Port Hawkesbury locals featured on Gordie Sampson Songcamp CD

A new compilation CD featuring the output of a Cabot Trail songwriting camp includes several tracks written and performed by Strait area composers.

Grand River native Barb Cameron, StFX music student Breagh MacKinnon, and former Antigonish mainstays Jenny MacDonald and Molly Thomason are all featured on The Gordie Sampson Songcamp Volume One, which includes 15 songs created at the annual young composers’ retreat hosted by Sampson over the past four summers.

Designed for songwriters aged 15-24, the camp began with six participants but has grown to quadruple that number since that time. For Cameron, who has attended every Sampson camp and will return for a fifth straight year in 2014, the experience was originally “intimidating” but had helped her grow as an artist since the camp’s debut in 2010.

“Now we’re kind of like this big cult – this group of songwriters who have this Songcamp thing in common, so we have all these memories together and all these songs we wrote together, and it almost feels like we’re this really tight-knit group that goes away each summer to do this secret songwriting thing,” Cameron told The Reporter.

“It’s kind of like a support group too, because everybody’s an artist on the side, so it’s nice to have a group of people who are always kind of rooting for you and going to your shows and showing support.”

Cameron’s two contributions to the compilation CD are “Last Night’s,” which sees her join forces with co-writers Nicole Curry and Elijah Wolhmuth, and “Sing To Me,” a collaboration with the track’s two vocalists, MacKinnon and Dylan Guthro. Each song was written during the first week of their respective camps, with “Last Night’s” providing a challenge for Cameron in the form of the two hip-hop artists working with her on the song.

“I was paired with them and I thought, ‘Oh, this should be interesting,’” Cameron recalled. “But we were basically like, ‘Let’s make it a full party song.’ So we kept the mood light to start the week off.”

While some of the compilation album’s tracks were recorded in a full studio setting for album releases, such as MacKinnon’s “Harbourtown” and the MacDonald co-write “Flip Flops,” which was eventually recorded by Slowcoaster, other cuts were laid down in a small studio Sampson set up at the camp’s Cabot Trail setting.

“It made us feel very relaxed,” Cameron beamed.

“You’re looking at Ingonish, and it’s beautiful, so you can’t feel not-relaxed. It was pretty easy-going, so it didn’t have that feeling of when you’re in a studio and money’s always on your mind and you’re worried about the hours that you’re wasting or how efficient you’re being. All of that’s put aside, so basically you’re just sitting there and enjoying your time and playing around.”

Port Hawkesbury Reporter