Hafilax Predicts The ECMA Winners

With the 2015 ECMA award show right around the corner (April 8th – 12th), it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and predict who we feel that this year’s winners will be.  It should be noted that there is no science behind how we came up with our picks, nor do we have any inside track on who the winners will be.  This is a straight up “gut” feeling article.  You might also notice that there are a few categories missing from the list, but that has more to do our knowledge (or lack thereof) and tastes than it does with the artists from the missing categories.  With all of that being said, let’s proceed.

Album of The Year

  • In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist
  • Jimmy Rankin – Back Road Paradise
  • Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral
  • SoHo Ghetto – Thou or I or Both
  • The Olympic Symphonium – Chance to Fate

Winner – Rich Aucoin – Following up an album like We’re All Dying To Live would be a task for most musicians, but with a workhorse mentality, Aucoin was able to produce an energetic, enthusiastic, brilliant piece of art.  Ephemeral might not be the biggest selling album on the East Coast but it’s one of the best ten albums from 2014.

Song of The Year

  • Hey Rosetta! – “Kintsukuroi”
  • Jenn Grant – “Epic Sweep”
  • Jimmy Rankin – “Cool Car”
  • Mo Kenney – “Telephones”
  • Rich Aucoin – “Want to Believe”

Winner – “Kintsukuroi” – Like a surging storm growing as it finds its way across the country side, Hey Rosetta! have finally taken the leap from best up and coming act not to be missed to one of the best bands in the country.  There might be more elaborate and interesting songs on their latest album, Second Sight, but none that have the upbeat catchiness, that not only grabs your attention but is also able to hold onto it and leave you looking for more.

Aboriginal Recording of The Year

  • Angelo Spinazzola – First Nations Songwriting Sessions
  • Black & Grey – Black & Grey EP
  • BlueJean River – Eastbound
  • City Natives – Red City
  • The Gary Sappier Blues Band – Who Ya Foolin

Winner – Angelo Spinazzola – One of the most talented guitarists you’ll find on the East Coast, Spinazzola has been a mainstay in the music scene for years.  With that comes precision, perfection and style.  Not only a leader in the aboriginal music realm but also one that everyone can celebrate.

Blues Recording of The Year

  • Charlie A’Court – Come On Over
  • Kendra Gale Band – Carousel
  • The Hupman Brothers – Black River Blues

Winner – Charlie A’Court – A voice that is second to none, the natural ability to play guitar like most people breathe and an inviting personality both on and off the stage which makes for the perfect recipe for success.  A’Court is truly a diamond in the rough.

Children’s Recording of The Year

  • Angelo Spinazzola – First Nations Songwriting Sessions
  • Bruno Jacques Pelletier – Visualiser pour se réaliser
  • Down By The Docks – The Butterfly Bash and Other Treasures
  • Scotty and the Stars – Dancing Like a Dinosaur

Winner – Scotty and the Stars – Upbeat, educational and catchy songs litter the latest release from Scotty and the Stars.  With an award winning hit already under their belts, “Time To Get Up” and being chosen as a finalist for an international songwriting competition to kick off 2015, winning this award would simply be the icing on the cake.

Country Recording of The Year

  • Jimmy Rankin – Back Road Paradise
  • Makayla Lynn – Daydream
  • Mike Biggar – Feels Like Now
  • The Secrets – Break Even
  • Trinity Bradshaw – Open Skies

Winner – Jimmy Rankin – Solidifying himself as one of the great songwriters to come out of the East Coast within the past 20 years, it should be no surprise that Rankin takes home this award.  With a knack for telling a story, Back Road Paradise is a solid piece of work that has found a home both in our hearts and across the airwaves.  

Electronic Recording of The Year

  • Joshua Van Tassel – Dance Music: Songs for Slow Motion
  • Neon Dreams – Blinders (ft. Laura Roy)
  • Rozalind MacPhail – Head First
  • Snug – Time & Space
  • Vogue Dots – Toska

Winner – Neon Dreams – Every so often a group comes along and instantly becomes the buzz band. Sometimes it’s a rock group, sometimes country but in 2014 it was an electronica band from Halifax NS.  Blending in a nice mix of old school DJ’ing with live instruments and vocals, Neon Dreams spent 2014 crafting their art while proving that they could be more than just a buzz band.

