MusicNL Week is expected to bring an array of provincial talent, international industry professionals and music connoisseurs to Twillingate.
With a variety of showcases, conferences and a highly-anticipated awards show, the five-day event will be the largest of its kind to ever greet the small island.
Deborah Bourden is a local tourism operator with several properties around Twillingate. She has 38 rooms and her Captain’s Pub venue all booked up for Music NL Week.
Bourden was involved in talks four years ago, when the idea of bringing Music NL to Twillingate was first being brainstormed. Now that the idea is on the verge of becoming reality, Bourden says it represents a pivotal moment for her home community.
“It’s definitely a coveted event to host, and this is the first time Twillingate will have hosted something of this magnitude,” Bourden said. “So, for us, it’s game on. We got to step up to the plate and pull this off.”
Twillingate has grown into one of the essential destinations in the province’s tourism industry. Now that it’s chosen as the setting for this year’s MusicNL Week, Bourden said it brings another milestone to the community’s growth.
“I’ve believed in bringing this to Twillingate from day one,” she said. “It’s been something I’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for the past four years, believing it was a possibility.
“Now that it will happen here and it’s building up to this, it’s pretty exciting.”
With a population of just over 2,000, a variety of buildings and businesses across the area are being utilized to meet the demand of the music-filled week. The Orange Lodge, Split Rock microbrewery, Masonic Lodge, the Lion’s Club, and the Auk Island Winery are just a few examples of the local venues involved.
Twillingate’s high school, J.M. Olds Collegiate, will host the annual awards show on Oct. 14.
Many tourism operations that have shut down for the season, like Twillingate Adventure Tours and Scot Lewis’ pencil art studio, plan to reopen during MusicNL Week.
Mike Sixonate, a local musician nominated for MusicNL’s Celtic/Traditional Artist of the Year award, hopes the event will not be a spark of encouragement for talent in the area.
“I really hope people take advantage of this opportunity and that it will grow the appreciation for local music,” said Sixonate. “Local music in Newfoundland is far beyond the scope of traditional Newfoundland music. We have some of the best rock-and-roll bands in Canada, and now [MusicNL] has added a rap category and there will be a hip hop showcase.
“And for the local budding musicians and closeted musicians, maybe this will be the event that pushes them to say ‘I can do this too’.”
Sixonate also sees this as a good opportunity for the venues around Twillingate to display themselves for the musicians and the many industry representatives coming from abroad.
“These musicians are going to see what we have to offer, and hopefully they will see this place as a future destination,” he said.
Over 40 volunteers have signed up for the big week, including many students from J.M. Olds music and drama program. Working out of her office in the Orange Lodge, events, showcases and volunteers co-ordinator Gillian Rouleau says she is elated student volunteers have the chance to get so closely involved with the event.
The Newfound Talent Contest is also expected to bring many young up and coming area musicians up to the stage.
Rouleau says the Town of Twillingate has been closely involved with helping MusicNL make local contacts, and is also sponsoring the Folk/Roots Artist of the Year award.
As the event fast approaches, Twillingate is expected to take a quick turn from its calm autumn and return to the traffic and activity of its bustling tourism-heavy summer.
With this in mind, Bourden said across the aboard, the excitement and anxieties are only growing. But in the end, she believes pulling the event off will be a source of pride and achievement for the town.
“I know that once the day comes, we’ll hit the ground running and I think the energy is going to be extraordinary,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t understand what this is really all about and they’ll be wowed; they’ll be impressed.
“The energy, the vibe, the amount of people and the great talent that’s going to be here – it’s something to be proud of.”
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