After what was a low-key night for the ECMAs, I set out on Friday in an attempt to see as much as I could. I was not disappointed. Simply put, when you’re sipping a gin and tonic in the Scotia Square mall at 5:30 a.m., you know you’ve had a good time.
The night started off quiet enough at the Casino Nova Scotia Schooner Room for the Roots Showcase. A friend and I catch the end of fiddle player Chrissy Crowley’s set and I got my requisite Cape Breton fill for the weekend. Next up was an upbeat set from New Brunswick boys the Divorcees, who proved why they’re garnering national attention with their blend of renegade country and humourous lyrics.
On my way in, I run into current Coast cover star Rose Cousins, checking out ECMA swag. She’s had a full day of shows and radio appearances and expresses she’s happy to have Saturday off so she can take in the other events.
We then made the quick pedway walk to the Delta Halifax to check out the beginning of the Urban Showcase on the eighth floor of the hotel. That’s one thing I love about this year’s ECMAs – one doesn’t have to do a lot of walking outside in the cold if they know the escalator, tunnel, and thoroughfare system that is the downtown pedway. And it’s a good thing, because it’s freezing tonight. Unfortunately for out-of-towners, this is a nightmare as it’s easy to get lost. We save no less than half-a-dozen people from wandering aimlessly throughout the night.
Next up, we hit the Music New Brunswick Showcase at Soho Kitchen so I can get some quotes for my freelance gig with the Telegraph Journal out of Saint John. The place is packed to capacity with our neighbours to the west and there seems to be an excitement in the air with the ECMAs taking place in Fredericton in 2008. Ryan Leblanc finishes off what could be considered a master class on the banjo. The guy wails and that’s saying a lot because it’s hard to wail on the banjo.
Bar number four: the Marquee for the Rock Showcase. We are there long enough to hear In-Flight Safety sound better than ever with a set that includes a majestic “Surround” and fellow Coast writer Matt Charlton rocking with the guys on acoustic guitar. Note to Matt: why are you wearing a t-shirt of the worst Blur album ever, Think Tank? There are so many other better albums to choose from. And I don’t want to hear it fits you just right. Note to self: give Matt my self-titled Blur album t-shirt.
We head back down to the Delta for an amazing set from Alpha Flight’s Ghettosocks and probably the best show of the ECMA weekend so far, Classified. But first the Trailer Park Boys make an appearance to present the Enfield native with the Best Hip-Hop Recording for Hitch-Hikin’ Music, which the Class crew celebrates by sparking up some weird smelling incense on stage. Not sure what it is, but the kids seem to like it.
While at the Classified show, I score a pass to the Amp Live after-party a floor down from a nice King’s student. But before we can hit that bash, we make the short walk to the Attic to see literally by far the hottest show of the weekend from the Jimmy Swift Band. By the end of the set, the guys look like they’ve taken a trip through a car wash in the back of a pick-up truck. At this point the partying is in full swing, with dozens of club-goers clearly feeling no pain. Whether this is helped by the near 100 percent humidity in the air, I’m not sure.
After we’re booted from the bar after closing time, we head back to the Delta (again!) for the Amp after-party. It feels as though everyone is here – the Halifamous and not-so-Halifamous, musicians from the biggest east coast bands, music industry folk, and everyone else in between. The Amp party bar is cleaned out within the hour and crowd of people head across the hall into a suite to search for more beverages. I’m not sure if this is someone’s room, but at this point, I really don’t care.
A group of friends make our way up to the eighth floor and the Sennheiser Lounge, where more early morning madness is going on. It’s as though people are bouncing off each other, saying hello along the way, regardless of whether they know each other. That guy you saw at that showcase on Thursday night? He’s your new best friend. That girl you saw at the Shoe Shop earlier? Well, here’s a hug and a beer.
Next thing I know, it’s 5:30 a.m. and Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar is about to get on the Lounge stage for a spontaneous jam session. But my body can’t hold up any more. I have to go home. I need sleep. I have two more frickin’ days of this. How will I do it? And the Palace at 6:00 a.m.? I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.
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