Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre Outdoors, 606 Reeves St.
August 11, 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Mike McKenna Jr.
Singer-songwriter Mike McKenna Jr. has become a rising star on the Canadian music scene; with a raspy, soulful voice, his warm indie folk and Americana tones, and songs laden with captivating storytelling. Born in Glace Bay and raised along the Mira River, Mike’s songwriting aesthetic points heavily to his roots growing up in small-town industrial Cape Breton. Over the course of 3 studio albums he’s brought us the nostalgia of his home through carefully chosen narrative, poetry, protest, and true stories about life and death in Nova Scotia’s coastal, working-class communities.
Mike’s newest record At The Edge of the World (2020) continues to be met with incredible support both in Canada and internationally. In just over a year since its release, Mike’s sophomore album has received a long list of awards and nominations; WINNER of the Rising Star Recording of the Year by the 2021 East Coast Music Awards (along with nominations for Contemporary Roots Recording of the Year and Fan’s Choice Video of the Year), nominee for Contemporary Album of the Year by the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards, nominee for Americana/Bluegrass Recording of the Year by the Music Nova Scotia Awards, and nominee for 2020 Album of the Year by Blues and Roots Radio. It was also listed on the Bluegrass Situation’s ‘Class of 2020 Playlist, Absolute Best of this Year’s Roots Music Releases.’
Jesse is originally from Cape Breton where he grew up listening to his parents Dennis and Lori Cox play folk music. In 1980 his parents released an album “the welcome table” and toured coffee houses and arenas across the island. As a young boy Jesse got to see and meet acts like Matt Mingle-wood, Rita MacNeil, Buddy and the boys and Sam Moon.
Becoming obsessed with his father’s vast record collection Jesse started playing guitar and singing at the age of twelve and never looked back. In and out of bands through his teens and early twenties, he began to write songs and perform on his own. In 2006 he made it to CBC Rising Stars finale in Fredricton alongside David Myles and local bluesman Matchstick Mike. Later that year he also auditioned for Canadian Idol in honour of his wife’s mother Beverly Fraser (who had recently passed away in a terrible car crash) She was a huge fan of the show and had always said “someday Jesse will be on there”. So shortly before he was supposed to start the season lobster fishing in Cape Breton with his father, Jesse took off for Halifax where tryouts were being held. He went on to make it through to the celebrity judges and then earned his gold ticket for Toronto. In Toronto, Jesse made it to the final 24 contestants!
With the excitement and exposure from Idol Jesse toured around the Maritimes playing solo and also with friend singer/songwriter Pam Levi as well as teaming up with Kent county band ‘The Hooch’. In 2015 Jesse made NB Regional champion in the CBC Searchlight Competition earning national Radio play with his original song “Haul your Tears”
When he is not playing, performing or writing music Jesse works with First Nations youth at risk, helps out on commercial fishing boats, and dabbles in carpentry
Be sure to spend some time in town before and after the show – grab a bite to eat, visit the shops and stay for the night.
Tunes on the Town is a live music series in downtowns throughout Cape Breton Island during summer and fall 2022. The program is supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Rediscover Main Streets program.
Want to show off your Cape Breton adventure? Read through this blog to find your new favourite instagram hot spot this summer. Trust us, nothing says natural more than a nature photo.
My name is Riley Beaton and I am from Mabou, Cape Breton Island. I’ve always had a deep passion for adventure, the outdoors, and photography so getting to explore hidden gems on the Island that I love was very suiting and enjoyable. @rileybeaton2
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