Showcasing the Island’s best

Nancy MacPhee
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Music P.E.I. Week, which includes big Summerside show, kicks off tonight

SUMMERSIDE — The biggest week in Island music kicks off Friday night.

Katie McGarry is one of the performers set to take the stage Saturday night for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival Country Jubilee, which takes place at Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre. During the concert, eight Music P.E.I. Awards will be handed out.

Credit Union Music P.E.I. Weeks, in its 13th year, spans nine days and features more than 40 performers taking the stage at 22 different venues across the province.

Intertwined with performances is a three-day conference and, of course, awards that will be handed out in 24 categories.

Rob Oakie, Music P.E.I’s executive director, said it is a week so jam-packed with the Island’s brightest performers that it should not be missed.

“It is the biggest celebration of the year for Island music, there is no question about it,” Oakie said on the eve of the week’s kickoff. “We have been using that as our tagline because it is absolutely true.”

The P.E.I. Brewing Company House of Rock, which takes place at the Charlottetown venue, is the first event of the week. Featured bands are Colour Code, Summerside’s Nathan Wiley and Tim Chaisson. Hosting is Todd MacLean.

“The kick-off event, the House of Rock, is quite a unique show because you’ve got two bands on stage at the same time and they are being interviewed between songs and they go back and forth between songs,” said Oakie. “It is a great format, really interesting and a lot of fun and we are at a new venue there, too.”

During that event the first award of the week — Rock Recording of the Year — will be given out. Nominated in that category are Arrows In The Air with their recoding “Diamond Horizons,” Death Valley Driver for “Graveyard Dead,” Dylan Menzie’s “Heather Avenue,” Jamie MacSwain for “Temporary Moon” and Wildcat for the recording of the same name.

Saturday night, in Summerside, will be the second largest event outside of the P.E.I. Music Week Awards Gala, which is set for the P.E.I. Convention Centre on Feb. 1.

The Harbourfront Theatre will be the site for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival Country Jubilee, which begins at 8 p.m. at the Summerside venue.

“That became such a hit last year. It sold out in Summerside and it is probably the first show that we’ve done in Summerside that sold out in a few years,” said Oakie. “We’re just ecstatic about the lineup. We have a pretty cool lineup.”

Featured performers are songstress Meaghan Blanchard, a past Music P.E.I. Award winner, Charlottetown's Old Stone Station, Janet McGarry and Katie McGarry.

“Actually, we have two relatives on the stage at the same time. Janet is Katie’s aunt,” noted Oakie. “It’s more of a concert-style with three acts. The first is Katie and Janet. They each do their own material but then they do some stuff together.

“Then Old Stone Station, a great country rock band from Kensington, takes the stage followed by Meaghan Blanchad. After she’s done of her solo set, Janet and Katie are going to come out and join her for a song as well.”

It’s during this event that eight awards, the most outside the gala, will be given out.

Those awards are the Bell Aliant Weekend Warrior Award, which is voted on by the public; Achievement in Classical Music; Country Recording of the Year; Educator of the Year; Industry Person of the Year; Media Person of the Year; Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year; and Roots Traditional Recording of the Year.

Blanchard and Old Stone Station are both up for Country Recording of the Year.

The Country Jubilee isn’t the only show set for Summerside. On Jan. 31, during what’s dubbed Friday Night Live, the Tap Room will host Summerside’s Jordan Cameron and The Meds, who have drummer from the city.

There are several shows during the week scattered throughout the province.

“We made a lot of effort over the last three to four years to try and make this a province-wide event and I think we’ve definitely made some huge strides this year,” said Oakie. “We have shows in Montague, Georgetown, North Rustico, Belle River, Kensington, Summerside, Alberton, Breadalbane and Charlottetown.”

Alberton’s Albert and Crown, the Dunk in Breadalbane and the Kensington Club are among the 13 venues hosting performances as part of Friday Night Live.

Another highlight is the Songwriters Concert in Georgetown, hosted by Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, which is performing at Eastlink Arena the following night.

“It’s turned into a monster of a festival,” said Oakie. “Over the course of nine days there are actually eight days of events. There’s only one day we take off and that’s Sunday.”

He said the music on offer during the week and that being recognized via the awards is as varied and eclectic as the performers taking the stage.

“It’s become really quite diverse. We’ve certainly got some great roots artists, there’s no question about it. There is still a good bit of traditional music being created but there’s also loads of pop, rock and some electronica. There’s a hip-hop scene,” said Oakie. “There’s just lots of stuff going on now.”

For a complete list of events, awards and nominees, and for information on how to buy tickets and for show times, visit

Organizations: P.E.I. Brewing Company House of Rock, P.E.I. Convention Centre, Harbourfront Theatre Blanchard and Old Stone Station Kensington Club

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington Death Valley Country Recording Georgetown Breadalbane Montague Rustico Belle River

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