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Music is a common bond when East meets West

Music is a common bond when East meets West

Spending a few days at East Coast Music Week in Sydney, Nova Scotia, is a rather hectic busman’s holiday, but it was a fantastic learning experience and one that will benefit HebCelt in the long run.

Sydney is a curious place. Originally built on steel and mining, which has now all gone of course, the business now is largely in a growing tech industry and tourism, the sea inlet location playing host to an increasing numbers of cruise liners.

Arriving late at night, we headed straight into the ECMW awards ceremony with all the main east coast music stars strutting their stuff and deservedly picking up honours. With the exception of Ashley McIsaac and Natalie McMaster, the artists were all new, which kind of set the course for the weekend. Well, that's what these things are all about isn't it, discovering new talent and widening your musical knowledge.

The days were long and full. Starting at 10a.m. with showcase slots – one-on-one pitches with a variety of agents, artists, etc,- followed by networking lunches, afternoon showcases, evening receptions, evening showcases and late night networking. Truly very, very busy, but really worthwhile.

There was a small contingent of Scots, agents, artists in the main, and thanks to Showcase Scotland and ECMW, RURA (who play HebCelt on 16 July), and Daimh were showcasing to a room full of international buyers from across Canada, the US and from as far afield as Australia and mainland Europe.

It was non-stop, energetic, colourful and friendly. The hospitality was exceptional and everyone from volunteers, staff, delegates and regular folks were extremely welcoming and always interested to know where you come from, usually accompanied with a greeting of 'awesome' on discovering.

In terms of promoting HebCelt and planning for the future, we got to meet a great many people who work throughout the industry and managed to catch up with some old pals. We made some great new contacts, which hopefully will help us import some wonderful artists to Lewis and to the festival in the coming years.

A word of thanks to Shelley and Yolande, who are the powerhouses behind this, and to all who welcomed us to the Maritimes. Hope it won't be so long before I get back there again.

A word to the wise though. If someone suggests that you try a Caesar, don't. Just don't.