Music N.B. Week celebrates homegrown music

Fans eager to show their support of New Brunswick musicians will have the chance to celebrate some of the best and brightest talent the province has to offer at Music New Brunswick Week, running this Thursday through Sunday at venues throughout Metro Moncton.

Although the province’s musical talent comprises an enormous component of the four-day festival, there are also informational conferences and clinics slated to take place to help educate both the experienced and the curious musician alike.

Jean Surette, Music New Brunswick’s executive director, is looking forward to the organization’s hard work finally coming to fruition.

The last Music New Brunswick Week took place in St. Andrews in 2007 and since that time, Jean went from being one of the organization’s directors to leading the Music New Brunswick charge.

A period of rebuilding and reevaluating the organization’s purpose and mission was needed, hence the more than three-year break between Music New Brunswick Week festivals.

Of the 24 showcase opportunities that were available for bands during the course of the week, Jean says that a total of 46 submissions were received.

“I would have loved to have included all 46 bands to be honest with you,” Jean says. “But one of the most common pieces of feedback we received from our last festival in St. Andrews was that people found there was too much going on at the same time. I remember walking into one room where showcases were taking place and there was hardly anyone there.

“Having too much happening at once can cause both fans and industry people having to choose between multiple acts they might want to see. So when it came to planning showcases this year, we were careful not to have much in the way of conflict happening.”

Jean says that the 2010 edition of Music New Brunswick Week is largely a rebuilding year for the organization and they didn’t wish to have too many eggs in their basket to help ensure the festival’s success this time around.

“The event that was held in St. Andrews in 2007 was huge. There were a lot of delegates and a lot of bands which, in theory, is great but I remember seeing the bill for everything once everything was wrapped up and had wondered if it was truly worth it. We have spent a couple of years paying that off,” he laughs.

“We really needed to put luck on our side and I truly feel that we have done the right thing with programming the bands and showcases.”

As wonderful as a showcase opportunity can be for musicians, expectations going into such an event are modest, as illustrated by Moncton’s own Mel Keith. Together with her band The Strombachs, Mel released a self-titled effort in the summer of 2009 and is hoping the showcase will allow her the opportunity to play for existing fans while also bringing a new legion of fans on board.

“I’m not necessarily expecting to get anything from the showcase but I am very excited to be playing,” Mel says. “Hopefully we have a good turnout to our showcase and are able to win over some new fans!

“It should be a great weekend and people should really try to get out and experience and discover the amazing talent that New Brunswick has to offer.”

In addition to the immense talent that will be gracing the stages of Metro Moncton venues such as The Empress Theatre, Plan B and The Paramount Lounge, there are various conferences starting on Friday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Centre at 1005 Main Street.

Among the slated events is a drum clinic hosted by Don Famularo, renowned for his drumming skills as well as his motivational speeches. There is also much practical advice available to bands through conferences dedicated to how to effectively market your band to fans and how to build your online identity, a crucial part in any band’s success today.

And if that isn’t quite enough, the weekend concludes with the first annual Prix MNB Awards on Sunday starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza. The awards serve to recognize the efforts and successes of both musicians and industry folks participating within the province’s music industry.

With 27 categories in total, the public is being asked to contribute their choices to the awards process.

From now through Thursday night at midnight, the public has the opportunity to vote on who gets to bring the hardware home.

With the exception of two fan choice awards which are 100 per cent determined by public vote, the public vote will account for 25 per cent of the total vote for the other 25 categories. The remainder of the votes in those 25 categories will be decided by Music New Brunswick members (50 per cent) and a jury vote (25 per cent).

Some of the artists successful in securing nominations in multiple award categories are Chris Colepaugh, Samantha Robichaud, Melanie Morgan, Sleepy Driver, The Divorcees and The Olympic Symphonium.

Article posted in October 5, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript