Friends of the Northumberland Strait benefiting from CD featuring Atlantic Canadian artists

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Dave Gunning says he “can’t wait to hear the whole thing.”

He is referring to a CD in which one of his songs are featured — as are songs by other ‘who’s whos’ of the Atlantic Canadian music scene — all of whom have donated a track. The project is a fundraiser for Friends of the Northumberland Strait in its quest to stop Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent pipeline into the Strait.

The CD project came about organically from a show where Gunning was performing. Attending the show was Jay Pilzer of Maritimes Music in Shelburne, who heard the Pictou County artist talk about the situation in this community with regard to Northern Pulp and the division it has created in the community and was inspired to help.

“You can’t hear Dave’s passion and not be moved,” Pilzer lauded. “He’s a remarkable man.”

Wanting to do what he could to help the cause, Pilzer jumped into action.

Gunning praised, “He reached out to me and my manager Shelley (Nordstrom) and said, ‘I want to put together a compilation CD in support of the cause in Pictou County’ as it relates to the mill.”

Pilzer had the means and ability to do that since he owns Maritimes Music, a record label and book publishing company in Shelburne with his wife, Rachel Yellin.

Gunning cannot give enough to praise to Maritimes Music. “They produced the whole thing, they paid for every aspect of it — including the manufacturing — and are donating all of it.”

Pilzer had a ‘wish list’ of performers, Gunning explained, and he reached out to the Lyons Brook resident to make connection with some of the artists with whom Gunning has a close, personal connection.

The result is a 14-track CD featuring songs from Atlantic Canadian artists including Bruce Guthro with Friends Like You; The East Pointers with Wintergreen; Matt Andersen with Coal Miner Blues; David Francey singing Mill Town; Hubert Francis with Mother Earth’s Warning; Mark Lang singing Pictou Landing; Catherine MacLellan with Out of Time; Naming the Twins singing One Storm from Home; Heather Rankin, Tale of the Lost Black Skinner; Garnet Rogers with Seeds of Hope; Terra Spencer with Boat Harbour; Emma Stevens et al singing My Unama’ki and Tian Wigmore singing Prairie Town.

Gunning’s call to action song Sing it Louder is the 11th track on the disc; he says it was inspired by the cause:

“There’s a feeling all over this land

That if we stand and rise together there’s a change within our power,

I am preaching to the choir

To sing it louder…”

Gunning said while he hasn’t heard all of the songs on the CD yet, those he has heard all tie in to the cause. “Bruce’s song is about appreciating friends and the ocean and Garnet’s is about solidarity. As much as this issue has divided some of the county it’s also brought a lot of people together,” Gunning said.

The artwork for the front and back of the CD comes from another well-known Pictou County artist of a different genre, photographer Gerry Farrell. On the back of the CD is a quote from Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul from Aug. 8, 2019: “We have a duty to protect our environment. We have to remember not only the past generations that have endured this devastation but we need to protect the future generations. This is the teachings of our people…”

The award-winning Gunning is part of a group, including his brother Matt, who has been studying and following the issue for approximately 10 years now. He supports the work of the Friends of the Northumberland Strait.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Gunning lauded about the project, “especially considering it’s coming from someone outside of this community who is supporting it.”

The CD is available for purchase at Stone Soup Café in Pictou, at McCulloch Centre in Pictou, Water Street Studio in Pictou, or by connecting with FONS member Krista Fulton at 902-754-6728. It is also available online at:

Gunning wrote I Wish I Was Wrong about the situation with the mill; it’s on his latest CD Up Against the Sky, which has been nominated for an astounding four Canadian Folk Music Awards. The CFMAs will take place April 3-4 in Charlottetown at the P.E.I. Convention Centre.