Matthew Shaw Reviews a Treasure Trove of East Coast Musical Gems
The East Coast Music Book of Fame Top 50
Bob Mersereau with Foreword by Joel Plaskett
This book is a collection of small biographies covering 50 influential East Coast artists, dating back from as early as the 1910s, with artists like Henry Burr, Wilf Carter and Don Messner, up to present-day artists like Joel Plaskett, Buck 65, Classified and Matt Mays. It is an amalgamation of research, interviewing the artists and talking to the representatives and historians of the artists themselves.
While there are gaps, this is a good overview of how the music scene has progressed with time. There are too many artists to write about in a single book.
As I sat down to read, I made a playlist with a few songs from each of the 50 artists covered in the book, combined with my own favourite East Coast artists, from the most well known to the about-to-be-discovered. A few examples from my own list are TWRP (Tupperware Remix Party), Vormir, Mackie, Good Dear Good, Roxy and The Underground Soul Sound, Partner and No, It’s Fine.
These acts may not fit the standard mold of what people think of when they think of East Coast music ( fiddles, Celtic sound, or lyrics specifically about the East Coast), but they certainly have contributed to the continuation of a successful music scene here, and I believe they will make an impact on our music as a whole. As I write this Vormir, Good Dear Good and No, It’s Fine just sold out a gig at Gus’ Pub in Halifax, a small venue, but a step toward bigger and better things.
While the biographies in this collection are short, they provided enough information to whet my appetite and provide an introduction. It’s left up to we readers to decide if we want to dig deeper.
The East Coast Music Book of Fame is a book I could finish in an as little as an hour. I certainly enjoyed my time with it. One of the biographies I found super interesting was about Don Messer. It detailed protests in 1969, when CBC-TV announced it was cancelling Don Messer’s Jubilee. The public rallied to get the government involved, just to get a television show back on the air. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but that level of public support is amazing.
An artist I would have loved to be included is TWRP, which originated in Halifax. Although they are more a contemporary act, they are incredibly energetic and positive in their live shows and in person as well. If you are into the image of a robot drummer, a cat with Chewbacca energy, a spaceman and a pylon cone, they are the band for you.
If you are a fan of East Coast music, The East Coast Music Book of Fame is an excellent read, and good inspiration to make the drive or take a bus to your local music venue.