Well, it’s early March and I think everybody is ready for winter to end. Good news is it’s going to heat up sooner than Environment Canada predicts… it’s time for East Coast Music Week 2014 (ECMW), and thanks to the PEI 2014 Sesquicentennial Celebrations (I can’t even say that word), it’s back in Charlottetown earlier than scheduled!
I want to get one thing out of the way right off the top, you often hear people say “Charlottetown is the best ECMA” and as somebody who’s in the music industry and was part of making two Charlottetown ECMWs happen… it really is the best! I’ve been to ECMW’s in Moncton, Fredericton, and Halifax, and I can tell you first-hand that Charlottetown can’t be matched in what it offers.
Why? Well, that’s a bit harder to explain. The fact that many of the top-notch venues are within an 8-block radius in the downtown core, meaning you can walk from show to show in as long as it takes two bands to change over their gear. The geographical benefit isn’t the only reason. It’s the atmosphere of Charlottetown. We have some of the best music fans, they go out and support shows of all levels, they party like rock stars and they make the ECMW experience top notch.
Now, down to the business of ECMW, taking in shows and seeing artists!
I’m often asked the question “What are you planning to see or do?” and the answer is simple, during ECMW I want to see as much as I can – new artists, up-and-coming artists, established artists and marquee acts. This is also one of the only times each year I get to see friends and associates, meaning this week can be a bit busy for me. I encourage you to take in as much as you are able to, push yourself outside your comfort zone a bit, stay out later than you planned, end up at a late night party, you never know who’s going to be there playing some tunes…
I set out on my mission for ECMW party dominance with a plan (I have found that you need it), which can be a bit intense as ECMW is five jam-packed days…
Here are some points that will help:
- Scout out the schedule on the ECMA website for the daily schedule – www.ecma.com/ecmw/2014/schedule
- Cross off the things you’re just not that into, but double check the list of artist at each show so you don’t miss anybody of interest (this is a common mistake).
- Grab a copy of The Buzz (Local Event Publication) & ECMW Gig Guide as soon as you can. They will give a set time breakdown, allowing you to create a map of where you need to be when…
- Download the ECMW iPhone / Android App. *also helpful for when you leave your copy of the Buzz at a bar…
- Ask strong music fans and industry folk, they can give you some insider perspective. Pat Deighan at Back Alley Music is one of the guys I recommend stopping in to see.
I was asked to come up with a must-see list. I struggle with this one as when I read through the list of showcasing artists, they’re all really great in their genres. I will say I am biased and feel that you all need to check out our amazing Island artists. We have everything from up-and-comers, like Jordan Cameron and Dylan Menzie to more established artists, as the North Lakes, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Meaghan Blanchard to Dennis Ellsworth, Catherine MacLellan and Tim Chaisson. Then, there’s my favourite PEI band Paper Lions, who are up for 6 well-deserved ECMA Awards this year.
When asked to write this blog I didn’t think I’d have anything to say, I think I’ve proven myself wrong, seems like I can’t shut up. I want to leave you with some points I’ve learned about how to make it through the weekend, other than pure determination and willpower.
Coffee is a must and frequent necessity of the weekend. We have two great coffee shops near the venues, Row 142 on Victoria Row & The Kettle Black on Water Street.
For early evening drinks and a bite to eat, I recommend a few places close to the venues – Water St Fish & Chips, Gahan House, and The Brickhouse, the newly renovated Globe (which is just open for the weekend), and Water’s Edge, the Delta’s new restaurant. Terre Rouge and Sims Corner offer cultured dinner options close to the action. If you’re feeling a little like getting out of the downtown, you must check out the PEI Brewing Company (they have a show that weekend too). They are making some amazing craft beer.
For a late-night bite to eat, stop into the Pizza & Poutine Co. on Kent Street for a slice, awesome poutine or a pulled pork sandwich. The Orange Lunchbox is also a great option for your late-night fix.
Breakfast can be a much needed and Casa Mia on Queen Street has you covered. The Factory also does a great breakfast on certain days, check them out.
I encourage everybody to come to Charlottetown and experience the best week of music on the East Coast, as it won’t be back in Charlottetown for 5 years… Also check out www.pei2014.ca for details on events this summer across PEI.
Mark Fisher is a project manager and event producer based out of Charlottetown. With more then 15 years in the industry, starting in the cycling, snowboard & ski world, It’s music (especially East Coast) that catches his focus these days, he is focused on building the best event experiences for fans and artist.