Hi folks, I thought I’d write this newsletter a bit differently this time, to make things a little more personal - that would certainly convey to you how we felt treated out in New Brunswick - like we were visiting family...
First of all, we left Toronto via WESTJET airlines (these guys are great!) and arrived in Moncton on a beautiful sunny morning. We rented a little car and headed on a road trip down the Fundy Coastline - my wife had never been out east, so I wanted to show her the beautiful scenery and towns along the Atlantic coast. We were not disappointed!
[SOON: more photos from the trip and the CCMA’s!]
After visiting Hopewell Rocks and Cape Enrage, we drove on through Fundy National Park to St. John, and met with our hosts, the Mainvilles. Stephanie Mainville, an amazingly talented performer and super hostess, met us at the St. John airport with her husband Ken, and we headed off to Darling’s island where they live. These folks treated us like family - we became fast friends, and Stephanie and I practiced some music we planned on doing for the Gospel Show - we were really excited about playing at the Imperial Theatre - it is rated as one of Canada’s most beautiful restored theatres, and is an amazing place to play!
Friday we headed into the city to register and we watched a huge crowd of people stand in awe listening to Stephanie perform in the St. John city center mall... what a voice!! My wife and I headed up to the Convention Center, and watched my favorite part of the CCMA’s - the songwriters Café. We met Canadian Country rising star Jason Blaine - who is from the same hometown as me - we even went to the same High School!! Crazy!! Later in the evening, we joined a huge group of CCMA week performers and delegates on a harbor cruise... the fog was so thick my wife said it didn’t seem like we even left the harbor dock - you couldn’t tell anyways... we ate like kings and met some new friends, amazing singer/songwriter Jessica Rhaye, Steve Waylon, and our favorite band from last years CCMA’s, the Cruzeros! After the cruise, we headed to the new artist showcases at dockside, and I met some more folks from my hometown of Petawawa...
Saturday was a busy day. My wife hit the Fanfest show down at the harbor front, while Stephanie and I took in some of the seminars at the Convention Center. My wife met me for some more great songwriters café entertainment, where I met Charlie Major, another Ottawa valley native... Next it was off to O’Leary’s Pub to hear Bruce Guthro and J.P. Cormier perform and eat plenty of hot wings... ohh yeah!! Then it was back to Darlings Island for some much needed rest to get prepared for Sunday's show.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny - we headed off to the theatre early to meet with the Lapointes who were hosting the show, and to practice with Eli Barsi, Craig Young (most amazing guitar player I’ve ever heard) and Adam Gregory, one of Canada’s biggest country stars. We rehearsed our last song - Amazing Grace, a bluegrass version that I had re-written. The audience really liked it, and we got a standing ovation!! Boy, I was sure proud of that!!
Then we were off to the big Gala Dinner, where we enjoyed a great meal, and entertainment by George Canyon, Carolyn Dawn Johnston, and Bruce Guthro. After the dinner, we went to the most amazing performance ever - the all star musician and band awards, where George Canyon, the RoadHammers, Aaron Pritchett and many other superstars performed live and then joined the rest of us in the audience for refreshments and more music at an open stage... It was so cool to be there - like seeing 5 concerts in one, and having a front row seat! I met some more folks from Petawawa - Johnny Reid’s fiddle player was up for an award - Ben Rutz, who is also from my hometown. I had a great chat with him and his folks, who were down to take in some of the show. Man, what a small world we live in... those Valley folk sure like their country music!!
We had to head home early the next day due to a commitment I had with work - (oh well..) but we had an amazing time out east. I have to say that Maritimers are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met. We will definitely be back to visit our new friends, the Mainvilles, and some of the other great people we met in New Brunswick.
Thank you, St. John New Brunswick for your hospitality and good heartedness. Huge monstrous thanks to the Mainville family for being such great hosts, and for truly outstanding pancakes.
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