love of music. 

“For a while I just couldn’t play or sing, I couldn’t make myself.  My uncle Dan told me I needed music but I couldn’t seem to get it back until one long day I wrote a song aI felt so much better.”

She credits that song and the chance to play with her uncle at the Highlander Pub in Pictou with putting her back on the music track.

“The song took me a long way but there was a night after that when we were on the stage together. We were playing and singing and I looked over at Dan, who is one of the best musicians I know, and he smiled back. In that moment it was just as if we were back in the kitchen with my grandfather again and all the joy came back.”

Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer. She seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you know someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at rosaliemaceachern4@gmail.com

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