On my way back from Shannon’s Irish Pub Friday night, I had spotted a Starbucks near the hotel. I took a mental note with the intention of going there for breakfast the next morning. However, on Saturday I discovered to my chagrin that it was closed. I ducked into the underground mall hoping to find something down there but the only thing open was a chiropractor’s office (which I assumed did not offer breakfast). Luckily by the time I returned to the hotel they were set up for the Western Canadian Music Awards Industry Brunch so I was able to load up a plate and get my coffee fix. I had to pop out of the brunch for a meeting with FACTOR president Duncan McKie where I received some useful information about their various programs. He also reassured me that my application for showcase funding towards Breakout West would probably be approved (which it was). I was able to catch the tail end of the brunch including two performances by the talented Sojourners. One of the awards at the brunch was presented by Chris Wynters, the Executive director of Alberta Music who was very dapper in a gray suit and tie. After he left the stage the MC made a crack about him being the only one in the room to own a tie. I had to laugh because before I left for the trip my grandpa had brought me a bag of ties and urged me to make a good impression. Actually, I think all the ties I own came from him too. Following the brunch I attended a touring workshop and had another round of five mentoring sessions. I felt much more prepared and composed this time around.
My second showcase arrived quickly as it was much earlier in the day at Maw’s Eatery. Maw’s is a funky joint with a rustic inspired but elegant decor. Ricardo the sound tech, and Joel the venue manager were totally on the ball and both really nice guys. Ricardo had even arranged a Beyerdynamic M160 Ribbon Microphone for me. That’s one I’ve been meaning to try as I’ve heard it’s a good mic for horns both live and in the studio. It sounded great during my set too. My trumpet cut through the mix cleanly without sounding shrill or honky. Maw’s had a much more intimate setting than Ozzy’s. There I had been blinded by the stage lights and had no idea what was going on off-stage. At Maw’s I could see that people were attentively listening while I played. Shortly after my set I was approached by Tracy from Shaw TV Winnipeg for an interview. After performing I often feel rather dazed so I was worried I would sound stupid and/or rambly in my interview, but I think I pulled it off (or they edited it) pretty well.
Hello Moth and his dancer Carisa Hendrix were next to perform that night. We had connected on Twitter after we were both nominated for Best Electronic Album and expressed a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s music so I was looking forward to meeting him. I had also heard people talking about their impressive performance the day before so I was excited to see it myself. They certainly did not disappoint! Hello Moth is able to craft a huge sound using his only his versatile voice, an effects/looping pedal and a tiny keyboard. Before one of his songs he explained that he had a music video created for Clouds in the Cloudless Sky using a procedurally generated visual program. This video was then mapped onto a pair of high tech light sticks that Carisa wielded to create a mesmerizing performance. As she spun the sticks faster, details of the animation would become clear.
Matt Paterschuk followed Hello Moth, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Steve Dawson join him on stage. Matt has an understated casual bearing on stage but captures your attention with the engaging stories in his songs. Plus Steve Dawson’s talents on the guitar and lap-steel are always a pleasure to hear. As I listened to his set I chatted with Hello Moth and Carisa and we hit if off quickly. I love meeting people with whom I have an instant rapport. We made a pact to get plastered if either one of us won. After Matt’s set I brought my gear back to the hotel and returned to Maw’s on foot so I could catch Whiskey Jane in the Beer Hall. I had met Kirby and Rafe earlier at the WCMA Brunch and the touring workshop and wanted to catch their performance that night. They’re a tight band whose experience playing together is immediately apparent and they’re fronted by a powerful vocalist.