Folk Recording of The Year

  • Catherine MacLellan – The Raven’s Sun
  • Cedric Vieno – Maquiller l’ane
  • Ian Sherwood – Everywhere to Go
  • Les Hay Babies – Mon Homesick Heart
  • The Once – Departures

Winner – Les Hay Babies – Three women who can all sing, play and entertain.  In a world where songwriting and harmonies are so hard to find, these lovely ladies from New Brunswick make it sound easy and pure.  Not only do they win for Folk Recording of The Year but in one fell swoop they also lock up Francophone Recording of The Year.

Francophone Recording of The Year

  • Blou – 20 Temps
  • Cedric Vieno – Maquiller l’ane
  • Francelle Maria – La p’tite Acadienne
  • Les Hay Babies – Mon Homesick Heart
  • Les Hotesses d’Hilaire – Party de ruisseau

Winner – Les Hay Babies – See above

Group Recording of The Year

  • Radio Radio – Ej Feel Zoo
  • Sherman Downey and The Ambiguous Case – The Sun In Your Eyes
  • The Once – Departures
  • The Town Heroes – Sunday Movies
  • The Trews – The Trews

Winner – The Town Heroes – Hot off a tour that found this duo playing shows in downtown Halifax and Reykjavik, Iceland and a slew of well earned awards at the Music Nova Scotia Awards in November, it’s safe to say that The Town Heroes have spent the past year honing their skills, building their fan base and rep, leading directly to this moment.

Pop Recording of The Year

  • Jenn Grant – Clairvoyant
  • Meaghan Smith – Have A Heart
  • Mo Kenney – In My Dreams
  • Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral
  • SoHo Ghetto – Thou or I or Both

Winner – Mo Kenney – This young, up and coming songstress has quietly become the next big thing on the East Coast of Canada.  With the help of local hero, Joel Plaskett, Kenney has put together a tight knit album which has its folky roots dug deep to allow a more experimental sound to branch outwards.

Producer of The Year

  • Chris Kirby
  • Corey LeRue
  • Dale Murray
  • Daniel Ledwell
  • Joel Plaskett

Winner – Daniel Ledwell – How about this.  I’ll name some artists and albums Mr. Ledwell has produced and that will be enough.  Fortunate Ones – The Bliss, Jenn Grant – Compostela, SoHo Ghetto – Thou Or I Or Both, Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral.  Yup….nuff said.

R&B/Soul Recording of The Year

  • BAYTOWN – Island
  • Chelsea Amber – Introducing Chelsea Amber
  • Kirsten Olivia – T.H.A.N (The Here and Now)

Winner – Kirsten Olivia – The texture and tone of Kirsten Olivia’s voice make this an easy listen, not to mention there’s an edge/confidence here that seemed to be lacking from her fellow nominees. T.H.A.N. is a solid R&B effort with solid hip-hop flourishes woven in; there’s a lot going on here which makes for a captivating listen.

Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of The Year

  • Cam Smith – Cannon
  • City Natives – Red City
  • Jay Mayne – F*kit
  • Radio Radio – Ej Feel Zoo
  • Thrillah Kane – Thrillville 2

Winner – City Natives – While they may miss out on being our pick to win Aboriginal Recording of the Year, this should be the one this hip-hop collective easily  walks away with, and it’s not even close. While the category itself is loaded with talent, some of the emcees in the category crafted solid albums that feel a bit too emulative of other acts; it was the fiery flow of  City Natives which resonated strongly with this listener.  Their ability to draw from the vintage hip-hop sound, coupled with a powerful quartet of emcees (even if their aliases are somewhat generic) makes for a very distinct experience which sounds unlike a lot of what the local hip-hop scene has been producing.   The excitement generated by City Natives is similar to the same excitement I had when I heard local emcees Quake and Ambition for the first time.  That is why Red City is our lock for Rap/Hip Hop recording of the year. 

