Anyone who knows us knows how much we like our music; all types, but especially country (and if there was any doubt, go back two entries and take a look at my post titled Happy 24th Anniversary, Mikey).
Anyone who knows us knows how much we love our boys (Matthew is 18, Marcus is 7) and will do what we can to make their dreams come true. So far, we have been able to grant two of Matthew’s dreams. Almost 3 years ago he had the chance to meet one of his biggest idols, Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. Then almost one year to the day later he got to meet the second person on his bucket list, Temple Grandin. Needless to say, when I saw the opportunity to sort-of make his last dream come true, I took it.
The Canadian Country Music Awards are coming to Halifax, NS this year. It’s the first time since 1982 that Nova Scotia has hosted Country Music Week and the buzz leading up to it has been electric! The entire province has benefited with various communities hosting 3 separate concerts in a Songwriter’s Series: The Road To Halifax. Since the first concert, held in June, the excitement has been building and we are now only 3 short weeks away from hosting hundreds of Canadian musicians, artists, songwriters and music industry personnel as they flock to our provincial capital.
Fortunately, we were able to attend the Songwriter’s Series that was held here in Cape Breton towards the end of July. Carolyn Dawn Johnson made her first visit to our area and was joined by our very own Bruce Guthro, Jordan Musycsyn and The Ryan Sisters. We had a great time and it was a treat for us to hear 3 of the 4 musicians for the first time. The talent we have on this Island is amazing!
But it was what happened afterwards that was the highlight of my night. As we were leaving the venue there was a young man walking towards me holding the almost life-size cutouts of the nominees for the Fan’s Choice Award. I commented to him that my boys would love it if I could bring Dean Brody home with me for them and his reply was “I don’t see why you can’t – here!” and handed Dean’s cutout to me. I was so excited!! As soon as I got home I put Dean down in our kitchen and snapped a picture which I immediately sent to Matthew who was out at the park. Needless to say he freaked thinking Dean was actually standing in our home. Unfortunately, I had to burst his bubble and tell him that wasn’t the case. But looking quickly, you’d think so, hey? Marcus certainly did a double-take the next morning when he walked down the stairs.
Dean was a wonderful guest the past few weeks. I was a little concerned at first that he might try to Bring Down The House, but I learned quickly that wouldn’t be the case, at all. He minded his manners, never interrupted, wasn’t disrespectful, certainly didn’t eat much and traveled quite lightly. In fact, we almost forgot he was around most of the time.
As much fun as it was knowing he was here (especially when his songs came on the radio and Marcus would go over and stand beside him to do karaoke), time was getting on and we knew he had to make his way back to his CCMA family. After all, there were lots of events coming up that he would be required to attend.
Before we could return our new friend we thought it would be nice to show him some true Cape Breton hospitality. He has been here before to play concerts, but we were sure he didn’t have the chance to see much of our community up close and personal, so we decided to take him on a sight-seeing tour. He was a great traveler, other than the need to extend our trunk by putting down the back seat in our Jetta. Oh well, at least he had the chance to stretch out and relax.
The time he spent at our home was mostly indoors so we started outside at Hilliard’s Happy Hideaway located on the Mira River. Naturally, Marcus was in charge (as much as we’d let him) and had to be in the first picture with “his buddy” Dean.
Our first stop had to be Two Rivers Wildlife Park where Matthew has been working and residing this summer. Unfortunately, Matt was busy bailing hay and wasn’t able to show our guest around, but he would have the chance to before Dean left, we promised. Here Dean is meeting Bud and Jenny and hanging out on the park’s grounds for a bit.
He was a great help in the booth and seemed to really enjoy his time with the horses. What better place for a country-guy to visit than a Wildlife Park?
Next we headed to Louisbourg. We were hoping to get him out on the rocks at the lighthouse but as we were driving out the fog fell in on top of us, as so often happens along the coast. Safety is always first! He did manage to get a good look at the lighthouse and was the only one of us who didn’t seem to mind the deafening sounds from the fog horn.
By this time it was getting dark so we headed for home. Mike decided it would be better to continue the tour the next day. Even though I had to work Mike, his mother, Marcus and Dean hit the road early and traveled over to the Northside, where Mike was born and raised until we were married 24 years ago. Mike thought Dean might appreciate a good game of golf so he stopped at Seaview Golf and Country Club but they soon had to scoop Dean up and put him back in the car as there was a lineup starting to grow behind him at the first hole.
Close by was Munro Park, a recreational facility in North Sydney that won $250,000 last week through Kraft Project Play. Dean was really excited to see the area and can’t wait for us to keep him posted on all the amazing upgrades they have coming.
No trip to North Sydney would be complete without checking out the ferry terminal at Marine Atlantic. North Sydney is the gateway to Newfoundland where you can almost always see the ferries coming and going. It’s something we never get tired of watching.
Mike couldn’t visit his hometown of Sydney Mines without sharing his life’s passion with Dean. A trip to the Firefighter’s Memorial Park was next on the list.
Marcus didn’t move too far away during this stop as he has years of knowledge to impart to Dean. Hey, when you live in a firefighting family like we do, it is what it is.
Finally, no trip to Sydney Mines would be complete without boasting about our successes. This is one of my favorite community signs in the area. And yes, I may be
a little… slightly…completely biased here as Bruce Guthro is my favorite-all-time performer! (Dean understands…we talked. He knows he’s a real close second.)
