With so many incredible, un-missable performances scheduled for ECMW it can be hard deciding who to see... Especially if you haven’t heard some of the artists before. To make sure you don't miss what could be your favourite performance of the year, we highlighted a few artists to show you some of the amazing talent that's coming to Cape Breton in less than two weeks!
Dedicated to Amanda Todd in the wake of her tragic suicide, Black & Grey’s song Goodbye Misery really hits home for anyone who’s felt like an outsider, or been bullied at school. Brandon Johnson and Mike Mellen’s lyrics fit perfectly with the song’s simple and honest harmony. The song itself really shines when stripped down to just pinch harmonics plucked out on acoustic guitar by Mike. The best part of this song is that all the proceeds from iTunes purchases go to Leave Out Violence, a foundation based in Halifax, NS.
Tristan describes his sound as "deep, interpersonal tracks full of heavy drums and atmosphere, to place the listener not just into a song, but in an entire world of feeling.” And he would be right. On the track Nessie’s Lock, Tristan paints an all-too relatable picture on a first date: nervous, overly self-critical, and ingratiating. The instrumental backing his voice is smooth and eerie, and when combined with his lyrics leaves you with an almost surreal, otherworldly vibe.
If you like 90s groups like the Beatnuts, but are in a more laid-back mood, then you’ll dig French Inhale by Kam Speech. The instrumental and overall vibe on this track is a bit of a departure, coming across more relaxed and less aggressive than Kam’s other works. Despite not following his usual plan of attack, Kam seems at home with his lines coming across like a slow burn, rather than delivering them like hammers being hurled at the listener. It’s a pitch-perfect, old school song that reminds you of all the best parts of 1990s hip hop.
City Natives are not for the feint of heart, and as arguably the most explicit group on this list, their song Beast Mode pulls no punches. The 4-some relentlessly takes turns annihilating the Beaatz -produced instrumental, giving you a laundry-list of reasons why they’re the best at what they do. If we had to sum-up why you should listen to this song, it would be the line “..and our respect is the hardest to gain, it ain’t hard to explain, keep it 100 whenever we rhyme."
If you think nothing on earth could make you love bagpipes, Kenneth MacKenzie, Kevin Dugas and Keith MacDonald (the three core members of Nuallan) could probably charm you into thinking otherwise. The trio’s charisma shines through in their bright and upbeat song The Grey Buck. While the song has all the hallmarks of classic Gaelic dance-piping from Cape Breton, it really hits its stride at 1:40 seconds in. The strong pipes play a beautiful melody that borders on melancholy, while the song’s tempo meanders. If you need one song to understand Nuallan’s range, this is it.
It’s hard to nail down this traditional scottish folk band’s sound and distill it into just one song. Rura’s music not only shifts between songs, from atmospheric to catchy, to instrumental, to ballad; but also within the same song, from reserved to brash. This wide range of emotion and sound is their strength, and to really understand how they use it, watch their video for Allegory.
Imagine being able to take the best road trip of your life with all your friends, and then turning that feeling into a band. That’s what you get with The East Pointers. Their debut album is mostly upbeat instrumental jigs, but their best work seems to be in their more approachable pop-oriented songs like Work That Way. The East Pointers have hit a very difficult mark to master; mixing hip, contemporary sensibilities with traditional east coast folk music.
First, this quintet’s Gaelic name is pronounced “Dive.” Second, if you thirst for Gaelic music, language, and culture, then this band will be a tall, crisp glass of water. Daimh’s song O Fair A-Nall am Botal features the beautiful voice of Ellen MacDonald. Her sweet but somber voice soars above the band’s fiddle, guitar and flute, painting a picture of distant memories, loss, and perseverance. While O Fair A-Nall am Botal is one of Daimh’s more down-tempo tracks, it possesses the same flavour that you find in all their works.
Do you love Bon Iver? Are you wishing you could listen to Bon Iver at the ECMW? Well, Devarrow isn’t Bon Iver but he does live within a similar world; one permeated with folky, twangy, rhythm-driven guitar anthems. The title track off of Devarrow’s 2015 album does a great job of introducing you to the hallmarks of his music: A powerfully haunting voice, a metallic sounding guitar, and quirky but noddable drum patterns. Listen to The Great Escape and there’s a 10/10 chance that you won’t be stopping after the first song.
