SUMMERSIDE — It’s a week for the Island’s best musical talents to shine.
Friday is the kickoff to Metro Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week, nine days filled with workshops, performances and awards recognizing the efforts of some of the province’s most talented performers.
Executive director, Rob Oakie, said the event has grown since its inception more than a decade ago, from the one-night only awards show to several days of workshops, to help musicians further their careers beyond the shores of Prince Edward Island.
“It’s turned into a pretty massive undertaking, which we’re quite proud of,” said Oakie. “We’re really happy with the way things are coming together this year. It’s looking like it is going to be a fantastic event.”
New shows and awards are added as the Island music scene grows and the musical stylings of the province’s eclectic performers broaden.
“In the last five years it has really taken on a whole new level of professionalism and entertainment,” said Oakie. “Now we’ve got an event that runs from the 25th of January to Feb. 2.”
The signature event and the culmination of Music P.E.I. Week is the annual awards show, this year taking place at the Confederation Centre of the Arts on Feb. 2.
Performers confirmed to take the stage during the big show including Tim Chaisson, who is nominated for multiple awards, Two Hours Traffic, Ian Toms and Island native Jen Grant.
“It will be a great night,” said Oakie, noting CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence will act as the evening’s host. “We are handing out 12 awards that night.”
Unlike in its early years, all awards are not being handed out during the gala.
The first award — Visual Artists of the Year — will be handed out Friday during the opening reception at Back Alley Music in Charlottetown.
That night, during the first big night of Music P.E.I. Week, a new signature event called Nudie’s House of Rock at The Mack, the Hunter’s Ale House Rock Recording of the Year will be given out.
“The format is something completely different. I don’t think anything has been done like this in P.E.I. before, that’s for sure,” he said, noting the concept was ‘borrowed’ from a popular television show on BBC2. “It’s a unique show where Nudie (formerly of Nudie and the Turks) puts multiple bands on the stage at the same time and he interviews them between songs and he goes back and forth from band to band.”
The first set of Nudie’s House of Rock features young emerging Island groups, Coyote and The Meds, and, during the second set, veteran acts Two Hours Traffic and Paper Lions take the stage.
Oakie expects that new event to sellout.
“Nudie is quite a revered sort of iconic musician in the P.E.I. music scene. A lot of younger guys look up to him,” Oakie said of the night’s host.
The second new signature event — Country Jubilee — is in the west, at Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre on Wednesday, Jan. 30, and features some of the Island’s most renowned country artists.
“We’ve been searching for a show to bring to Summerside for a while, something that was going to work and something that the audiences would really support,” said Oakie. “I think this show has the potential to be a great fit for the community and we’re putting the top country artists in the province on the stage.”
Rising star Meaghan Blanchard, Eddy Quinn, Nudie and Lester MacPherson, along with Summerside’s own Johnny Oliver, will perform during Country Jubilee.
From the stage at Harbourfront Theatre, eight Music P.E.I. Awards — Country Recording of the Year, Event of the Year, Jazz and Blues Recording of the year, Roots Traditional Recording of the Year, Achievement in Classical Music, Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year, the Lynn Grishko Memorial Bursary and, the only award voted on by the fans, the Bell Aliant Weekend Warrior Award — will be handed out.
The following night, down east at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown, is the third of four signature events, the Songwriters Concert.
Colin MacDonald of The Trews is the night’s host and four awards — SOCAN Songwriter of the Year, Sound Production of the Year, Male Solo Recording of the Year and Venue of the Year — will be awarded.
The fourth signature event, Friday Night Live, is set for several Island venues, including Summerside’s Tap Room.
“Featured at the Tap Room will be the Chris Dalziel Band and Seventh Stone. It is going to be pretty much a rock night there,” said Oakie. “We have nine venues across P.E.I., from Charlottetown all the way up to Alberton, we’re at the Albert & Crown. We’ve got 25 artists that are playing. Friday Night Live has become, again, a signature event for us. It’s been really popular for the last five years so we’ll continue to do that.”
Throughout the week, various Music P.E.I. artists will be on stage at numerous Island venues across the Island, playing more intimate shows for fans.
Oakie said it is going to be an exciting, music-filled and tremendous week for Island not only artists but for fans.
“We’re seeing really diverse styles and genres and types of music, it is great to see. We’ve got an incredible pool of talent here.”