When I saw this book, my first reaction was, I want to read this. I’ve lived in Nova Scotia all my life and in the past 50 years, I’ve heard and seen a lot of acts. I don’t want to know too much about an artist, so I’m glad Mersereau didn’t go deeply into the personal lives of these Atlantic Canada icons. A glimpse was all I wanted, and that’s what I got.
Most of the artists mentioned in this book are known to me. Those like Stompin’ Tom Connors, Rita McNeil and Haywire were part of my growing years. With older than normal parents, I also heard a lot of Harry Hibbs, Wilf Carter and Hank Snow growing up.
Others, such as Matt Mays, Henry Burr and Buck 65 were names I’d never heard of. One singer who should have made the book but didn’t due to reasons given in the Introduction was Stan Rogers. All rules have exceptions, and Rogers was the exception here. My kids, in their early 20s, and their friends know what it means when they hear, “The year was 1778.” The Stan Rogers Folk Festival each year in Canso, Nova Scotia, indicates how much he was revered here. In fact, if one wasn’t told, one would assume Rogers was from the Maritimes. His sound blends in perfectly.
Mersereau provides a glimpse into the early years of each artist and how they started their career. Through various sources, including interviews, he gives us enough to understand the hardships, successes and sometimes tragedy of living such a lifestyle. Some of the artists offer up their wisdom. For those looking to write songs, Ron Hynes, said, “Write about home – Few are writing about home now.”
Music has influenced me my entire life. I’m not the exception. Young people crave those in the spotlight and many mimic them. Because of this, I think we need more artists like J. Hubert Francis, who said in an interview: We need more Indian heroes – we need more heroes in general, people of influence, positive influence, doing something our children can look up to and say, “Wow, I want to be like that”.
Who will enjoy this book? Anyone who wants to learn about artists on the East Coast, how they made it, the troubles they endured to find success and what became of them afterwards. It includes stars in many genres, from folk to rock, jazz to opera, so readers are bound to find someone they admire.
The one complaint I have is the presentation. The text is divided into two columns and aligned left, not justified. The size of the text fluctuates within a column. More attention given to the interior design would have made this book more pleasurable to read. Instead, it felt clunky.
Bob Mersereau is a music writer and broadcaster from Fredericton, N.B. He has worked in commercial radio and the CBC, as a producer, reporter and writer, specializing in East Coast music. He’s also written thousands of music reviews and articles for print and online, for national and local publications and websites. He’s the author of three previous books on Canadian music: The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007, Goose Lane Editions), The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010, Goose Lane Editions) and The History of Canadian Rock’n’Roll (2015, Backbeat). He’s the father of three children of various names, and a cat, Mr. Peaches.
- Publisher : SSP Publications (April 27 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1989347134
- ISBN-13 : 978-1989347133
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