It was a sparkling night that celebrated the best in P.E.I. music.
And by the time the 13th annual Music P.E.I. Awards Gala presented by Ticketpro was over, a single P.E.I. band had taken the lion’s share of prize hardware.
Paper Lions, an indie rock band comprised of singer and guitarist John MacPhee, drummer David Cyrus MacDonald, guitarist Colin Buchanan and bass guitarist Rob MacPhee, won five awards. They included album of the year, entertainer of the year, group recording of the year, pop recording of the year and video of the year.
The second time band members were called back to the stage, they appeared surprised.
“Usually at these things, you just win one. This is wonderful,” says John, seconds after winning group recording of the year.
Then as each additional honour was bestowed upon them, they appeared more and more humble.
“The journey has been incredible. So many people have helped us create this record and we’re incredibly grateful,” says John. “We want to say thank you to the Island music community and to everyone who has been with us over the past nine years. You’ve been there to let us grow, stretch, change directions, change our name and change our sound. You’ve supported us through everything. Thank you very much,” says John, standing at the podium with his band mates to accept the group’s fifth and final award, album of the year for the band’s release My Friends.
Later, when asked about his reaction, the band’s drummer had this to say:
“It felt terrific. I was also a great chance to think back about all the different people on P.E.I. who encouraged us and allowed us to go down this path,” said MacDonald.
Some of those people included Rob Oakie of Music P.E.I. and guitar sideman Gordon Belsher.
“It all started during Music P.E.I. week and we were playing at the after party. I came down off stage and (Belsher) said, ‘I have someone I want you to meet.’ And Gordon took me over to a table to meet Grady Poe and he sat me down and said, ‘I’m going to go and get you guys a couple glasses of wine.’ Things started there,” said MacDonald, adding that Poe became their manager and their music career took off afterward.
The drummer also praised the women in their lives - Kathleen MacPhee, Dorothy Dahn, Morgan Salnier and Julia Kun, for the support they have given band members. “We travel a lot and have for quite a long time and as anyone here in a relationship knows how hard it can be to be away from your loved ones and not to be able to get that support of your partner for an extended period of time, can be really rough. And somehow these incredible women have, through supporting each other, have become supportive of us, understanding that this is a dream of ours. They have made it possible. It’s one of the absolute foundations of us, of our ability to exist,” said MacDonald.
He also praised their ever-supportive followers.
“Our fans are amazing. We have 35,000 newsletter followers and 35,000 Facebook fans. Besides (help from) Islanders, Jeff Leake is here from Sirius XM Canada this weekend. He’s supported the band for years and has helped us break into the United States. “We’re so grateful to everyone for the groundswell of support.”
The gala was held at the new P.E.I. Convention Centre located on the Charlottetown waterfront.
It was the conclusion to the nine day province-wide celebration of the achievements of Island musicians.
AT A GLANCE
The winners are:
- Paper Lions won six awards: Album of the year, entertainer of the year, group recording of the year, pop recording of the year, SOCAN songwriter of the year and video of the year.
- Meaghan Blanchard won country recording of the year and female solo recording of the year.
- Dennis Ellsworth took home two awards including roots contemporary recording of the year and male solo recording of the year.
- Colour Code: New artist of the year.
- Wild Cat: Rock recording of the year.
- Gordie Mackeeman & His Rhythm Boys: Roots traditional recording of the year.
- Tim Chaisson: Touring artist of the year.
- UPEI Wind Symphony: Achievement in classical music.
- Barry O’Brien: Weekend warrior.
- Jon Matthews: Producer of the year.
- Charlottetown Pop: Event of the year.
- Trailside Café: Venue of the Year
- Gordon Belsher: Lifetime achievement award.
- Andrea MacDonald: Lynn Grishko bursary.
- Alan Dowling: Educator of the year.
- Pat Deighan: Industry person of the year.
- Todd MacLean, The Guardian: Media person of the year.
- PixbyLorne: Visual artist of the year.
- Dan Ledwell: Rooted to the Island award.