Out And About At The Junos With Karen Bliss
Karen hung with the crowd, relentlessly pushing her way to the front wherever possible to grab a quote, share a story and win over whomever in her ever-personable way. What follows is a detailed account of some of what transpired, including capturing an hilarious quote from the ever-quotable Bruce Allen. With video.
By Karen Bliss
FYI Music News was in Edmonton for a few days, March 11 to 14, to take in the Juno Awards festivities, starting with the very special Honouring Ceremony by Indigenous artists and speakers and ending with the Universal Music party at The Banquet that came complete with a bowling alley, Price Is Right wheel, and fried Mars bars on a stick.
In between, there was the personal and solutions-based Be The Change Panel, co-presented by Advance and Music Canada; a safe and jam-packed Women In Music panel not open to men; the Juno Songwriters’ Circle hosted with enthusiasm, respect and humour by their fellow singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle; and a rare club show by Billy Talent at the sold-out Midway.
It was exceptionally cold in Edmonton, but everything was either a short cab /Uber away, or one could walk inside the pedway to the mall, the Marriott and Sandman hotels, all the way to Rogers Place (provided one didn’t get lost), which was built for about $480 million, opened in 2016 and is part of the 50,000 sq. ft. ICE district.
There was Juno signage everywhere, from outside installations to covering entire lengths of the pedestrian bridge to the elevator doors at Sandman Signature hotel. Even a street was renamed Juno Way.
Next year, the awards will be in Halifax, with Juno Week running March 20-24.
Before then, however, the second dedicated Canadian Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which was put on hold during the pandemic, returns to Calgary on May 18 at Studio Bell, home to the National Music Centre (NMC), including the Hall of Fame exhibits. The new inductees are francophone singer Diane Dufresne, 78; legendary jazz pianist Dr. Oliver Jones, 88; chart-topping country singer Terri Clark, 54; and 1975-formed hell-raising rock group Trooper.
FYI Music News has compiled a selection of important quotes from Juno weekend, taken from opening night speeches, on the red carpet, in the media room or on the broadcast.
Allan Reid, president & CEO, CARAS/Juno Awards, CEO of MusiCounts, Before His Juno Tradition, Encouraging the First-Time Nominees to Stand Up for a Toast:
It is not always easy to be a working artist in this country, especially in the last few years. You have my admiration and respect. When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was work in the music business. I loved music — and I still do. And one of the most rewarding parts of my job is the discovery of new music. It’s what fuels me. I’m so proud to lead an organization that celebrates the talent in this country. People often ask why it’s important that awards show celebrate. Well, when we celebrate, we inspire. We inspire new generations of artists and sounds. We inspire dreams. And dreams become reality. And that reality is present here tonight in all the first-time nominees, of which there are 82 this year.
Derrick Ross, President, Slaight Music, From The Stage At Opening Night Awards:
I am proud to announce a newly created initiative with MusiCounts, The Slaight Family Foundation Innovation Fund. The Slaight Family Foundation is going to be making a $2 million investment in MusiCounts to bring diverse music programs across to classrooms nationwide over the next five years. Yes, it’s awesome working for Santa Claus, I gotta tell ya. Through the Slaight Family Foundation Innovation Fund, MusiCounts will develop programs that focus on technology, recording, mixing, beat-making, and culturally relevant programming that reflects the diverse traditions of Canadian communities from coast to coach to coast. This is education, not instruments, which is very important for helping teachers bring music education to children.
Nickelback's Chad Kroeger Giving Thanks During Band's Induction into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame: Here we go. 27 years, blood, sweat, and tears. Started off 300 kilometres southeast of here in a little town called Hanna. We had no idea what we were doing and, most of the time still don't. But everything we did wound up leading us to this moment right here. But we didn't make it here without a lot of help. And so we’ve got a ton of thank yous…Mom, dad, love you. Thank you for giving birth to half the band. Our lawyer, Jon Simkin, has been with us from the beginning when nobody wanted to touch this band with a 10-foot pole. Ralph James, our legendary booking agent who put us on the road with the Headstones, Matthew Good, Big Sugar, and every single band that would let us open for them, thank you. Our managers — Simon [Tikhman] and Chief [Kevin Zaruk] [who] started it off as our road manager 22 years ago, and now he manages the band. [Publicist] Charlotte Thompson. All of the great record labels — and this band has been around for 27 years, we've been signed to every label out there. [Warner Chappell’s] Greg Sowders, thank you for writing us our first publishing check and allowing me to buy my first home. You're a badass.
