Juno Weekend HighlightsPhotos by Alex Ramon
The Junos, for those of you who don’t know, is the Canadian version of the Grammy Awards. I’m not exactly sure how they do it down in the States, but up here in igloo land the Junos are much more than an award show. As mentioned in my previous article, there was the wonderful music festival known as Junofest that brought out wonderfully talented bands from around our fair country, and into smaller more intimate venues. But that’s not all folks! There were many other events that happened throughout the Juno weekend and I will try my best to sum everything up into a nice coherent article, so please bear with me because not everything had to do with music.
With any big event, there are the organizers who like to put on what the media type call a “press conference.” This wasn’t really an event per say, but more of a learning experience for me. I’ve been to press conferences before, but mostly for music festivals so this was fairly new. There were various speakers, such as Executive Producer John Brunton (who by the way also brought us the lovely “Jon Dore Television Show”), talented musician Dallas Green, and special mention to my man Russell Peters. He was gracious enough to come back and host the award show for a second year in a row, and kindly took some questions from the media. I, of course, took the leap and asked Russ what his thoughts were regarding press conferences. Well needless to say, his answer was quite entertaining and at one point he said “he didn’t care for the media.” Laughter ensued and he accidentally on purpose gave me some much needed exposure regarding my delightful publication. Aside from Junofest, that was by far the highlight of my weekend.
Aside from the press conference, I did manage to go to other events surrounding the Juno festivities. The Juno Cup, for example, was also a very enjoyable experience. It is essentially a “hockey game” (if you can call it that…) played between the former NHL-ers and the Rockers. The NHL line-up included the likes of Canuck greats (I can still hear it… “Gino! Gino! Gino!”), Bob Probert, and the great moustache man Lanny McDonald. And on the flip side, the Rockers had the boys from State of Shock, a few Barenaked Ladies, and MVP Kathleen Edwards. I was actually a little disappointed, because I was under the impression that Sarah McLachlan would be playing, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she was not able to hip check Cliff Ronning. All in all, this was a great concept and it was a shame the game wasn’t sold out. But considering all the other events happening that same night, I don’t blame people for actually wanting to go catch live music.
And this brings me to an event that actually had something to do with this publication. We were, after all, celebrating Canadian music and what better way to do that than with a nice intimate Songwriters’ Circle at The Centre of Performing Arts. It was hosted by none other than Canada’s finest singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman, and included the likes of Doc Walker, Jacob Hoggard, and Sarah Slean. The format was quite simple. Each musician had to play a song from their vast repertoire, all the while explaining the reasoning behind their tune. Hawksley started the set off with a song dedicated to all the pilots and bus drivers out there for not crashing. It was wonderful to watch him showcase his powerful, unique voice. Doc Walker played “Beautiful Life,” and at first I was a little pessimistic about listening to a country band, but I must say they did impress me with their wonderful harmonies, and they may have swayed my opinion on this genre. Jacob, from local band Hedly, played “Gunnin,” a track which he apparently wrote on seven shots of espresso. Personally I’m not a huge fan of Hedly, and it pains me to say this, but there’s no denying they have some catchy tunes. Each one of these musicians played with their guitars, so it was a nice change of pace when Sarah Slean hopped on the piano. She’s currently a student at U of T (so if any of you Torontonians are reading this, feel free to swarm around campus looking for her), but she still makes time to tour and grace her adoring fans with her beautiful and tranquil voice. She performed “Looking For Someone,” a tune about an epically bad relationship. I’m no psychiatrist, but I sure don’t mind listening to her vent if she puts everything in song. With all these talented musicians in one place, there’s no denying that the Juno Awards would be successful.
There was, of course, the Juno Award Ceremony that was broadcasted throughout the nation, but what people don’t know is that behind all of that glitz and glamour, some awards were actually handed out the night before. The Juno Gala, as they called it, saw all these great Canadian musicians gather into a nice fancy banquet hall, where they wined and dined (emphasis on the wine…), and all the while watching awards being handed out to their beloved peers. Some winners included the lovely and talented Serena Ryder, the day job holder DJ Brace, and of course the drugless Barenaked Ladies. It was interesting watch all these Canadian acts let loose towards us media folk, and when the wine starts going down the tube, you can expect crazy things to happen. Some things should be left unsaid, so I’ll just let you fill in the details.
All in all, the Juno weekend was filled with laughter, joy, and the occasional drink. It was probably so much fun because everything was happening right in my own backyard, but I have to admit, I was reluctant to write this article at first, because once I did, I would have to acknowledge that it was finally over. I met a lot of great people, and this experience was something I will never forget, that is until next year at St. John’s, Newfoundland.