Next the tour headed west towards Bras d’Or. A stop at the infamous A&K Lick-A-Chick and Lick-A-Treat was a must.
Mike and Marcus agreed that Dean was starting to get a little frigidity from being in the car so long. They decided the next logical place to visit was Kelly’s Mountain. It was time to get this Mountain Man to a place where he could relax for a few minutes.
He loved seeing the Seal Island Bridge from the Bras d’Or look-off despite it not being a completely clear day. It truly is one of those beauties to behold when visiting Cape Breton.
Finally on this leg of the tour they dropped by Ross Ferry Marine Park to check in on all the fine folks there.
As they were heading for their next destination, Dean decided he needed to stretch his vocal cords a bit and what better place to do it than under the street sign that perfectly matched one of his songs: Four Wheel Drive.
The last stop for the day would be to go visit the guys Mike works with at The Cape Breton Regional Fire Service, Station 2. Dean was going to be inundated with firefighting information on this visit, that’s for sure!
The next day I was able to join in the fun. Dean, Mike and Marcus picked me up from work and off we went but not before we got a picture with him under the sign showing the greeting of Cape Breton that is on the side of our building. A hundred thousand welcomes is extended to all who visit.
Radio has always been a big part of our lives. Radio is where we met so many years ago. Naturally, we had to take Dean to visit the radio stations in the area that so graciously give his songs the air play needed to keep producing #1 Hits. First we stopped to say hi to Nikki at 103.5 The Eagle.
Bill and Rose were next on our list at 89.7 The Coast ~ which reminds me ~ I really have to try to get my name entered for the fantastic contest The Coast is running for The CCMA’s. What a win THAT would be!
No trip to Glace Bay would be complete without having Dean revisit The Savoy Theatre where many fans were able to see him perform not too many years ago. It may be time for him to return (hint, hint!)
And just before we leave Glace Bay, another must-see is The Miners Museum.
Time to head back to Sydney to visit a few more points of interest. First stop is Open Hearth Park located right in the heart of the city. Families can spend the entire day here and always have lots to do from walking trails to playgrounds for the kids.
My favorite stop of all was next. The Radio Building, the corner of Prince and Charlotte, CJCB Radio. The place where it all started for Tracey and Mike. This place is near and dear to our hearts and I was taken back in time as soon as I walked up those stairs. Marcus thought it was pretty neat to see where Mom and Dad worked and met all those years ago.
Cape Breton University is growing by the year. Dean stopped by there to say hello, as well.
For our last stop of the day we headed back to Two Rivers where Matthew was free to spend some time showing Dean around. He got to meet Maggie and Rose, a team of horses used for the wagon rides, and Matthew had his picture taken with one of his favorite performers ever! (Sorry bud, I wish it was in person but I worked with what I had…lol)
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and tomorrow it would be time to return Dean to his CCMA family so he’d be there for all the upcoming events. We weren’t finished showing him the sights between here and the road to Halifax quite yet. We were up and on the go early and although there were no dirt roads for this Dirt Road Scholar to travel on our way, we were able to take him to visit The Old Sandbar in East Bay. We tried our best to make him feel at home while he was here.
The ‘noisy bridge’, as we called it when we were kids, was our next stop. St. Peter’s Canal links the Atlantic Ocean to the Bras d’Or Lakes and it truly is a sight to watch the bridge open as many boats use this as their thoroughfare.
Every time I leave Cape Breton Island I get homesick, even if it is for just one day. I don’t know if I could ever truly explain what this place we call home does for me. As we head towards the Canso Causeway I reflect about how much Cape Breton really is The Home of Our Hearts.
A good friend of ours works at 98.9 XFM in Antigonish and graciously met us at the station on Saturday morning so we could have a quick visit. Dean was slightly tormented, but was a great sport about it. And now we have a picture of him with Da Lobster (for any of you who don’t know what this means, Mike refers to me as Da Lobster…his lobster. The reason why is explained in the link).
Dean was going to sing us a song before leaving, but we just couldn’t get the mic to work no matter what we did. Next time, he promised ;)
Barry showed us another really cool spot where Dean needed to get his picture taken. Pretty appropriate for him, too, I’d say.
Our last stop in Antigonish was, naturally, St. FX University. A week from now, this campus will be bustling as another school year is only days away.
Alas, the time to say “see ya later” had arrived. We were in Halifax before we knew it and our adventure was over. I’ve always told my boys “Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened” and I couldn’t be more happy that, as a family, we were able to have so much fun hosting Dean Brody and sharing some of our special spots with him while we were fortunate enough to have him visit.
Now just about everyone involved in Canadian Country Music is counting down to September 10-13. Halifax is definitely going to be the place to be and unless a miracle happens that gets us there (I soooooo wish we could make it happen) we’ll be watching for updates and will be glued to the TV on Sunday evening, the 13th, for the Awards Show. We congratulate all the nominees and look forward to hearing all about Country Music Week.
Of course, we’ll be rooting for Dean who is nominated for SIX awards this year. The Awards Show will be incredible, regardless. The caliber of talent our country music performers has is amazing, but we all have our favorites, right? ;)
For now, we’ll leave you where the big show will be taking place. Scotiabank Centre is where we dropped Dean, but I have had reports that he made it safely to his host family’s place in Halfax ;) Thanks, Stacey. We had a blast.
Until next time… #PumpUpTheCountry