Awards honour Cape Bretoners

By Laura Jean Grant – The Cape Breton Post

FREDERICTON – The diversity of Cape Breton’s musical community was showcased Sunday night as a radio station, venue, event and industry professional took home East Coast Music Awards industry honours.

Michael ‘Sheppy’ Shepherd, the Celtic Colours International Festival, Glace Bay’s Savoy Theatre and Port Hawkesbury’s 101.5 The Hawk were all winners at the 2008 ECMA Industry Awards Show, held Sunday night at Fredericton’s Aitken Centre just prior to the music awards.

ecmaShepherd won Technician/Engineer of the Year and in accepting the award thanked Lakewind Sound Studios owners Fred Lavery and Gordie Sampson, the bands and artists he works with including Slowcoaster, who were on stage as the house band for the awards ceremony, and his family.

The Celtic Colours International Festival won Event of the Year with festival directors Max MacDonald and Joella Foulds on hand to accept the award.

In his remarks, MacDonald credited the East Coast Music Association for leading the way in proving the industry can host large scale, high profile events.

“I’d like to thank the ECMA. Celtic Colours is your child,” he said.

Foulds thanked the volunteers and sponsors who make the nine-day event, held each October in communities across Cape Breton, for making Celtic Colours possible each year.

The other island winners, Port Hawkesbury’s 101.5 The Hawk which was named Radio Station of the Year-Small Market, and the Savoy Theatre which won Venue of the Year, did not have representatives at the ceremony and the awards were accepted on their behalf by presenters.

Another award with an island connection was Broadcast of the Year which went to the East Coast Countdown, hosted and produced by Cape Breton’s Jimmie Inch, who accepted the award and paid tribute to the late Jack Bonaparte, who he co-founded the show with in 2004.

“This is for Jack, as always,” said Inch, while holding up the distinctive treble clef trophy.

It was a big year for Cape Breton on the industry awards side of things with 15 island venues, events or professionals picking up nominations.

The industry awards, hosted by well-known Cape Breton comedian Bette MacDonald, also honoured five Stompin’ Tom Connors Awards recipients including the late Aldun MacVicar, of Cape Breton.

MacVicar was born in Broughton, Cape Breton, in 1927. He moved from Broughton to Glace Bay while in his teens and it was there he met and married Lorna Whitney, sister of Gib Whitney, a very popular bandleader at that time. Through his wife’s talented family, Aldun began to hone his musical talents. Always a fan of Don Messer, he formed a group called The Pioneers in the late 40s and early 50s and nailed down a featured spot every Sunday evening on Robbie Robertson’s radio program. After the Pioneers, MacVicar formed the Royal Scotians, which eventually became The Acadians, a hugely popular band. MacVicar died in 1986.

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