Rising Star Recording of The Year

  • Kim Harris – Only The Mighty
  • Makayla Lynn – Daydream
  • RocketRocketShip – Shake If Off!
  • Steve Maloney (and the Wandering Kind)
  • Willie Stratton – Deserter

Winner – Willie Stratton – Where once laid an acoustic songwriter now stands a electrified whirlwind of an artist.  To see Willie Stratton perform live is to experience a beautiful chaos that somehow makes complete sense.  With nothing but the open road ahead of him, there is no telling how high of a ceiling Stratton truly has.

Rock Recording of The Year

  • Adam Baldwin – Adam Baldwin
  • In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist
  • Molly Thomason – Columbus Field
  • The Meds – South America
  • The Trews – The Trews

Winner – Adam Baldwin – Breaking away from local rocker Matt Mayes’ side for a brief moment, allowed for one of the best recordings to come from the East Coast since Another Chord To Another.  With a Springsteen type sound and a solid workman’s type stage presence, Baldwin came out of the gates swinging for the fences but ended up hitting this one out of the stadium.

Roots/Traditional Group Recording of The Year

  • Cassie and Maggie – Sterling Road
  • Coig – Five
  • Duane Andrews and Craig Young – Charlie’s Boogie
  • Tomato/Tomato – So It Goes
  • The Modern Grass – City Ghosts

Winner – The Modern Grass – Finger picking their way across their latest album, The Modern Grass have crafted an old school Kentucky blue grass gem laced with banjo driven hooks and beautiful, soulful ballads.

Solo Recording of The Year

  • Adam Baldwin – Adam Baldwin
  • Carleton Stone – Draws Blood
  • Ian Sherwood – Everywhere To Go
  • Jimmy Rankin – Back Road Paradise
  • Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral

Winner – Adam Baldwin – For all of the same reasons why he wins the Rock Recording of The Year. Plain and simple Baldwin rocks.

Songwriter of The Year

  • Catherine MacLellan – “The Raven’s Sun”
  • Hey Rosetta! – “Kintsukuroi”
  • Meaghan Smith – “Have A Hear”
  • Molly Thomason  – “Buttons”
  • Ria Mae – “Clothes Off”

Winner – Hey Rosetta! “Kintsukuroi” – Once a group gains the momentum that Hey Rosetta! are currently experiencing, it’s tough for anyone to try and keep pace.  With that being said lead man Tim Baker has spent his entire musical existence, putting to paper some of the most beautiful lyrics around.

Fans’ Choice Entertainer of The Year

  • Ben Caplan
  • David Myles
  • Hey Rosetta!
  • Jenn Grant
  • Mo Kenney
  • Paper Lions
  • Ria Mae
  • Rich Aucoin
  • The Once
  • The Town Heroes
  • The Trews

Winner – The Town Heroes – This category is all about the relationships built between the band and the fans.  While everyone here is more than worthy of winning each award they might be nominated for, The Town Heroes seem to have that extra online presence that could very easily push them over the top and win this award.  There’s also the little fact that they kick major ass on stage!

Fans’ Choice Video of The Year

  • Don Brownrigg – “Sweet Dream Sleeper”
  • Jimmy Rankin – “Cool Car”
  • Paper Lions – “Philadelphia”
  • Radio Radio – “Ej Feel Zoo”
  • Rich Aucoin – “Want To Believe”
  • Steve Maloney (and the Wandering Kind) – “Morning Break”
  • The Stanfields – “Hard Miles”
  • The Town Heroes – “Holdin’ Up Grants”
  • The Trews – “What’s Fair is Fair”

Winner – Rich Aucoin – To experience a live Rich Aucoin show is like no other.  Visually it’s energetic, interactive and all around more fun than you’ll ever expect to have at a live show.  His onstage presence is levels above his peers, yet he carries himself with a quiet, approachable confidence.  Where others have failed, Aucoin has found a way to take all that is amazing about his live show and have that translated into fantastic music videos.  The question is,  what can’t he do?

