Anyone with friends or family working in the entertainment industry knows first-hand the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has not been too kind.
While some musical artists have been able to turn to the virtual stage and record labels to showcase their talent, many local bands have been put into a tailspin as large crowds at concerts and clubs have gone the way of the dinosaur since the world was plunged into COVID-19 crisis just over a year ago.
However, there’s some amazing news coming out of the Heritage City for Western Canada's very own ARCANA KINGS and lead singer John McCuaig of Nelson.
The ARCANA KINGS, consisting of Graham Templeman of Saskatoon, Regina’s Kevin Kyle, Allan Morrison of Saskatoon and Nelsonites James Picton and McCuaig, Johnny McCuaig, recently announced the signing of a contract with Brandy Records Canada, the Canadian Division of MC1 Nashville.
“With a combination of Rock, Pop & Punk and a hint of Bagpipes, the ARCANA KINGS bring their very own style of music,” Brandy Records Canada said during the announcement.
“We are excited to have them join our music family and know you will love their music as much as we do.”
To say McCuaig and his bandmates are “over the moon” with excitement would be an understatement considering the band, like many others in the music industry, has been parked on the side of the road for the past year.
"This new opportunity could not have come at a better time for us (ARCANA KINGS),” McCuaig told The Nelson Daily.
“It was something out of a movie how it happened."
To say that McCuaig and Company have been little gun shy would be a country mile from the truth.
McCuaig, along with Stacy his wife and children Jack and Elle, has seen his share of shysters in the music industry, especially in these days where we all want something to brighten our days.
McCuaig admits when he picked up the phone to call, he began feeling nervous and excited at the same time.
“In today’s music world opportunity does not always come to someone in my age bracket,” McCuaig laughs.
“But a good song is a good song. I strongly believe this, no matter where it comes from. So, there I was feeling like a kid and panicking on what to say. I just kept thinking, get it together, pretend you know what you are doing.”
McCuaig said for the past few years, he stopped for interviews in Mission with MNET radio during a festival tour to Abbotsford.
Lance Schilka, owner of MNET and McCuaig became friends and kept in touch discussing music during the time.
Schilka touched base with McCuaig in February with news he wanted to share.
“He told me that he'd had a conversation with Brandy Records out of Ontario recently and they were discussing new artists and what not,” McCuaig explained.
‘He asked them if they'd ever heard of ARCANA KINGS, described our music to them, and gave them a couple of our tunes to listen to.”
“Within two days I had a call from Lance telling me to get in touch of Brandy Records because they wanted to talk with me about ARCANA KINGS,” McCuaig added.
From left, ARCANA KINGS Graham Templeman (Saskatoon), Kevin Kyle (Regina), Johnny McCuaig (Nelson), Allan Morrison (Saskatoon), James Picton (Nelson).
McCuaig, still feeling overwhelmed, said from there on the conversation filled me with excitement.
“It’s been quite a ride with highs and lows in my musical career,” said McCuaig, whose band has played at the JUNO awards, Grey Cup, in Las Vegas and all over the world.
“A lot of "No's" or "Not right now" or "It's not what we are looking for at the moment".
“A person gets beat up after a while and you have periods of self-doubt.”
So now, after a few weeks, ARCANA KINGS are ready to put pen to paper with the signed Brandy Records and MC1 Nashville with Sony Music/The Orchard distribution deal.
“We will be mainly focusing on the U.S market for radio play, online distribution and pod casts,” McCuaig said.
“We already have a couple of guest spots on U.S. pod casts in the works starting in April.”
McCuaig said it’s definitely been a crazy time for everyone, including people working in the entertainment industry with has come to a complete halt.
One year ago, came cancellation news for all of the ARCANA KINGS shows due to COVID-19 as well as the uncertainty of the possible return to real life.
“Truth be told we still do not have a timeline when live shows will be returning,” McCuaig said.
“You really put things into perspective when you have been suddenly cut off from your way of life.”
“But I think my generation was taught some valuable lessons growing up about what it means to "keep grinding",’ he adds.
The future remains up in the air regarding the coronavirus.
Some countries are up to a third COVID-19 wave, while others are suggesting a fourth is on its way.
“I don't know what the future will bring just yet as this is all very new, but we are all very excited and will be working hard to keep our dream going,” McCuaig said.
“When the world heals and we are able to play live again, you better believe that a stop in my hometown for a show will be on the calendar.