Nova Scotia Music Week - Weekend overview

Nova Scotia Music Week - Yarmouth, NS
November 3 - 6, 2011
Overview & Photos by Dan Nightingale
NSMW 2011
And what a week(end) it was. With so many bands jam packed in to so little time it was a mad dash to see them all. After arriving late Friday night and settling some registration issue, the party was in full swing, aptly starting with Scientists of Sound at Dooley's.
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I hopped over the Ballroom to catch some acts I wouldn't normally see. First up was the Colin Grant Band, who delivered some fantastic traditional fiddling backed with a solid rock and roll rhythm section.
Colin Grant Band 02Colin Grant Band 01Colin Grant Band 03
To complete the 'venue triangle' I ran across the hotel and stopped in to Haley's Lounge to see Gianna Lauren,who vamped up her down home rock tunes with a tight if shy band and great vocal chops.
Gianna Lauren 01
Gianna Lauren 03
Then I came full circle back to Dooley's in order not to miss the fantastic spectacle that is Rich Aucoin. I'm sure most of the audience was very familiar with Rich's work, so they were quick to get into the mood and jump, dance, sing, and run under the parachute, as always.
Rich Aucoin  - NSMW, Yartmouth, 2011
Rich Aucoin 01
Rich Aucoin  - NSMW, Yartmouth, 2011
I stuck around long enough to catch some of Something Good, who were something (live hip hop) and pretty good. It wasn't really my style but the band pulled it off without breaking a sweat (except in the good way) and the dual frontmen worked their magic on the crowd.
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Something Good 01
Then it was reverse course, back to the Lounge, where I saw another band I wouldn't normally encounter, Laura Merrimen. Again not something I know much about, but the songs were tight and straight forward, and enjoyable for all.
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Laura Merrimen 01
Things took a 180 degree turn as Kuato filled in as headliners at the Lounge. I've seen these guys plenty of times, and they always put on an amazing show. Hopefully there were a few new comers in the crowd to catch these guys for the first time.
Kuato - NSMW, Yartmouth, 2011
Kuato - NSMW, Yartmouth, 2011
Kuato - NSMW, Yartmouth, 2011
After a quick rest and a few rounds of drinks in the hotel upstairs, it was time for the first late night show case. This evening's was hosted by Ben Caplan, a grand entertainer if there ever was one, dazzling the crowd with wit and songwriting.
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After his set, Ben introduced rising home town stars, Rain Over St. Ambrose. They delivered their massive, heart wrenching work to a packed ballroom and hopefully won over some new fans.
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Exhausted and without a hotel room for the night, I had no choice but to beat a hasty retreat out to the cold streets of Yarmouth; fortunately thanks to the kindness of the many good folks around me, I found a place to lay down and crash for the night and caught some much needed sleep.

The next day, up bright and early at the crack of noon, we wolfed down burgers for breakfast (you'd think when a musicians conference is in town, they'd extend the hours of brunch a little). Eventually, I was able to check into the hotel room that Music Nova Scotia had so kindly provided, and we earned some much needed down time, hanging out in the hot tub and generally relaxing.

At 5:00 I headed downstairs back to Haley's Lounge, to participate in the Blogger's Round Table. There was quite a crowd, larger than I expected, and before I knew it we were seated in front of all of them and critiquing a whole slew of bands from all across the musical map. I think the event went pretty well, and the bands got some (mostly) constructive criticism - all though I'd have to say, if we'd been given bio's for some of the bands, it probably would have skewed our feedback a little, all though mistaking a band of 16 year old's for a band of 30 years old has been, at least in some way, a compliment, even if we trashed talked the hypothetical 30 year band a little (whoops).

I would be remiss not to detail our supper adventure this evening: with most of the restaurants in town full or hosting shows, we managed to snag a large table at Peg's, which promised good, down home eats of the weird and wonderful variety. Among the culinary delights enjoyed by our crew was the show stopping grilled cheese burger - yes, an entire burger who's buns were full grilled cheese sandwiches. Wow. I had the relatively tame chicken stir fry, but topped it off with a deep fried Wonder bar. Words cannot describe.
After emerging stuffed to the gills from Peg's, we found our way back to the ballroom and stuck it out for the evening, catching some fantastic bands along the way, starting with the always fabulous and charming Jenn Grant.
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Jenn Grant 01
Jenn Grant 03
Next up In Flight Safety brought home their own shimmering branch of pop rock, with full emphasis on the rock (without ever losing site of the pop!).
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In Flight Safety 01
Eventual multi-award winner Carmen Townsend took pop rock and tilted it seriously to the heavy metal side of the spectrum. Never before have you heard a band that could simultaneously be enjoyed by the grungiest metal head and by your mom at the same time - no doubt the quality that allowed her to sweep this year's awards.
Carmen Townsend 04
Carmen Townsend 04Carmen Townsend 02
Carmen Townsend 01
Halifax's Glory Glory took the stage next and showed off their own perfect pop gems, flawlessly executed as usually. Seriously, I've never heard this band make a mistake. It's a little uncanny.
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Glory Glory 05Glory Glory 03
Glory Glory 01
Finally, Kestrel's took the stage to swamp the ballroom in reverb and glorious shoegaze inspired songs. Even after some technical difficulties, the band only seemed to get tighter and stronger and finished off with a huge energy and amazing tension that could only culminate in guitars flying across the stage.
Kestrels 02
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Though the showcase was over, the night was far from done, with another late night stage set to kick off with the Town Heroes, a two piece band who delivered classic rock riffage and a fairly full sound.
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After greatly impressing me with their song on the Blogger's Roundtable, I was excited to see Electric Underground City (great name), and they didn't disappoint, delivering their dark, electronic soundscapes backed up by some amazing drumming.
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Electric Underground City 02

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Next up was Three Sheet, a band I'd heard a lot about but never seen. They certainly lived up to their reputation - from the back of the room with the view blocked, one would swear that they were hearing a live drummer or a drum machine, not a single man beatboxing his brains out. Backed with funky bass and energetic MC's, the band, while not my personal style, certainly showed the reason for their growing popularity.
 Three Sheet 03
Three Sheet 02Three Sheet 04
Three Sheet 01
After two straight days, my camera battery died just as the final band was taking the stage. Determined to persevere, I took out the battery, shook it and hoped a little, put it back in, and managed to snap three photo's of Old Blood, who brought heavy rock back front and centre to Nova Scotia Music (week)
Old Blood 02
Old Blood 01
All in all it was an amazing weekend - huge thanks to Music Nova Scotia and to every one for food, drinks, and hanging out, and of course to all the bands. Music Week finally moves out of Yarmouth next year, so no more Peggy's, but I'm sure good times will be had.

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