Andy’s voice is definitely one of a kind, having an interesting quality that sounds unique whether it's on its own or backed by a variety of different instruments. Paris Sky off his most recent album is a great example of this. The song’s guitar, strings, and piano all take turns in the spotlight with Andy’s voice, and somehow his delivery and lyrics are never overpowered or outgunned. This is no small feat, and only speaks to his vocal versatility. Hearing Andy Brown in person isn’t something you should miss for anything.
A little bit of country, a little bit of folk, and mysterious lyrics sung by a timeless sounding voice. Amelia Curran’s Coming For You is her war-cry, one that starts softly and builds into a crescendo that marches triumphantly. If you see her perform live, you’ll be riding shotgun on an adventure with her. The type of adventure where the destination doesn’t matter nearly as much as the journey along the way.
If you have to pick one song to to tell you what Gabrielle is all about, Got You Well is it. The song draws you in with Gabrielle’s voice casting what almost feels like a curse. Listening to the song’s swampy, gothic folk and solid rhythmic backbone, you can almost picture ships being dashed upon rocks. Got You Well shows the extremes that Gabrielle’s music can reach.
Jenn Grant’s got a sound that’s tough to nail down. Her work ranges from pop to folk with some rock sensibilities. One thing that always remains is the relaxed dreamlike vibe of her songs, which is due in large part to her otherworldly voice. Her voice has been described as sublime and sounding like a dove cooing in heaven. Although we’ve never been to heaven, her song Bring Me A Rose has brought us about as close as we can get while still alive.
Heather, of the platinum-selling family band The Rankin Family, has one of the most iconic singing voices to ever come from Cape Breton. If you’re not familiar with her past then a great way to get caught up would be to watch this performance
with Bruce Guthro. She’s releasing her debut solo album in April of 2016, and if her single Everybody Wants To Rule The World
(a cover of the Tears For Fears hit) is any indication, it’s expected to be a departure from her past work.
Charlie’s music is never without soul, and his song The World Around Me is a great example of his work. He’s not always as upbeat as he is on this song, but he never fails to bring the same level of intensity and commitment. His voice always brims with volatile emotion, making you appreciate just how someone can be so deeply passionate. We think if you had to take on the impossible task of restricting Charlie A’Court to a one-word definition, it would be this: Passion.
What matters most to Ken is family. Whether it’s his daughters, his peers, his city, or his country, Ken seems to have the same deep love and loyalty to them like you would with your family. You can hear this plainly on his song Home, from his 2015 album No Dark No Light. A love letter full of pride, longing, and sentiment, the song manages to be universally relatable even if you’re not from NewfoundLand, the province it’s written about. Guitar-centric folk is Ken’s arena, and the stands are filled with his family.
Listening to this song will make you wonder this: How is Tim Chaisson not Hollywood-famous? Tim’s sound here reflects the "confident but not cocky" star quality he gives off. His song Beat This Heart Of Mine mixes acoustic pop with a dash of folk and country, and is proof of the old saying “the sum is greater than the parts”. The song is made an instant classic by the guitar, rhythm, song structure, and vocals backed by Serena Ryder, each sharing the stage perfectly. We could keep singing the praises of this song, but we need to go press ‘repeat’ on Youtube.
You can really hear Christina’s influences in I’ll Be Alright, and that’s a great thing. Don’t misinterpret- she is not a copycat. Instead, she’s able to take the best parts of her heroes and use them as inspiration to create her own unique sound that stands on its own. Standing out is in itself a difficult task when you’re competing in the crowded genre of adult contemporary pop-rock, but Christina has excelled at doing exactly that. Go see Christina Martin if you love her musical influences, and thirst for a unique sound by a master singer-songwriter.
“A drinking town with a yachting problem” is how old man Luedecke describes his sailing-obessed hometown, Chester. In a similar way, you could describe Old Man Luedecke as a storyteller with a music problem. Yodelady is a prime example of how his songs are miniature movies, complete with characters and setting, served with a banjo backbone. If you love heartfelt and intimate glimpses into the life of musicians with the delivery of a tall tale, Old Man Luedecke will deliver and then some.
We made it! Now that you’re more familiar with some of the artists, you can head over to the Membertou's Trade and Convention Center or Cape Breton's Center 200 website to get tickets to your favourites before they sell out. Remember, these are just a few of the performances, so be sure to check out ECMA.com for all performances and updates.