A new record label based on the Shelburne is attracting artists from across the region.
Hal Bruland was one of the first musicians to sign-on with Maritimes Music, the label started by Jay Pilzer and his wife Rachel Yellin.
Bruland is best known for his blues-roots sound and is recognized across Canada and internationally as Manitoba Hal.
“One of the nice things about Nova Scotia is that there are musicians everywhere and from all walks of life,” says Bruland, who moved from the Prairies to Shelburne back in 2010.
It was during a show at the Osprey Arts Centre when he met Pilzer.
“He came to a show in Shelburne that I was putting on,” says Bruland. “We started a friendship. Jay was still living in Nashville at the time and I went down to his house when I was on tour and stayed with him for a couple of days. That’s sort of how it started.”
Pilzer is an academic historian, an author and musician and a merchant who has specialized in vintage guitars. He's taught at colleges across the United States, including in Nashville, before retiring.
Pilzer and Yellin lived seasonally in Shelburne until last June when they moved there permanently.
“Music has been part of my world view since I was 15 years old,” says Pilzer. “When we came to Shelburne I started reading a lot about the music in the Atlantic Provinces and saw a music culture that was rich and vibrant.”
Wanting to start a new project, Pilzer and Yellin felt that the time was ripe to finally take a shot at starting their own record label. It’s a niche operation, open to artists whose music expresses the Atlantic region.
“We’re not doing this with the idea that anyone is going to have a million selling record,” says Pilzer. “We’re doing it so that small numbers can keep us in the game as a company and allow the artist to make a living.”
“What’s happened in the music business now is that it’s so cheap to make and distribute music that there’s just tons of it around,” he says. “But how do you get found? How do you get seen?”
With the advent of more affordable recording technology and internet downloads, Maritimes Music takes a cooperative approach to their business model. The label provides a platform which supports all the artists who have signed on.
By bearing the cost of production and merchandise, Maritimes Music hopes to make sales at live events a much more profitable income-stream for the artists than it would be if the artists were fronting the costs themselves.
“I see it as a cross pollination,” says Pilzer. “If the artist is out there doing their promotion and we’re out there promoting the label, which is nothing more than the artists on it, then you amplify the voice of every artist.”
“Five voices are louder than one, and 10 voices are louder than five.”
Bruland is the first artist to sign on to the label’s Spotlight Series, which is geared specifically at touring artists. He says that Pilzer first approached him one year ago.
“They feel very strongly that the secret to success for artists these days is community and cooperation,” says Bruland, who is preparing to tour Australia and New Zealand this fall. “By getting all these people together and making it possible for them to produce records affordably, and then to share all the publicity together, then we can bring a lot more attention to all of these wonderful artists on the East Coast.”
Pilzer says that they hope to support five-to-six spotlight artists per year.
“We want people to hear it, and we want the artist to get paid for making it. If it’s on a CD, a thumb drive, vinyl or downloads, we don’t care,” he says.
“If somebody wants to put music out on the back of a yak, we’ll do it.”