Port Cities

HALIFAX: A Halifax-based folk/pop group with Cape Breton connections has been recognized with six Music Nova Scotia nominations.

Port Cities features StFX alumnus Breagh MacKinnon, Carleton Stone (who has relatives in the St. Peter’s area), and Dylan Guthro (son of musician Bruce Guthro). All three grew up in families with strong musical traditions, and started performing at young ages.

“Cape Breton is definitely a good place for music,” said MacKinnon, a graduate of the music program at StFX.

“Growing up I was always surrounded by music, my dad and my brothers played and we always were encouraged at house parties to sing a song and pick up a guitar…. so it was definitely a very musical environment and there was lots of inspiration.”

MacKinnon spent her time in Antigonish perfecting her craft while developing a taste for jazz that would have a lasting influence on her music. It was during this time that the three musicians met at a songwriters’ workshop run by another well-known Cape Breton artist, Gordie Sampson. They soon became friends, and started performing and writing music together so often that they decided to form a group.

“It kind of felt like we were already a band at that point,” said Stone, who plays acoustic guitar with the group in addition to singing, writing songs, and playing other instruments.

“We all come from pretty different musical backgrounds, but I think the reason why we work so well together is based on friendship and a love for a well-crafted song.”

Although they officially became a group just two-and-a-half years ago, Port Cities already has a long list of accomplishments. They released their self-titled debut album in February, and have made four visits to Germany and two to the UK. This fall, Port Cities is headed across Canada to perform with Nova Scotia musician David Myles for his album release tour. Even with a busy performance schedule, the group enjoys coming home to Cape Breton and the region continues to influence their careers.

“We do a lot of our creative stuff here in Cape Breton, and spend a lot of time here when we’re not on the road, so I think it’s a major factor in our music,” said Stone.

This will be the first nomination for Port Cities as a group. MacKinnon told The Reporter that she is especially pleased to be recognized by Music Nova Scotia.

“I think we’re all super honoured to have our first nomination come from Nova Scotia, because this is the place that has built us and supported us the most, and Music Nova Scotia is just such a great bit of infrastructure for emerging artists to have,” said MacKinnon.

“They support artists financially and with education and mentorship, so it’s a real honour to be nominated and we’re all very, very excited.”

On November 12, the group will return home to perform at the 30th Anniversary concert for Centre 200 in Sydney along with other well-known Cape Breton musicians including The Barra MacNeils and Còig. On November 17, the trio will return to Antigonish for a master class and performance as part of the StFX Visiting Artist Series.

For a full list of upcoming performances, visit: portcities.ca.