Fifth Gordie Sampson Songcamp gets underway this weekend

The Gordie Sampson Songcamp launched in 2010 with six young writers, two instructors, and a vision: to nurture emerging songwriters from across Nova Scotia, give them access to knowledge, and help them develop tools that will benefit their writing careers. Or as Nashville-based, Cape Breton native Sampson says, “Let’s get the best young songwriters in Nova Scotia and take them to the most inspiring place we can think of (Ingonish) and see what happens.”

For the past four summers, some of Nova Scotia’s most promising songwriters have been hand-picked to take part in the intensive series of co-writing sessions conducted by the Grammy Award-winning songwriter from Big Pond, along with leaders Steven MacDougall (Slowcoaster) and Carleton Stone. By all accounts, it has been a motivating experience, encouraging a growing sense of community, and an inspiring collection of songs. In 2013 it became apparent that these songs deserved to be shared.

The first Gordie Sampson Songcamp compilation was released in November 2013. The collection of 15 songs features 22 Nova Scotia songwriters, including Mo Kenney, Dylan Guthro, Carleton Stone, Dana Beeler, Willie Stratton, Breagh Mackinnon, Gordie Sampson, and Molly Thomason. Chosen from over 150 songs written during Songcamp from 2010-2013, they range in style from the fine folk of “Harbourtown” (Breagh Mackinnon, Gordie Sampson, Natalie Lynn) to the contemporary pop/rap of “All The Time In the World” (Carleton Stone, Elijah Wohlmuth, Kyle Mischiek) to the infectious reggae groove of “Flip Flops” (Brandon Johnson, Jenny MacDonald, Steven MacDougall).

What these songs share is that they are stepping stones in the careers of many fine young writers. But more than that, this collection of songs represents the realization of Sampson’s initial vision. What has happened since its introduction is that Songcamp participants have genuinely benefitted from the experience, coming into their own as songwriters and collaborators, winning awards, releasing numerous singles and albums, and continuing to build careers in music.

This weekend they gather again in Ingonish with Sampson, MacDougall, Stone, Mackinnon and Dylan Guthro for four days of good-times and pencil-grinding as the young writers discover the limits of their talents. This year’s crop of writers includes Songcamp veterans Barb Cameron, Dana Beeler, Dave Sampson, Elijah Wohlmuth, Jenny MacDonald, Kyle Mischiek, Laura Roy, Marc Boutilier, Mo Kenney, Molly Thomason, Natalie Lynn, Nicole Curry, Rankin MacInnis and Willie Stratton, and newcomer Chris James. To celebrate its 5th anniversary, Songcamp has invited three special guests to participate – songwriter Donovan Woods, and Chris Noxx and Corey Lerue on the production front.

Woods is a Juno-nominated Canadian songwriter, splitting his time between Canada and Nashville, and has had covers by country superstars like Tim McGraw as well as numerous Canadian artists. His music has been featured in major motion pictures, television shows, and commercials.

Noxx and Lerue will join longtime Songcamp producer, Mike Shepherd, to record songs that are written at Songcamp during the week. Noxx has just returned to Halifax to set up shop after spending time in LA where his numerous and notable collaborations and credits include “Fastlane”- Eminem & Royce Da 5 9 Ft Sly Jordan, co-writing credits for “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston, and production on Young Bucks’ “Anticipating”. Lerue is a Halifax-based audio engineer, producer, and composer. His work has been featured in The Source, HipHopDX, CBC, Exclaim!, and was also in the top 10 HipHop/Rap downloads on iTunes for his mixing/mastering efforts on Quake Matthews Corrado.

In addition to the traditional Gordie Sampson Songcamp Circle closing concert at Ceilidh Hall, Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, which is taking place on Thursday, July 17, Songcamp writers will also hit the road to play a show at the Louisbourg Playhouse on Friday, July 18. Both Songcamp Circles are hosted by Gordie Sampson and feature performances by this year’s Songcamp writers. Audiences can purchase the first edition Gordie Sampson Songcamp CD at the show and online at

by WGO Cape Breton’s GO and DO Guide