East Coast Music Week rocks Halifax

The 25th annual Eastlink East Coast Music Week continues this weekend, filling Halifax with hundreds of musicians for five days of east coast entertainment. The festival, hosted by the East Coast Music Association (ECMA), recognizes Atlantic Canadian contributions to music.

By Bryn Karcha

Samantha Grace sings Hallelujah at the Opportunity Stage in the Delta Halifax. (Bryn Karcha photo)

Get ready to rock, Halifax!

The 25th annual Eastlink East Coast Music Week kicks off this weekend, filling Halifax with hundreds of east coast musicians for five days of events.

The festival, hosted by the East Coast Music Association (ECMA), recognizes Atlantic Canadian contributions to music. It also provides a stage for up-and-coming performers to strut their stuff in front of more than 150 international promoters, buyers, managers and theatre owners.

Rose Allen is the marketing and communications director for the ECMA.

“We’ve been pretty full force over the past few months getting ramped up. We have a staff, full time, of about nine and then we bring in contract staff for a few months leading up to it,” Allen said.

With more than 350 artists coming to Halifax to perform 48 shows in 18 venues this weekend, there’s been a lot to organize. The five day festival plays across the city in bars and concert halls, with a special event in Grand Parade square Thursday night with the Red Bull Tour Bus.

Samantha Gracie and her father, John Gracie perform at the Opportunity Stage at the Delta Halifax. (Bryn Karcha photo)

“It’s its (the tour bus) first time in Atlantic Canada, only second time in Canada. It’s really popular in the States and Europe during festivals. And it’s kind of like a transformer,” said Allen. “It goes from tour bus to outdoor concert stage in about 20 minutes, which is pretty awesome.”

Allen doesn’t think the chilly weather will deter Haligonians.

“Halifax is a hearty city, and its citizens will come out and dress for the event.”

In order to be a showcasing artist or nominated for an East Coast Music Award, artists need to be a member of the East Coast Music Association. Nominations are taken between August and October, and a team of more than 150 music industry professionals judge them based on albums, music videos, export readiness and other criteria.

But for those who may just be starting their musical career, there’s still a chance to be in the spotlight.

“Artists drop by to perform on our Opportunity Stage, to have interviews. Last year in Moncton, there were 60 artists who performed live during music week and we’re on track this year to have more, which is fantastic,” she said.

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Singer Samantha Gracie, talking about her family’s past experience with the ECMAs.

Samantha Gracie stopped by to perform at the stage in the Delta Halifax hotel lobby with her father, John Gracie, for a crowd of onlookers.

“We have a family history of loving the ECMAs, whether just listening or taking part in the events, so this year, now that I have a set list, I’ve started kind of spreading my wings. It was time to, you know, show up at the Opportunity Stage and sing some ditties,” Gracie said. “My dad is the first Male Artist of the Year for the ECMAs, so we have a family history of knowing about the ECMAs.”

The 22-year-old singer said she was looking forward to seeing the different concerts.

“You’re with like-minded people. It’s like a conference of music. It’s really fun.”