HALIFAX -- Several well-established rock acts will be facing off for album of the year in the East Coast Music Awards as the event reaches its 25th anniversary.

The rock band Wintersleep leads with six nominations, with its album Hello Hum in the running for recording of the year.

The band is also nominated in the video, group recording, songwriting, rock recording and fan's choice categories.

Tim D'Eon, a guitarist with Wintersleep, said his mother phoned him early Tuesday to deliver the news.

"It's pretty cool," he said in an interview from his Montreal apartment.

"We definitely weren't expecting to have the most nominations. ... It's pretty crazy and it's good to be recognized."

But he said he wasn't sure if the band would be able to make it back from a United Kingdom tour in time for the ceremony.

The band will face off in the rock recording category against past ECMA winners Joel Plaskett and Matt Mays, along with the Stanfields and the Long Distance Runners.

Wintersleep won the ECMA recording of the year for its album New Inheritors in 2011.

Matt Mays trails closely with five nominations and will be competing for votes with his album Coyote, his fifth since his self-titled debut.

Rose Cousins, Radio Radio, Rich Aucoin and Tim Chaisson each have four nominations for the Atlantic Canadian music prize.

The awards gala will cap a weeklong event that runs from March 6 to March 10 in Halifax.

This year's nominations also include some rising performers, such as roots-rock artist Christina Martin, who is nominated for pop recording of the year and songwriter of the year.

The singer-songwriter kicked off the nomination ceremony with her rendition of her song "Marina" in her high, bittersweet voice.

The awards are giving her a lift after the recent release of her album Sleeping with a Stranger, produced by her husband Dale Murray.

"It's been years of investing money and time, and taking a lot of risks and putting everything into it and hoping you sustain yourself as a musician," she said in an interview.

Ben Caplan, a folk artist who lives in Halifax, attended the nominations and performed his song Birds with Broken Wings.

He was nominated for his album, In the Time of the Great Remembering.

Caplan said the nominations continue to assist the region's younger performers as they launch careers.

"It can provide a wonderful boost," he said after his performance. "Here's hoping it will lead to more booking contracts in 2013 and beyond."