When the nominee list for this year’s MusicNL awards was announced Wednesday, some local musicians say they were happily taken aback.
The Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the nominees for the 2011 MusicNL Awards, to be handed out during MusicNL week in St. John’s Oct. 24-30.
St. John’s-based Long Distance Runners — Chris Picco, Matt Hender, Dicky Strickland and Adam Cardwell — are tied with Hey Rosetta! for five nominations, but haven’t even released a full-length album yet. Their self-titled five-track EP was released last December.
“I was surprised, and I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of us,” said Cardwell, drummer for the band. “It’s great to know that other people in the association took the initiative to nominate us.
It’s the EP’s varied sound Cardwell credits for earning the band their nominations in the Group of the Year, Rising Star, Alternative, Album of the Year and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year categories, the latter for the tune “Black ’n’ Blue,” which has received heavy airplay and was featured on an episode of “Republic of Doyle.”
“There’s a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a bit poppy. It’s kind of psychedelic, and it has a couple of darker moments on it. The five songs are totally different, and I know this sounds kind of generic, but there really is something there for everyone,” he said.
Norris Arm native Chris Kirby said he, too, was pleasantly surprised by his three nominations, in the Male Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year and Jazz/Blues categories.
He’s not a stranger to accolades, having earned the 2009 MusicNL Jazz/Blues award and four East Coast Music Award nominations for his record “Vampire Hotel,” but wasn’t expecting his most recent CD, “Sounds Like Wednesday,” to have garnered enough attention, since it’s not available in stores.
“It’s just been off-stage sales only,” said Kirby, who’s spent a good part of the past year touring. It’s the Entertainer of the Year nomination he’s most excited about, he added.
Kirby’s up against Mark Bragg, Hey Rosetta!, Ron Hynes, Andrew James O’Brien and Shanneyganock for the award.
“That’s a big one, because I’ve worked really hard to solidify myself as an entertainer this year. I would feel on top of the world if I won that for sure, like anybody would, but to be there and to be considered contemporaries with those folks — all of them work their butts off and I have a deep respect for every one of them. I’m stoked, really I am.”
O’Brien, currently touring Ontario, agreed. He’s leading the list with six nominations: Male Artist of the Year, Rising Star, Entertainer of the Year, Pop/Rock Album and Album of the Year for “Songs for Searchers,” and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year for his song “We Were a Boat.”
“It makes me feel amazing to be in the same categories as all these other artists that I look up to and admire,” he said. “I’m very happy and very proud. It’s been a great year.”
Evry7th, a relatively new St. John’s-based band with Turkish, gypsy and rock ‘n’ roll influences, received two nominations: Rising Star and Jazz/Blues Album.
“(The nominations) were definitely a surprise,” said Eren Bayazitoglu, singer and flamenco-inspired guitarist. “When we released our debut EP last year we certainly had a plan in mind but we've been focused on what we do best which is making great music in the studio and on stage; so it’s a little bit of affirmation for us for sure. At the end of the day, we don’t look at it as a competition. We've got a great scene here and everyone is very supportive.”
Kim Stockwood, whose record “Back to the Water” spawned a CMT television program with the same name, based on her love of Newfoundland and Labrador, is vying for two MusicNL awards: Female Artist of the Year and Folk/Roots Album. Though she’s been nominated for Junos and East Coast Music Awards, these nominations are particularly exciting for her, she said.
“I think these nominations mean more to me than any I’ve ever gotten in my entire career,” she told The Telegram in an email. “It feels like I’m finally back home.”
2011 MusicNL week will see music industry professionals from around the province converge in St. John’s for workshops, showcases, a songwriters’ circle and other networking events, culminating in the awards gala at the Convention Centre Oct. 30.
The full list of nominees is available online at www.musicnl.ca.