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ECMA item would have been right 20 years ago

I havent watched last nights East Coast Music Awards Gala yet. It didnt start until 11:30 pm, so I recorded the show and will watch later today. However, it sounds like it was a first-rate presentation.

Congrats to the ECMA organization, the musicians from Atlantic Canada, and the people of Corner Brook, for pulling it off in fine style.

I only observed one off note, which involved media coverage. Its not a major issue, and I probably wouldnt mention it all, except that it was broadcast nationally.

It was the item by Doug Greer, of CBC Corner Brook, which aired Sunday night on the CBC late-night newscast.

Again, I hesitate to even say this, because I like Doug Greer. He brings a human touch and a light touch, where warranted to his news reporting, and has won several awards for it. I just dont think he was the right person to cover this particular story.

The focus of Greers piece last night on the CBC national news was the changing nature of Newfoundland music; how we are moving away from traditional and into edgier musical genres. The item opened with a black and white clip of John White, singing Ise da By, which was used as contrast for how musical styles are changing.

Oh dear.

The problem? Thats ancient news. It is not, by any stretch, new information. Sure, our music is changing, as it always does. But it started changing more than 25 years ago, with the advent of the Wonderful Grand Band, who fused traditional music with contemporary rock, to the point that the rock stuff dominated their repertoire. (Before WGB, there was Figgy Duff, who also took a progressive, evolutionary approach to traditional music.) Then along came Great Big Sea, who were solidly rooted in traditional Newfoundland music, but whose biggest commercial hits were mostly contemporary rock numbers. Other notable trad-rock fusions included The Planks and The Fables.

And, superb as they are, Hey Rosetta! is not a new development on the rock scene. Theres been a succession of rock and pop groups that made a splash provincially and, in varying degrees, nationally. Think about TNT, 12 Gauge, Thomas Trio and the Red Albino, da Slyme, Gearbox, Bucket Truck, Gravel Pit Campers, Timber, Hardship Post, Joyful Noise, Drive, Billy and the Bruisers, Kim Stockwood, Damhnait Doyle, Shaye, Crush, and dozens more. In Greers backyard, theres The Catch (and anything Louis McDonald has been involved in) and Brian Byrne of I Mother Earth. Those are off the top of my head, and I know Ive left many out. Feel free to add more in the comments section below.

Any musician who has been part of this evolution, and any music lover who observed it, would have watched Greers item and said, Huh? Thats not news. That happened many years ago.

In Greers defence, I think this new sound was indeed a discovery for him. Yes, hes the senior reporter on the west coast, and does a highly professional job on all his stories with this one exception.

The solution? They should have sent a younger reporter to cover the event. I would have enjoyed seeing Zach Goudie on this story, or perhaps Natalie Kalata, CBCs rising star in Labrador.

For ECMA coverage that is a little more with it, check out the action at The Scopes ECMA blog, or this collection of articles from The Telegrams Tara Mullowney. CBC does have a good round-up as well, with plenty of related links.

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  • Peter
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    So glad to have moved on from the traitors-and-wingnuts comedy show.

    I cringe as well when someone out of the loop covers an entertainment event. But it can work both ways. Howmany young musicians have even heard of John White? Less and less every year, yet John was a major force in his day. It's safe to say John and others like Joan Morrissey were picotal figures in popular folk singing.
    Classical music fans also get a little annoyed when some young reporter walks in and asks why the bass player doesn't have an amplifier.
    I think Greer could have offered a refreshing change from the boosterism that usually goes along with arts coverage these days, but probably missed the opportunity.