Straight from the heart

Cape Bre­ton­ers net 14 nom­i­na­tions at this year’s ECMAs


At least two Cape Bre­ton groups will tug on your heart­strings at this year’s East Coast Mu­sic Awards to be held in Saint John, New Brunswick, April 2630.

And they couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. The Blues Mer­chants were nom­i­nated in the Blues Record­ing cat­e­gory for their heart­felt trib­ute to a band­mate who died in a tragic car ac­ci­dent, while the Eska­soni Schools were nom­i­nated in the In­dige­nous Artist of the Year cat­e­gory for their pow­er­ful songs re­flect­ing their pride in their her­itage.

They join a small group of other tal­ented Cape Bre­ton­ers lucky enough to gar­ner a to­tal of 14 nom­i­na­tions this year out of a pos­si­ble 211.

“The Blues Mer­chants nom­i­na­tion in the ECMA Blues cat­e­gory is es­pe­cially sat­is­fy­ing be­cause the CD is the cul­mi­na­tion of a project that along the way saw us lose our gui­tarist Dave McKeough and his wife Donna in a tragic car ac­ci­dent,” said band mem­ber Fred Lav­ery shortly af­ter the nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced Tues­day in Saint John.

The McKeoughs were killed in a col­li­sion near Mil­lville in June, 2012 that also claimed the life of the driver of the other car. The band had just started work­ing on its CD when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred. Even­tu­ally, the group re­turned to the project and ended up call­ing the CD “Davis Street,” in hon­our of where the McKeoughs lived.

“The CD is ded­i­cated to them,” said Lav­ery. “There are many emo­tions in­volved to­day as we re­mem­ber the amaz­ing mu­si­cal con­tri­bu­tion Dave made on this record­ing and how proud he would be of the band.” Lav­ery’s stu­dio, Lakewind, was nom­i­nated yet again for stu­dio of the year and the stu­dio’s en­gi­neer, Mike (Sheppy) Shep­herd was also nom­i­nated for stu­dio en­gi­neer of the year.

The Eska­soni Schools nom­i­na­tion shows what hap­pens when lo­cal mu­si­cians work with stu­dents in school mu­sic pro­grams. The nom­i­na­tion is for a body of work that singer/song­writer An­gelo Spinaz­zola has done with stu­dents as well as the Gen­tle War­rior project led by school mu­sic teacher Carter Chiasson.


Kalolin John­son sings while Thunder Hear­ney dances dur­ing a per­for­mance of the “Gen­tle War­rior” at the Mem­ber­tou Trade and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. The song, pro­duced by the Eska­soni Schools, re­ceived an East Coast Mu­sic Award nom­i­na­tion in the In­dige­nous Artist of the Year cat­e­gory on Tues­day.

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