Archive for February, 2008

East Coast Music Awards

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The East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) are such a highly anticipated event in the Maritimes…they always take place in February and they always come with an entire festival. I always watch them on T.V. because I am such a big fan of the local music here, but I have never actually attended them before. This year I was very excited to hear they were being held in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The ECMAs are nothing like any other music festival I have attended before. First off, they take place in mid-winter. Most music festivals happen in the summer when you can camp out in a field and all the hippies don’t shower and you accidentally get second-hand high from all the pot-smoking. After my weekend, I have to wonder why no one thought of this before! What a novel idea to host a 4-day festival in the dead of winter. Sure you have to compete with the natural elements, but no one has anything better to do anyway. Plus no heat stroke which is a bonus.

I wish I could have attended the entire thing, but alas I only went for one day. The line-up of musician was phenomenal and every pub, bar, and event centre in town was packed full of live music and crazy fans. Unfortunately I could only be in one place at a time so with my two other friends I saw about 10 different bands in about 10 hours!

Our first stop was Dolan’s pub to hear Wintersleep in the afternoon. These guys are fantastic so check them out if you have a chance. The pub was packed and we arrived just in time. The band played our two favorite songs, The Infinite Yes and Weighty Ghost, just as we cramped our bodies in between a bunch of strangers. Do to the extreme discomfort of the situation we stayed only to hear a few songs and then broke free into the fresh air. We then walked about 30 feet to another pub called Nicky Zees which was hosting the Music PEI stage. They were doing an acoustic afternoon set with various artist and we found a spot to squat and watched Catherine MacLellan and Nathan Wiley perform. Although i’ve heard them both before they still blew me away. Nathan had an amazing percussionist playing with him (Keith something or other) and Catherine wowed the crowed with her confident new-bluegrass sound. It definitely made me proud to be an Islander.

After the PEI showcase we headed to the Back Nine across the street where the highly anticipated Music Nova Scotia night was happening. We thought we should go early to get a good spot, but were saddened to find the doors didn’t open until a half an hour before the event. This meant that we had to wait in line for an hour and half just to get in (i would say there were 600-800 people in line…i couldn’t see the end of it behind us). Thankfully we snagged some seats and made friends with the sound booth guys. The line up for the event went like this:

Ruby Jean and the Thoughful Bees-kind of an urban-techno sound that was more about the mixing than the musicians

Jill Barber –I love this girl. She is folk meets jazz with a little country thrown in…like Norah Jones mixed with Jewel (she was nominated for Entertainer of the Year and up for a Juno). The only problem was the intensity and noise of a crowd ready to party, listening to a lounge and theatre musician. She desperately attempted to quiet the group to play her romantic ballads but it wasn’t happening and that just sucks. The truth is some people come to hear the bands and some come to party. It’s unfortunate for the former group having to mix with the latter group.

Jordan Croucher–Hip Hop artist from Halifax. I will never understand how a rapper from Halifax has the same accent as one from L.A. This was actually a surprise for me because I ended up really liking this group.

The Sleepless Nights–too much screaming for me. Why do people want to scream into microphones? i will never understand that. I think they were the most non-conventional rock/punk group i have ever seen. very funny…all the guys had mullets with molestashes (creepy mustaches) and trucker hats on.

The Joel Plaskett Emergency–Perhaps the most anticipated band of the night and they did not disappoint. I love this band. Joel Plaskett’s songwriting causes me to bow down, along with his high energy, interactive performance. He cleaned up at the ECMAs taking home 6 awards altogether. I admit I was a little star struck as I’ve been wanting to see these guys play for a long time now.

