Summerside goes country

Colin MacLean
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Country Jubilee front and centre as part of Metro Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week 2013

Summerside - There was a nearly packed house Wednesday night as some of P.E.I.'s top country music talent took to the Harbourfront Theatre stage.

They were there for the Country Jubilee, a new event that's part of Metro Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week 2013.

There were performances from Meaghan Blanchard, Eddy Quinn, Nudie and Lester MacPherson as well as Summerside's own Johnny Oliver.

But these were just the dressings around the main course; which was the eight Music P.E.I. awards handed out throughout the night.

This is the first time in several years that the awards ceremony has been back to Western P.E.I., and if Wednesday's near sell out crowd is any indication, it's been a huge success, said Rob Oakie, executive director of Music P.E.I.

"It's fantastic. We're really really happy," said Oakie.

Summerside is definitely a country town, he said, so showcasing the awards with a country/bluegrass show here was definitely the right move.

"We've got some of the top country artists on P.E.I. on stage here tonight.

"So how could you go wrong," he added.

The crowd at Harbourfront Theatre certainly seemed enthusiastic.

They sang along, shouted encouragement and some of the performers even got some good laughs.

The evening even went off an a bit of a tangent after Quinn sang a song about his mom and invited her to get up and accept the award with him.

He took home Country Recording of the year for his album "Rememory."

After that, pretty much every performer mentioned their mom.

Quinn said after the ceremony that he's honoured to be a recipient, and to share the evening with people like his family and friends.

"It's good man. It's just great to have a chance to thank the people who are behind you year round," said Quinn.

"But the true award is getting to play music with my friends, for my friends, all year round. That's an award all in itself," he added.

Quinn also commended the venue, and Music P.E.I. for pulling off a great event.

It's because of shows like the Music P.E.I. awards that many up and coming talents get the chance to broaden their horizons and make the connections necessary to start a career, he said.

"An independent artist just couldn't put on a show of this calibre in a venue as nice as the Harbourfront Theatre without the help of an organization to pull off all the logistics."

Joining Quinn at the podium were fan favourites Bad Habits, who took home the title of Bell Aliant Weekend Warrior(s), a fan choice award decided by public votes. This is the second year in a row Bad Habits have taken home the award.

Popular event P.E.I. Festival of Small Halls was also a multi-year winner, receiving the award for Event of the Year for the third time in row.

Other winners included: the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra for the Achievement in Classical Music, Max Keenlyside for Jazz & Blues Recording of the year, Dennis Ellsworth for Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year and Gordon Belsher for Roots Traditional Recording of the year.

Hannah Rollwage received the Lynn Grishko Memorial Bursary, and joined Blanchard for a performance.

Music Week's next stop will the S.A.C. Songwriters Concert in Georgetown on Thursday night.

The whole event will wrap up at 12th Annual Music P.E.I. Awards Gala, presented by Ticketpro at the Homburg Theatre in Charlottetown on Feb. 2.

Organizations: Harbourfront Theatre, Metro Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week, Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra for the Achievement Homburg Theatre

Geographic location: Summerside, Country Recording, Georgetown Charlottetown

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