It’s a difficult feat to see 23 shows in 3 days, but it’s even more difficult to take in all that encompasses Nova Scotia Music Week. The wealth of talent that we have to offer here in NS was on display in Truro over the weekend (November 2-5, 2017). My only complaint over the weekend was that there weren’t 6 of me, so I could have hit every stage over the few days spent in “The Hub of Nova Scotia.” I would love to go day to day and recap everything that I witnessed, but I don’t plan on putting out a novel anytime soon. So what we have are my favourite acts of the weekend.
*Get to know some of these acts better with episodes of the Basement Tapes Podcast. Links to follow their write ups.
We at the site have been major fans of Hello Delaware for a while now. Their first full length album “My Mistake” made it to all three of our Best of 2016 album lists, and Music Nova Scotia granted them “New Artist Recording of the Year” for the same album. On Thursday night at the legion in Truro, the gang of Dana Beeler, Aaron Green, Tori Cameron, and Eamonn Slatery took the stage to open for Wintersleep. Playing a myriad of new tracks, intermingled with favourites from their debut album, the crowd was entranced with their energy and rock-heavy, catchy tunes. Beeler, who used to spend most of the set behind a beautiful black hollow-bodied guitar, has recently stepped out from behind the axe, and has become a full-time band leader. She encompasses the prowess of Courtney Love (Hole) and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and has the attitude to coincide. She demands attention on the stage in the best way possible. Keep your eyes peeled for big things coming from Hello Delaware, as their new tunes are monster tracks, and they have big things on the horizon.
Fresh off her new full length album “The Details,” Mo relied heavily on new material for her set on Saturday night, at the Elm/Oak Ballroom of the Holiday Inn. A rock-fueled indie darling of an album translated incredibly to a live setting. Her set included heavier tunes like “On the Roof” and “If You’re Not Dead”, as well as her interludes she uses on the album to progress her story, like “Cat’s Not a Cake” and “The Details.” The crowd was near capacity in the ballroom, and there were very few who weren’t absolutely entranced by her captivating set. She surrounds herself with amazing musicians, and though she is still young, she seems immortal, and fronts them like a seasoned vet. Closing the set with an older gem “Deja Vu”, she had everyone in the crowd swaying, dancing, hooting, and hollering for more.
Grease Coast Rock and Roll. What a way to start off a Saturday afternoon after a late Friday night. APATG wasted no time to kick the day into overdrive with an energetic set at the Legion, opening up the Groundswell music stage. Everyone on stage had charisma and style as they pumped their way through their set. Andre Pettipas leads the band and doesn’t take one song off. Full of kicks, jumps, and running on stage, it’s tough to take your eyes off of him. Not to be outdone, his brother Travis on the bass keeps up with big bro. Shredding heavy bass lines and pounding his head around forces you to keep your toes tapping. Marcus Cosh behind the kit is tight and doesn’t miss a fill on fast and heavy beats. Newly added Leith Flemming-Smith (from every other band in Halifax) is endless entertainment and talent, tickling the keys and rocking constantly throughout the set. The recent winners of Q104’s Homegrown Project have big things coming in the new year with a new album in the works, so keep an eye out for them coming to a town near you!
I’m late to the well-deserved love that Hillsburn receives. After their release of “In The Battle Years,” it took me a while to give it a good, thorough listen. I absolutely adored it, to the point I was compelled to send them a private message on Instagram, apologizing to them for not being on board sooner and including them on my best albums of 2016. I finally got to see them at the Marigold Cultural Centre, opening for Ben Caplan on Friday night. I will promise you that if I see their name on a marquee, and I’m able to attend, there is no way I’m missing it. Their harmonies are legendary, their charisma on stage is second to none, and their raw talent on each instrument is absolutely insatiable. The power behind their voices filled the theatre and had everyone in attendance mesmerized. The only times you could take your eyes off the stage was when you were wiping tears from your eyes, from it being so moving. (I’m guessing. I definitely didn’t cry at any point in the show. I can’t believe you cried at the show. Wimp. *sniff*sniff*) They are powerhouses, and should be on everyone’s radar.
Good things come in small packages, that’s the saying, right? T’s set at the Elm/Oak Ballroom was a clinic on how to put on an entertaining rock show. Backed by the talents of, again, Aaron Green and Tori Cameron, and Jordan Bruleigh on kit, T hammered through his set, mainly focused on his Music Nova Scotia-nominated album “Sweet Baby”. His voice rang through the ballroom with immense intensity and passion. You can easily tell that this is what T is meant to do, and has the chops to back it up. Stepping out from behind the guitar for one track, back and forth he ventured throughout the stage and interacted with the audience, who were absolutely ALL IN on the set. With a new EP in the works, there’s no doubt he’ll be appearing in a town near you in the near future. Take a fresh pair of socks, because yours will be rocked off.
A band so nice, they made it twice. The Brood also graced my best of NSMW 2016 list, but I can’t help but give them another shout out. Supporting their recent release of “Transistor,” they mostly impressed the crowd with their new material. Individually, they may have been the most talented band to be witnessed all weekend, and when you put them together, it’s absolute magic. They are tough to categorize, but you can hear influences of Devo, Frank Zappa, and The B-52s. They have no problem going off script and jamming it out. They’re a band that is brave enough to toss in two instrumentals just to show off what they can do, and have a ball doing it. Seamus absolutely shreds the guitar effortlessly, Siobhan is a master of the ivories and manipulates them to the point of transcendence, Billy’s masterful bass playing sets grooves like no other, and Matt’s drumming punches a hole in your guts and makes you feel bad for the drum heads.
It’s not easy to be a rap artist who is sandwiched between Americana/Folk artist Jordan Musycysn and East Coast rock legends Tom Fun Orchestra, especially in the afternoon. Mitchell Bailey took that task, embraced the hardship, and flipped the room on its head. A room full of delegates, with the average age of 45, were on their feet, dancing, shouting, waving, and bobbing to the Cape Breton rapper. His likeable demeanour won the crowd over, and his mild standup routines between songs had the crowd swooning over his charm. I’m regretful that I couldn’t make it to his full set (hence why he’s honourable mention, as I’m sure this set didn’t do his whole act justice). After a set at SXSW last year, this guy is on the verge of blowing up. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next for this fellow Caper.
All in all it was a crazy weekend full of music of all kinds. This list doesn’t mean to throw shade at any acts I saw. There weren’t any acts I didn’t enjoy, and I love you all! I’m excited for the future of Nova Scotian Music, and can’t wait to see what is coming in the future.
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