Event of The Year

  • Celtic Colours International Festival
  • Halifax Jazz Festival
  • Halifax Pop Explosion
  • Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival

Winner – Halifax Pop Explosion – Against Me!, Ghostface Killa, Danny Brown, Lights, Tokyo Police, Mounties and Rich Aucoin are just a few of the artists that graced the many stages of this years HPX.  With venues that sprawl from the West side of the city to the East, HPX has spent the past 20 years establishing itself as one of the festivals that musicians need to play here on the East Coast and there doesn’t seem to be any reason why it would slow down now.

Media Outlet of The Year

  • CKDU 88.1FM
  • CTV Morning Live
  • Jeff’s Musical Car
  • Radio 96.5 FM
  • The Morning News on Global

Winner – Jeff’s Musical Car – With 130 videos up on his web site, Jeff Boudreau has been a mainstay within the musical spectrum thanks to the back seat of his car.  Not only are we able to hear unique renditions of the artists songs, but we also get the opportunity to see those artists interviewed in a small, yet comfortable place.  With his car, Boudreau has been able to create something completely different from everyone else.

Media Person of The Year

  • Adria Young
  • Heidi Petracek
  • Jeff’s Musical Car
  • Stephen Cooke
  • Tom Power

Winner – Tom Power – The voice you love to wake up with each and every morning, Tom Power has been (and if he isn’t he should be) one of the few bright spots within the CBC organization for the past six years.  Spinning everything from rock to pop to folk, Powers ability to play the right music at the right time has become a staple of his weekday morning radio show.  Although now based in Toronto, there is little question when it comes to the fact that his heart is still here on the East Coast.

Music Merchant of The Year

  • Acadian Embassy
  • Diminished Fifth Records
  • Fred’s Records
  • Sound of Pop (Glenn McMullin)
  • Spincount Publicity & Promotions

Winner – Spincount Publicity & Promotions – With a lineup that includes Joel Plaskett, Mo Kenney, Matt Anderson, The Stanfields, The Town Heroes and ventures that took this company from Halifax to New York to Kansas, it seems like a safe bet that the hard work put in by founder, Kimberly Sinclair, will be earned with this years award.

Studio of The Year

  • Lakewind Sound Studios
  • New Scotland Yard Studio
  • Soundpark Studios
  • The Blue Room
  • The Old Confidence Lodge

Winner – New Scotland Yard Studio – The Meds, Mo Kenney, Gloryhound, Old Man Luedecke and Joel Plaskett have all recorded within the walls of this Dartmouth based studio.  With a massive space and enough gear to create whatever types of sound you’re looking for, New Scotland Yard Studio will find itself among the “must record” spaces until it chooses not to.

Studio Engineer of The Year

  • Erien Eady-Ward
  • Jamie Foulds
  • Jon Matthews
  • Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd
  • Scott Hammond

Winner – Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd – If you come to the East Coast to record, Mike Shepherd is as good as anyone.  With an ear for a hook and a like-ability that allows for a warm and creative atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Mike’s awards shelf continues to grow.

Venue of The Year

  • Confederation Centre of the Arts
  • St. Mary’s Church
  • The Carleton Music Bar & Grill
  • The Ship Pub
  • Union Street Cafe

Winner – The Carleton Music Bar & Grill – Nothing says welcome like a cold brew, a great meal and a constant flux of musicians coming and going each and every night.  With a great staff, a wonderful new playlist spinning before and in between live sets and an owner who puts an emphasis on “live” music, The Carleton is a must see for any music enthusiast passing through, or living in Halifax.

Video of The Year

  • Jay Mayne – “Poundcake”
  • Meaghan Smith – “Have a Heart”
  • Monomyth – “Patsy”
  • Radio Radio – “Ej Feel Zoo”
  • The Thymes – “Lobotomy”

Winner – Meaghan Smith “Have a Heart” – An emotional ride between what could be and and what is.  Meaghans pop sensibilities not only shine musically on this track but find themselves sprinkled throughout the entire video.  From beginning to end, the journey taken is one we’ve all seen before, but modernized for the 21st century.  Beautifully heartbreaking.


About the author


Jeff is one-fourth of the group that makes up HAFILAX. His usual ramblings can be read right here on the website. If reading isn't your thing, he also hosts the Basement Tapes podcast.