The Trews–o.k…confession time. We actually left before they went on. The truth was that the three of us were so exhausted and the place was very crowded. By this time we had been in this one pub for 5 hours and were very hungry. PLUS the washrooms were impossible to get to (unless you crowd surfed there) and two out of four stalls were broken. But, I have seen the Trews play before and our leaving is in no way discrediting their awesomeness. They are such a great band, amazing performers, and a fantastic pick for the headliners that night. I guess I am just getting old…

In the end I didn’t get home until 4 a.m. but it was worth it (this has largely to do with an hour-long wait in the MacDonald’s drive through–no exaggeration). The whole day had me thinking about a lot of things. First off, how much PHENOMENAL talent we have in the East Coast. There are still about a million artists I would have loved to have seen but didn’t get the chance like: the Chucky Danger Band, Damhnai Doyle, Tim Chaisson, Jessica Rhaye, Two Hours Traffic, Jon Matthews, Saddle River String Band, Adam Olmstead, Chelsea Nisbett, etc…I could got on and on. What I am saying is that for a small region we have a lot of talent.

Secondly, the truth about musicians is that they are really just popularized geeks. If they weren’t on stage holding a guitar then would anyone look twice? I am not saying they are over-rated. In fact, I am pleased that people appreciate good tunes when they hear them, but let’s call a spade a spade. Joel Plaskett is skinny and lanky and one of his band members wears a fedora…yet somehow I get a little drooly when he comes on stage. They are just like anyone else, maybe having even been more socially awkward than the average teenager. They had a passion and worked incessantly at it while their parents rolled their eyes at their obsessive need to learn a cheesy Barenaked Ladies’ guitar lick alone in their bedroom; meanwhile their friends played basketball and put far too much energy into thinking about the prom or how they could get beer for Friday night. They were probably in the band and played clarinet for years, or they joined the theatre club and sang solos in the high school production of Little Shop of Horrors. We kind of idolize them imagining them to have always been cool and naturally good at what they do, growing up listening to Simon and Garfunkle and Coltrane and never once being tricked into liking either top 40 hits or show tunes. I think it would be nicer to appreciate musicians for the passion and work they put into their music rather than for a false image that we often force upon them, filling our own need to idolize someone. I don’t think that is healthy for us or the artist.

But that’s just my opinion. Anyone else?

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Babies, Diamonds, Falling Cupboards, and Sinfulness

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Recap of the past week…it’s amazing what can happen in just a 7 day period….

Thursday: I get word that good friends of mine who are having a baby have been rushed in for a c-section 10 days early. There is a lot of waiting around until finally we find out it’s a girl and mom and baby are fine! hooray!!

Rush to hospital in Saint John after work to visit new baby who looks very perfect and I even get to hold her! Poor mother is very sick and slightly delusional as the stupid doctors didn’t give her any pain meds! Kudos to her for putting up with a room full of family and friends all evening! The whole thing is pretty crazy really. I mean one minute there is this unknown thing inside her stomach and the next minute it’s a real person with fingers and toes and everything.

Friday–off to Boston! My sister needs help picking out an engagement ring so my friend Kristi and I go to help. Plus, really, I think we were both in need of a weekend outside of St. Stephen. It’s too small in this town sometimes…

Get to Boston (I no longer cringe in fear of driving into the city! …big accomplishment)…and head straight to IKEA. Where else would we go first? Kristi is a decorating diva and has decided she’s going to help me re-do my bedroom. She keeps loading me up with all the essentials. She really should own some shares in the store or something because she knows exactly where everything is located, how much it is, how much it was last month, what colors it comes in, how reliable it is…etc. And the store is three floors big! I’m telling you, don’t go to IKEA without this girl.

We then rush back to the city to my sister’s place where we have a great home cooked meal with her and Future Fiance. My sister is the hostess with the most-est. It makes me laugh at how different we are…I left a house guest to fend for herself while I took off to Boston. Meanwhile my sister is treating us as though the Queen herself has come for a visit! I thinks she gets that from our mom…

At the same time it’s always surprising how alike we are too…both of us lacking the practical, systematic personality qualities–meaning we often get lost or lose something and together that can be a deadly combo.

Friday Night–off for drinks at a Martini bar then dancing. I realize how great it is to be in a city and think I could really get used to this…I feel a bit like Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex in the City. We get invited back to a Harvard Law School party but decline. We are not THAT much like the girls from the show. The best part was the great talks over this amazing goat-cheese & pear appetizer…the worst part was the couple making out in the booth beside us.

