East Coast Music Week festivities wrap up in Sydney

People who spent the weekend in Sydney, Cape Breton immersed in music took a moment to come up for air today after a five-day festival that brought some of the best performers in Atlantic Canada to Cape Breton.

ECMAs included variety of shows, ranging from folk to jazz, hip hop, rock and roots

CBC's Weekend Mornings host Bill Roach and producer Doug Barron appear on stage with Mike McKenna Jr. and Erin Costelo at the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney on Sunday morning. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

People who spent the weekend in Sydney immersed in music took a moment to come up for air today after a five-day festival brought some of the best performers in Atlantic Canada to Cape Breton.  

The final day of East Coast Music Week featured some performances and industry awards, which recognized many of the behind-the-scene contributions.

Sunday morning, musicians hoisted guitars and gear into waiting taxis. Many admitted to being somewhat weary after itineraries that had them hopping from venue to venue over the weekend. 

Performers and fans alike took in a variety of shows, ranging from folk to jazz, hip hop, rock and roots.

"It was awesome, we had a really good time," said Dawn Gale, manager of her daughter's group the Kendra Gale Band.

"The shuttles were awesome, they were really well organized. The venues were great — a little spread out, but it was awesome."  

Dawn Gale (right), is mom to Kendra (left) and manager to her band, which includes Warren Beatteay (centre). They hail from St. Andrews N.B. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Saturday and Sunday started with a live broadcast of CBC's Weekend Mornings at the Highland Arts Theatre. Days often ended with late-night hotel parties and impromptu jam sessions. 

Gale says the festival is a chance for up-and-coming musicians to build a profile and connect with new audiences. 

"I met a lot of people, other artists," she said. "A lot of good comments, sold some CDs. People enjoyed it." 

In addition to performances, it's a working weekend for many as they try to build connections in the industry.

The event featured a buyers showcase to link local musicians with booking agents, promoters and and industry representatives from the United States and Europe. 

A bump in business

Businesses across Sydney — from the local legion to the Mayflower Mall to coffee shops, pubs and bars — hosted official and unofficial events.   

Michelle Bianchini, general manager of Cambridge Suites had staff working around the clock. Her hotel is one of the many sold-out hotels in town. It's her third East Coast Music Week over 27 years. 

But even for people stuck at work, it wasn't a typical weekend.

"Again, it's a fun type of weekend, so you kind of forget about how hard you're working," she said. "It's kind of nice to see the staff kind of star-struck." 

The ECMA festivities will be capped off Sunday night with two songwriters' circles and a show to toast next year's host city, Saint John. 

With files from Anjuli Patil and Holly Conners