“When we asked our parents if we could play music instead of go to university, they were really mad at us. And they agreed to let us do that for a couple of years. And somewhere in all that we signed a record deal with Neil Young and Elliot Roberts. And Elliot Roberts told us that when we were in our 30s we’d write good music, but that our 20s were for exploring the world and experiencing heartbreak.”
HOST CITY WINNIPEG
Ah, Winnipeg. One of Canada’s largest cities. You can go there and see all the towering skyscrapers. … All right, so there aren’t any skyscrapers. Well, Winnipeg is responsible for a number of important creations. British author A. A. Milne named Winnie the Pooh after a Canadian bear brought to the London Zoo by Winnipeg’s Lt. Colebourn. Publishing company Harlequin, famous for its romance novels, was founded in Winnipeg. Winnipeg polyethylene specialist Harry Wasylyk invented the first plastic garbage bags. Winnie the Pooh, Harlequin romances, plastic garbage bags … for those of you who think Winnipeg concoctions are lame, consider that the best the Brits could come up with were fish & chips, the mini, and forest-dwelling archers in green tights.
The 2014 JUNO Awards was filled with ironies. The Canadian Minister of Official Languages presented at a national event that excluded any Francophone performance. The gala that was originally created to promote Canadian music in the Dominion of Canada did include, however, a performance by a foreign act that has the word Republic in its name. Statements were made about the role of music in preventing youth from being pulled into iniquities during an event that was itself sponsored largely by casinos and alcoholic beverage companies. Music fans vocally denigrated the one they themselves chose for an award … in a country with an international reputation for being polite.
The big winners at the 2014 JUNOs? Calgary-reared, former teen stars Tegan and Sara, the only act to win three awards. Heartthrob, Pop Album of the Year winner, was our favourite album of 2013. Slickly produced, well-written, exciting, catchy, with retro undercurrents, it was 100% world class. The twin sisters also won Group of the Year, and the album’s first-released track “Closer” was named Single of the Year.
Aboriginal artists shone at this year’s JUNOs which is a very good thing. The previous night, George Leach won Aboriginal Album of the Year for his rock jewel, Surrender. A Tribe Called Red took the trophy for Breakthrough Group of the Year for its innovative powwow EDM. Songwriter of the Year was given to Serena Ryder who in her acceptance speech defended Justin Bieber from those who have chosen to ape the behaviour of a press bent upon profiteering via illegal defamation.
Canadian Olympic champions were involved in the proceedings: skier Dara Howell and the women’s curling team. We found this very inspiring. The curlers appeared in humorous prerecorded sketches involving The Sheepdogs and Johnny Reid. Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida and Winnipeg’s own Chantal Kreviazuk, one of Canada’s musical power couples, presented the Album of the Year award. It went to Montréal’s Arcade Fire. While the band was not able to attend, a pre-taped video of their thank you from South America aired.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive was ushered into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, and the band performed together apparently for the first time in 20 years. Legend Randy Bachman said, “If you have a dream, stick to your dream, Plan A. There is no plan B. Plan B is stick to plan A.”
Plan A of the Canadian Music Blog is to support Canadian recording artists regardless of genre whether they are Anglophone, Francophone, or Allophone, whether they are seasoned or teenagers, male or female, bands or solo artists, Aboriginal or naturalized, of European, Asian, or African descent, and whether their name is Avril or Anvil, Bachman or Bieber. For us, there is no Plan B. Congratulations to the JUNO Awards host committee for their hard work in organizing another wonderful show.