Saturday: breakfast and then onto the real goal of the weekend–ring shopping! But first it is essential that we get our nails done. We do and my “nail technician” is speaking Thai (?) to the girl beside her and laughing a lot while looking at me. It makes me feel pretty self-conscious…is it my cuticles?

Off into the heart of the city. I had NO idea how many jewelers could exist together in one place. I’m not talking the city of Boston, I mean on one small block on Park Street. We go into one building where floors 4-8 are inhabited with various jewelers! It is quite a day as none of us really know anything about rings…and my sister perhaps the least of us. Her job was to find a style she wanted, but with so many option out there it’s not as easy as it sounds. I did learn a lot though, but i’m not sure how helpful it was to her poor boyfriend.

After ring shopping, onto clothes shopping. We have only time to get through H & M which was probably good for all of our budgets! Back home to get all snazzed up for the evening. What were we planning to do, you ask? Well a friend of my sister & Future Fiance was celebrating as she had just defended her doctoral dissertation. Drinks and dancing (yes, again) at a club called The Felt which is, yes, quite pretentious, but fun nonetheless. We had a blast dancing and then home with sore feet. We left Sunday afternoon after a great breakfast and sad goodbyes just in time to be home for the superbowl…

*Let me take this opportunity to express my condolences to the Patriots, especially dear, handsome Tom Brady.

Monday–Woke up slightly disappointed to realize I was back to regular life again. No fancy martini bars and jewelers and nail technicians…back to work. But wait! Just when I thought things couldn’t get exciting around here something happened: I am fast asleep in my cozy bed on Monday night when I am abruptly awoken by a very very loud crashing sound. To be sure it scared the demons right out of me! I get out of bed to investigate. Was it a burglar? Did part of the building fall off? I learily creep through the various rooms of my apartment and don’t see anything…until…I reach the kitchen.

“O MY GOSH!!!!!” I screech. “O…MY…GOSH!”

The place is a disaster, glass everywhere, and I look up to see that the cupboard has actually FALLEN OFF THE WALL! My roomie wakes up and we survey the damage and Kristi comes running from upstairs to see what has happened. Together we manage to clean things up a bit and our shock turns to hysterical laughter. This is basically how the conversation went:

“Roomie, be careful of all the glass in your barefeet!” (roomie pulls broken glass from her foot and laughs)…
“This is crazy!” i say.
“I’m hungry” says my roommate. Roomie pulls peanut-butter from the fallen cupboard and starts eating… We all begin laughing very hard.
“wow, let’s watch a movie!!” says roomie
“um…it’s 4:00 in the morning.” I say.
“yeah, but we’re all up.” she says

We don’t, but I might as well have because i cannot sleep which makes Tuesday a very long and tiring.

BUT, don’t worry. the fun isn’t over. Because, in case you missed it, Tuesday was indeed SHROVE TUESDAY! (or mardi gras, or pancake tuesday, or whatever you want to call it…). I helped make hundreds of pancakes for lunch for the students (Kristi, who is in charge, was drowning in pancake orders so Roomie and I to the rescue!!) It turns out to be the most hilarious thing! I, who have dressed up that day, end up with pancake batter all over me (those who know me aren’t surprised)!

You know, the thing is that i always have so much fun with the girls. It’s definitely going to be a problem when I get married someday…sigh. Guys just don’t have as much fun…

The problem with Shrove Tuesday though, is that it comes before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent. I have decided to give up sugary goodies and swearing this year. I attend mass by myself on wednesday evening (i’m so pious…) and due to my over-tired state i am quite cranky. Some ladies sit behind and spend most of the time gossiping during the mass. I am judging them harshly in my head when suddenly my cell phone rings! yep, very very loudly too.

“SH*T…SH*T!!!!!!!!!!!!” I jump and grab my purse, frantically hitting it as I disturb the entire church trying to silence the phone. The ladies laugh behind me. “DAMN!” i mutter. Oh crap, i swore. So, not only did I not make it a single day not swearing, but i swore in church during the mass that is all about repentance.

I suck at being pious. I really really do.

So that’s my week so far. This weekend, onto the ECMAs (East Coast Music Awards)!!! There are so many bands playing all over Fredericton and it’s going to be a blast…i hope. And who knows what will happen…


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