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MNB Festival puts local music in the spotlight

Fredericton is about to be bombarded with musical styles of all kinds.

The Music New Brunswick (MNB) Festival is coming to Fredericton for the very first time from Oct. 16 to 19. The festival is a way for New Brunswick musicians and industry professionals to come together and celebrate the work that comes out of this province.

“It’s a lot of work when you’re organizing something as big as this. It’s never been [in Fredericton], so a lot of these ideas are new and we’re sort of flying by the seat of our pants a bit,” said event organizer Graeme Walker.

With this being the first time the festival is hosted in Fredericton, Walker knows it will be a great addition to the city.

“Fredericton has all sorts of wonderful music festivals that happen, but this focuses on developing artists. So it’s exciting. This isn’t just an industry conference, but it’s open to the public. And there’s things happening everywhere downtown.”

During the weekend, a gala will be held celebrating the best in the province. This year, it will happen over brunch. Jean-Étienne Sheehy is nominated for the Music Industry Professional of the Year Award. He is a blogger, journalist and St. Thomas University student. He also agrees that Fredericton is the right city to host the festival.

“Fredericton has one of the best music scenes in the East Coast, but it’s not only because of the bands or the crowds. There’s many people working behind the scenes at creating a strong local music scene, like the organizers of Shivering Songs, the staff at CHSR or the members of the Shifty Bits collective,” he said.

“It’s really neat to be able to celebrate this and New Brunswick music in your own backyard, because it’s easy to feel secluded from the rest of the musical world sometimes in Fredericton.”

The gala, taking place at the Boyce Farmers Market on Oct. 19 at noon, will recognize everything from artists and bands to industry professionals and musical venues. Sheehy is still in shock, but is excited to be nominated.

“I’m definitely excited, but mostly honoured and grateful. My work involves writing about bands and criticizing their work, sometimes in a harsh way, so it’s an honour to have my work recognized by my peers,” he said.

“It’s mostly great to see some hard work recognized, even if at the end of the day no one would read or listen to my work if there wasn’t any great bands around.”

Some of the events to check out are the MNB and ECMA collaboration at the Market, taking place on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. Artists from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Maine will all come together on stage.

Jenn Grant and Tim Chaisson are just a few scheduled to perform. The Capital, Crowne Plaza and Charlotte Street Arts Centre will also be hosting shows during the four-day festival. Sheehy recommends you check out Force Fields, Joey Robin Haché, The Trick, Jon McKiel and Little You, Little Me.

Walker believes that events like this are important for the music industry, especially in our small province.

“It gives developing artists a chance to perform for people, especially bands who are just getting started. It gives them a chance to learn skills and meet delegates from Canada and the states,” he said.

“It also brings a sense of community for these musicians. They’re always out touring so its gets them together to share knowledge, ideas and experience and celebrate this community.”

Sheehy says it is more than just promoting the music produced here, it’s about breaking barriers for all musicians.

“The provincial scene is divided between regional and linguistic scenes so MNB Week gives everyone a chance to gather together and sort of catch up on what other bands have been up to,” he said.

“It’s also great because this type of professional event gives more legitimacy to New Brunswick music, since it recognizes it beyond the local and linguistic barriers.”

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