By Marc DesRosiers
The music scene in Ottawa received a major boost over the past week as artists from across the country congregated to celebrate and pay tribute to artist from all music genres as part of the 41st JUNO awards.Not since 2003 has such a large influx of performers visited our fair city, taking over just about every club in the city, to the benefit of everyone that took the time to soak in the experience.
Not be be left out, the sports community joined the celebration and participated in events that brought both groups together. The JUNO Cup has become an annual tradition, providing a fun, candid and at times riotous hockey experience. While no penaties were awarded , the competition took a level of intensity that made for a great game for the fans in attendance. The JUNO Hoops basketball game brought players the the University of Ottawa men’s and women’s varsity teams to join celebrity players such as Keysha Freshh, Ray Robinson, former pro player and JUNO nominee JRDN, and Ottawa’s own Stuntman Stu. The winner in both of these games was MusiCounts, Canada’s national music education charity.
There were plenty of opportunities to interact with artists and JUNO nominees, with a series of concerts on Friday and Saturday night, playing at multiple venues and showcasing over 100 local, regional, and national acts. Lineups were long for some of the shows, especially the alt-rock showcase at Mavericks Friday night with Jim Cuddy playing Friday night. On Saturday, it was Mansion Nightclub’s turn to manage the large crowd outside waiting to hear and dance to the rythms produced by Deadmau5. Impropmtu performances between the various acts playing at the differnt venues and on the street of the Byward market was the theme for the weekend. This was also a great opportunity to hear new and upcoming artists as they shared their music to a new audience. I had the privilege to hear Ben Caplan play at the First Baptist Chruch on Saturday night, an experience that I will cherish for a long time.
The JUNO Fan Fare provided access to various artist, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Classified, Jully Black, Simple Plan, and electro-house producer Deadmau5 who took part in interviews, autograph sessions and live performances. Fans arrived early and keep coming, filing the lower level of St-Laurent to capacity.
Of course all these events were a lead up to the main event which took place in two parts; on Saturday the Convention Centre hosted the JUNO Gala and Award ceremony where 13 awards were granted including one for the new category of Metal/ Hard Music Album of the Year which was awarded to KEN Mode. The Sheepdogs were awarded the first two of three awards for New Group of the Year, and their album Learn and Burn locked up the Rock Album of the Year award. Local band MonkeyJunk picked up the award for best blues album.
Sunday provided the opportunity to hear various artist share songs and stories in an intimate setting at the Centrepointe Theater, leading up to the main event at Scotiabank Place. The big winners at the JUNOs were the Sheepdogs picking up their third award for Single of the Year, Feist (artist of the year, best adult-alternative album, best music DVD), and Michael Buble who took the award for album of the year. Congratulations also go out to Blue Rodeo who were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Not everyone on Sunday was there to see the winners judging by the odd Star Trek uniforms to be seen. Canadian icon William Shatner drew his own fans to the celebration. As the host of the event, he kept the evening flowing and provded comic relief with his own style of pointed and at times, self-deprecating humour.At 81 years of age, Captain Kirk is still on top of his game and shows no sign of slowing down. May you live long and prosper, Dear Sir…
The city of Ottawa was the biggest winner; with the influx of talent, their entourage, and fans from across the country, we benefited with access to great music, new opportunities for collaboration, and most of all, the creation of new friendships. The 2012 JUNOs were agreat success. Now it is time to start planning for the 42nd edition in Regina.