Taking it to the Max at the ECMAs

Click to enlarge image ...By Laura Jean Grant - The Cape Breton Post

Max MacDonald wearing several hats in Corner Brook, N.L

Max MacDonald certainly won't be cold with all the hats he'll be wearing at the East Coast Music Association's awards, festival and conference weekend later this month in Corner Brook, N.L.

A well-known figure in the island's entertainment scene, MacDonald recently began a new job at Sydney-based Marcato Digital, developing web-based software for the music industry, and last fall put out a solo CD, Songs of Home, which has earned him his first two ECMA music award nominations.

"I'm going there wearing a whole bunch of hats. I mean I'm going there certainly to support the Team Cape Breton ECMA group to promote the ECMA here next year. I'm also going wearing my Marcato Digital hat to talk to a lot of the international delegates about what we're doing, and I'll have a little beanie, a little artist cap too," said MacDonald. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be really exciting."

MacDonald's album is nominated for male solo recording of the year along with Dave Carroll's Perfect Blue, David Myles's On The Line, Duane Andrews's Raindrops, fellow Cape Bretoner Gordie Sampson's For The Few And Far Between, and Something In Between from Matt Andersen. He's also up for folk recording of the year category against albums from David Myles, Meaghan Blanchard, Steven Bowers and Teresa Ennis.

"I was surprised. I thought it was pretty cool," MacDonald said of the nominations. "I guess it'll be fun to catch the reaction of some of my longtime peers in the industry. I've been getting some funny e-mails of people who are kinda tickled by it but, I don't know, it's all kinda new to me."

A former artist manager and founding member of Buddy & the Boys, the Rise & Follies of Cape Breton Island, the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and, most recently, the Celtic Colours International Festival, MacDonald received the ECMA industry builder award in 2000, and nine years later, is excited to see his name on the music award nominee list.

"I may the only person in the history of ECMA to get the industry builder award and then be nominated for a CD," he said with a laugh.

The CD responsible for it all, Songs of Home, features MacDonald singing the songs of J.P. Cormier, Leon Dubinsky, Bruce Guthro, Buddy MacDonald, Steve MacDougall, Ronnie MacEachern, Rita MacNeil, Matt Minglewood, Sam Moon, Jimmy Rankin, Gordie Sampson and Duncan Wells - who also all agreed to sing backup vocals on their respective tracks.

"I really enjoyed the process tremendously. I really enjoyed working with (producer) J.P. (Cormier), I really enjoyed being in the studio with all of those songwriters, and it really reminded me of why I got involved in music in the first place, and that was just the joy of collaborating with other artists and the excitement that comes from that," he said.

He's also received tremendous feedback on the project.

"The thing that I was hoping that I would hear, I am hearing and that is 'Gee whiz, I had forgotten how good those songs were' and that's really what I was hoping to get," said MacDonald. "We all have a tendency to file songs away ... so I was really happy to hear that people rediscovered a lot of these songs and that it made them happy."

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