Taking the party to Gander

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MusicNL conference begins today

Music lovers will have the chance to get a little spiritual in Gander this weekend at MusicNL's annual conference and awards.
For the first time, the conference will feature a gospel concert as part of its regular music showcases.
Taking place at Gander Pentecostal Church Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the showcase will see The Feener Family, Amanda Squires, Mark House, Irene Bridger, David Chafe and Andrew Dale, Janet Cull and Kelly-Ann Evans and 10-year-old recording artist and East Coast Music Awards nominee Dante Hiscock take to the stage.
MusicNL decided to add the gospel showcase in response to the artists, who asked for one.
"We're happy to provide that," said MusicNL director Denis Parker. "I think the gospel genre has always been here (in Newfoundland and Labrador); it just hasn't been as commercial as it is these days. We've got the whole youth Christian movement, and I guess it's becoming more popular; it's a business."
Gospel artists have their own category in the MusicNL awards, with Chafe and Dale and Cull and Evans nominated for best gospel artist/group of the year, along with Dan Bursey, The Abbott Brothers, and Mark House.
The awards will be presented Sunday evening at a gala at the Gander Arts and Culture Centre, hosted by comedian Phillip Churchill.
Hey Rosetta!, The Idlers and Duane Andrews seem to be the stars of the local music scene for 2008, each having earned a handful of nominations.
Hey Rosetta! - which recently won a $25,000 prize for album of the year at the Verge Music Awards - are nominated for Molson pop/rock artist/group of the year, group of the year, entertainer of the year, and album of the year for "Into Your Lungs," while The Idlers are vying for group of the year, entertainer of the year, alternative artist/group of the year and Galaxie rising star/CBC new artist/group of the year.
Guitarist Andrews is nominated for entertainer of the year, male artist of the year, SOCAN songwriter of the year, coast jazz/blues group/artist of the year, and album of the year for "Raindrops."
The award winners were decided through a vote by MusicNL members.
Throughout the weekend, singers, songwriters, musicians and music industry professionals will take part in the conference, called "Music in the Air," gathering for workshops on topics like how to access provincial and national funding assistance, songwriting, drums, touring, and traditional music.
One of the highlights of the weekend - as it is every year - is the CBC/MusicNL songwriters' circle, to be held at Hotel Gander Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Conference delegates can attend the circle, as well as members of the public who purchase their ticket at the MusicNL registration desk at Hotel Gander today.
Ten singer/songwriters will perform original material and tell the stories behind their songs: Maureen Ennis, Mick Davis, Mark Bragg, Chris Kirby, Terry Penney, Maggie Meyer, Liz Solo, Don Brownrigg, Dan Bursey, and Mike MacDonald.
"It's always very popular, I think because it's an intimate setting … and I think people like to hear that personal touch, that intimate feeling, being with the songwriter telling them how they came to write that particular song," Parker said.
The conference wraps up with a performance by The Novaks at Legend's in the Irving West Hotel Sunday night.

Beginning Saturday, The Telegram brings reports from the MusicNL conference.tbm@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Mark House, Gander Pentecostal Church, CBC The Abbott Brothers Gander Arts Molson

Geographic location: Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador

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