I find the nominations of the 2013 Juno Awards a great cross section of Canadian music from last year.
This year Leonard Cohen is nominated for three Junos including Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (which he shares with his co songwriter/producer Patrick Leonard), and the People’s Choice. His son, Adam Cohen, is nominated for the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for his release “Like a Man”, also produced by Patrick Leonard.
Maestro is back 25 years after winning the very first Juno for Hip Hop in 1990, nominated for Rap Record of the Year. He is uniquely Canadian in his selection of music with Classified. His latest “Black Tuxedo” samples Blue Rodeo’s “Try”, one of the best soulful countries ever. Maestro has also sampled The Guess Who “These Eyes” and Gowan’s “Criminal Mind”. You could not be anymore Canadian.
The other rap nominees are producer Rich Kidd, Classified, and JD Era from the Wu Tang’s Canadian Label. Back also is former Swollen Member’s Mad Child. The glaring omission is that of Drake’s absence in this category.
Last Saturday, the Jazz Performance and Education Centre (JPEC) kicked off their 2013 season with their opening night gala “Tapestry, a Musical Landscape” at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The evening featured Joe Sealy’s “Africville Stories”, “A Salute to Motown”, and a celebration of Black History Month.
Aficville Stories, from the words and music of Joe Sealy’s Juno Award wining “Afrciville Suite”, was presented by Jackie Richardson on vocals and narration, Joe Sealy (piano), Paul Novotny (bass), Mark Kelso (drums) and John Johnson (sax). The set opened with the thunderous, gospel-inspired, “Deep Down Inside”. Most musicians would be content to finish their night at the energy level of this opening number. But, Africville Stories is no ordinary set of music, and Jackie Richardson begins where most vocalists hit their peaks.
Alberta trio 100 Mile House were in Toronto for the Annual Folk Alliance International Conference held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. Husband and wife team of native Albertan Denise McKay and transplanted Londoner Peter Stone and multi instrumentalist Scott Zubot did numerous showcases, live interviews and “meet and greets”. I caught up with them at the very intimate Saturday afternoon showcase in the Alberta Room at the hotel. Just a happy coincidence the name of the room happened to be the same as their home province.
There was no P.A , no stage and a packed room of very attentive music lovers, a tough gig at the best of times. With Stone on guitar, Zubot on fiddle and mandolin and McKay playing drums on a suitcase, 100 Mile House showed why they are one of top up and coming acts to hit the scene. The atmosphere was informal and the band showed that truly professional combination of being relaxed and polished. The vocals were crisp and dynamic and the instrumental blend was superb. Stone’s performance of his award winning song, ”Better Still”, was captivating and enthralling.
On February 26, 2013 The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced Tom Cochrane as the recipient of the 2013 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award. Throughout his career, Cochrane has supported a wide variety of vital initiatives — from World Vision to Parkinson’s research.
The Allan Waters Humanitarian Award recognizes outstanding Canadian artists whose humanitarian contributions have positively enhanced the social fabric of Canada. Named after CHUM Ltd. founder Allan Waters, Tom Cochrane will be presented to Cochrane this honour at the 2013 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, April 20 in Regina.
“I am very honoured to receive the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and would like to thank CARAS and the JUNO Awards,” said Tom Cochrane. “With that said, it is an odd thing to receive an award for trying to do the right things when those things have presented themselves in the light of the tremendous blessings I have received in my life and career. Every day my fans, family and friends get up and many of them do the right things for other people and the good of our world and country without getting acknowledged. So I share this with you. Love to all. "
The 25th Folk Alliance Conference swarmed all over Toronto’s Delta Chelsea Hotel between Feb.20-24. Both Conference and Hotel survived each other and even though they stuck out like hookers at a folk festival, the working girls in the lobby in their little black dresses were ok with the sweaters ’n’ jeans crew.
Which became more rock ’n’ roll raucous as the event wore on, culminating in Saturday’s boozy finale. Which, in the anarchic spirit of the earliest folk traditions, wasn’t one large event but rather a battle of the bands conducted in separate bedroom showcases all over the joint. Doesn’t get more up close and personal than that and gave the event an intimate feel as counterbalance to the slick surroundings.
It was all cozy in Mel Brulee’s bedroom where the Cornwall ON, chanteuse/guitarist did a set of intense, deeply personal material, drawn equally from the Sucré/Salé EP and unreleased songs that quietly but firmly shut out the ruckus in the hallway.