Artists anxious as East Coast Music Awards week kicks off in Fredericton
FREDERICTON — Andy McLean recalls arriving in Saskatoon in March 2020 for the Juno Awards, only to have the event celebrating the Canadian music industry canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
McLean, CEO of the East Coast Music Awards, said he thought at the time the health crisis would be over in time for the ECMA gala, which was to take place in St. John’s, Newfoundland, six weeks later. .
“What did I know,” McLean said in an interview Tuesday. “We had to cancel 2020 at St. John’s and get it online as best we could. We improvised as we progressed that year.
McLean would be forced to improvise again in 2021 for the awards gala, which was to take place in Sydney, Nova Scotia. , unfortunately the COVID gods were not in our favor, so we had to postpone it for about six weeks and deliver a fully online version in 2021.”
This year, however, McLean says the show will go on — in person. Performers, crew members and music industry representatives flock to Fredericton eager to see live music and paying patrons for the 34th annual ECMA.
“There’s no substitute for getting the music together and getting it where it belonged, which is live on stage,” McLean said. “I’m thrilled for all musicians and the whole music industry.”
He said while many musicians have become internet savvy and maintained a connection with their fans, it’s the performance that puts food on the table. “The reality is that most musicians make their living playing live and touring,” he said.
McLean said there’s been a lot of excitement among artists and industry members, not just for the live shows, but also for the time they’ll be spending with friends and colleagues.
Shows and industry events take place from Wednesday to Sunday, during which approximately 500 artists will perform on 14 stages in New Brunswick’s capital. The ECMAs travel to the area every year and have not been in Fredericton for 14 years.
“There’s music for everyone,” McLean said. “I think this is the most diverse roster of genre acts we’ve ever had. I can pretty much tell how eclectic your musical tastes are, you’ll find something you like.
There is also a lot of business happening behind the scenes. About 150 buyers – talent bookers for festivals and concerts – were invited. McLean said they would generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business for East Coast artists.
The annual awards ceremony, hosted by Maestro Fresh Wes, will take place Thursday evening at the Aitken University Center in Fredericton on the University of New Brunswick campus and will be streamed live on ECMA.com.
On Sunday, the festival’s honorary prizes will be awarded during a lunch. Among this year’s recipients are Patsy Gallant, who will receive the Director’s Special Achievement Award, and Cutting Crew, who will receive the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award.
The calendar of events wraps up Sunday afternoon with the Songwriters’ Circle at the Fredericton Playhouse.
“It all comes down to the song,” McLean said. “A great song is a great song. They talk about the origins of the song, where it came from, what inspired them, and then they can perform it. It gives the audience a unique insight into the creative process and establishes that intimate connection with the artist.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 3, 2022.
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