Island musicians moving up the maritime charts

Meaghan Blanchard spent many hours of her early teens in her room writing songs. Now, at age 20, she is one of the fastest rising stars in Prince Edward Island.

Both Blanchard and Racoon Bandit vocalist Fraser McCallum grew up in the small village of Hunter River and used their musical talents to work their way through the Maritime music scene.

Her start in music was when her mother started a church choir when her family moved to Hunter River, Blanchard said

“She thought, I have four kids, why not put them in a choir.”

Blanchard was 12 or 13 when she first picked up a guitar and started writing songs.

“They were very awful songs. Very angsty. Teen angst. Not even teen angst. Pre-teen angst, which is even worse than teen angst.”

Her first recording was done when she was 15.

“It was a demo of songs that I wrote up until that point. It’s funny. My brother still has the recording on his computer, my sisters have it, and my friends have passed it around to.”

Her music career really took off when she was driving home from basketball practice one night when she was 16, she said.

“It was at about the same time of the Canadian Idol fad. I heard this thing on Magic 93 about Maritime Idol. They said to call in and sing a song, so I called in and I got asked to come in for the final and I won it. Then I went up to CTV television and I was on TV and that was probably when people started realizing I was doing something with my music.”

Her career has taken off since.

“I have been playing at the ECMAs, I have been nominated and won some awards from Music PEI.”

In February 2009, she won Music PEI’s award for best female recording, best folk recording, best new artist, and songwriter of the year.

The award she is most proud of is her win for song writer of the year, Blanchard said.

“So I think it is all growing collectively as I grow.”

McCallum has a similar musical background. Growing up, he spent his time listening to his father’s 1960s vinyl records before getting his start in music, joining his high school band.

“It was around this time that I started writing songs. I started out doing open mics and that sort of thing.”

McCallum, now 23, eventually set up a band.

“We just released our first CD just a month ago.”

He enjoys performing at larger venues with his band, but he also enjoys solo performances at smaller venues like the Pen & Inkling Festival, held Sept. 20 in Charlottetown.

“It is a great way to write an individual acoustic type of song. You can have fun with it, mix things up a bit and you’re the only one who has to worry about it.

“So often an artist can play the same kind of music in front of the same kind of crowds. This exposes artists to a different audience and the audience to different types of music that they would not have seen in other venues. It is exposure for everybody.”

McCallum wears many hats. He is a graduate of Concordia University in Montreal. He decided to move back east to debunk the current trend.

“I’m also a writer as well. I write communications and promotional stuff.”

Racoon Bandit’s debut album, Campcraft, is available at Back Alley Music in Charlottetown. The band is online at McCallum occasionally performs standup comedy at The Guild.

Blanchard planned on travelling south in October with some of her fellow Island musicians to Nashville.

“Myself, John Connolly, Dennis Ellsworth, Dan Curry and a few others are heading down in a rented van and bringing our guitars and we’re going to spread the word about what we’re doing in P.E.I.  It should be fun. Taking a few days off school. Teachers always love that.”


Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: