This year’s East Coast Music Awards being held in Saint John this week will hold a special significance for Moncton resident Jamie Bradley.
Late last month, Bradley’s late father Jim, a music industry pioneer who was not only a founding member of the East Coast Music Awards, but also had a remarkably successful three-decade-long tenure as a promotions and sales representative with Sony Music here in New Brunswick, was named the recipient of the Stompin’ Tom Award.
The award is presented to one deserving individual or group from each of the East Coast Music Association’s five regions – Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, mainland Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Cape Breton – as a way to honour those who have made a long-term contribution to the Atlantic Canadian music industry and helped pave the way for the artists of today.
Jamie Bradley says his family was absolutely thrilled when they discovered their father would be honoured.
“When we found out the news, everybody was just thrilled,”Jamie said.“My father had an unmistakable passion for all kinds of music, but especially enjoyed championing artists from the East Coast.”
Jim Bradley wasn’t just passionate about music it was his life. According to Jamie, his first job was working in his father’s record store, The Music Room, which had been located on Moncton’s St. George Street. After a short stint as a sales rep for Capitol Records, Jim became the Atlantic sales rep for Sony predecessor Columbia Records. It was a position he would hold until his retirement in 1994.
Daniel Robichaud, Sony’s current promotion manager in Atlantic Canada, first met Jim in 1988, and was mentored by him in the earliest stages of his career. He recalls Bradley’s passion for music was second to none.
“When I first joined Sony, Jim was, essentially, in the last few laps of his career with the company, but the fire was still burning bright. That’s not something terribly common with people that are on the verge of retirement,” Daniel recalled.
“To have someone spend his career working in the music business in Atlantic Canada was a rarity in the ‘60s and remains a rarity today. Having remained in the industry for more than 30 years is an impressive feat.”
In the course of conversation, both Jamie and Daniel recall how Jim played an integral part in P.E.I.’s Lennie Gallant being signed to Sony. The label released Gallant’s landmark album The Open Window in 1994.
“Dad was a lover of all music from the East Coast,” Jamie said. “He and Lennie connected on a personal level, so much so when it came time for my father’s retirement, his parting request of the company was that they sign Lennie. And they did.”
Although their working relationship may have been brief, Lennie recalls Jim being nothing less than a consummate professional during his time at the label, and well into Jim’s retirement.
“I worked with Jim when I was recording for Sony Music in the mid ‘90s,” Lennie said.
“His love for music was evident from the start, and it was refreshing to work with someone who was so personable within the behemoth of that giant corporation. Even after Jim and Sony parted ways, he would continue coming to my shows, right up until recently and his last days. That meant a great deal to me to see him out there, still showing friendship and support while dealing with his personal tribulations. The music industry can be hard and heartless by times, but guys like Jim gave artists a touch of soul within the business, which would remind us why we were there at all.
“He will be missed.”
While the East Coast Music Awards is now a five-day international gathering with a budget that surpasses the $1.5 million mark, its beginnings were considerably more humble.
Originally launched in the late ‘80s by Halifax promoter Rob Cohn, music manager Sheri Jones and a host of others, the original incarnation of the East Coast Music Awards was originally known as the Maritime Music Awards. It reportedly featured just five categories.
As the founders sought to expand the reach of the awards to include all Atlantic Canadian provinces, they sought board members that could serve to represent each province.
Sheri Jones, who currently serves as the manager for Joel Plaskett and David Myles among others, recalls Jim being the unanimous choice among the event’s founders to represent New Brunswick.
“Back then, there wasn’t a whole lot of label representation in the Mari-times, let alone New Brunswick, so while Jim might have been the obvious choice, we also felt confident he was the right choice.”
Sheri says that while things could occasionally get heated in the boardroom as the stakeholders involved pushed their respective agendas for the best way to move the East Coast Music Awards forward, she recalls Jim helping provide a calm perspective on more than one occasion.
“Not only did those who knew Jim have a tremendous amount of respect for him, he was always very thoughtful,” Sheri said.
“His approach was not only consistently inclusive – he looked out for the interests of bands from throughout the Atlantic provinces, not just New Brunswick – Jim was a solid, calming influence to have on the board. He was such a wonderful guy in so many different ways.”