Ryan Peake then picked up the rest, adding thanks to Brian Coleman “for all the years of guidance,” Bradley Roosa, Bradley Kind, Kris Dawson, and the previous drummers, Brandon Kroeger, Mitch Guindon and Ryan Vikedal (who they brought on stage with them).
The Sadies’ Travis Good On Broadcast Red Carpet About Winning Adult Alternative Album Of The Year For Colder Streams, And Continuing Without His Brother, Dallas:
It was very sad and bittersweet and happy-sad. That’s really become the story of our lives these days. It would have been a hard decision, except the record was already done, mixed and ready to go when Dallas passed, so we had to go out and tour. We had to honour him and all the work he put into it.
Digging Roots’ Shoshona Kish Onstage at Opening Night Awards, After Winning for Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group, for Zhawenim:
To our community who are making, in my opinion, the most inspired, cutting-edge music in the world right now, you inspire me every day, and you are 100 percent my reason why. We make music for our community, and this is a roomful of artists and change-makers. I just want to put to all of you that we can become our greatest selves, and I know that artists lead the way in that. So, I honour all of you, and I hope that we can find that best future together.
DJ Mel Boogieon The Broadcast Red Carpet about DJing for the Broadcast’s 50 years of Hip-Hop Segment, Featuring Performers Choclair, Dream Warriors, Maestro Fresh Wes, Michie Mee and Tobi with Co-Hosts Kardinal Offishall and Haviah Mighty:
Canadian Hip-Hop has a very rich history that sometimes gets overlooked. I know we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the culture as a whole, but tonight here on the stage, we’re celebrating Canada’s contributions to that incredible, complex, layered, intricate history, and I’m just super-excited and fangirling and music-nerding all at the same time, being able to DJ for that.
Tenille Townes, Winner Of Country Album Of The Year For Masquerades, On The Broadcast Red Carpet, About Bryan Adams Singing on The Thing That Wrecks You:
It is a single. It’s at country radio right now, and I hope maybe crossing over to other places. Who knows? I’m so excited the song is out there; it’s such a dream to have him singing on it. It literally went from a handwritten letter and a burnt CD in a FED-X envelope to us getting to sing on this song together. It’s an absolute dream come true.
Bruce Allen Presenting the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award to Ron Sakamoto:
It is my honour to induct the Japanese cowboy, professional yodeler and 17-time winner of the CCMA’s Promoter of the Year Award, an award he won so often they named it after him just to make sure he could get out of the category. You know who I’m talking about, Alberta’s own Ron Sakamoto. There is no one, no one, who has done more for Canadian country music than Ron Sakamoto…Ron had a bigger vision than just running Canadian acts across the country. He wanted to bring American country music to Canada, so Ron headed to Nashville. While knocking on doors, he ran into a young John Huie, who was putting together a country division for CAA…The way Ron tells it, he listened to what he had to say and then came back with this rejoinder: ‘Let me get this straight: you’re a Japanese guy, running an agency with a Jewish name, Gold & Gold, and you want to promote country music in Canada? This is so stupid, it might just work.’
Ron Sakamoto on Receiving Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the Opening Night Awards:
You might not recognize that song as I walked up, but it’s called Sayonara Maverick, written by Murray McLauchlan. He came to my home for four days and said, ‘I’m going to write a song about your parents and you. He wrote it, and we had a lot of fun, and he put it on his album called Heroes. It’s impossible for me to summarize almost 60 years of my career in three minutes, and I don’t want to miss anyone. So I just want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who has crossed my path to bring me where I am today…My wife of 40 years. She says we’ve been married for 40 years now, but I’ve only been home for 20 because I’ve been on the road so much.
AP Dhillon in the Media Room on Making History as The First Artist to Perform in Punjabi at the Juno Awards:
It’s amazing. I was excited about this performance. It all went great. I was happy that I was here representing my people tonight. It’s a feeling that you can’t buy with any money. I moved here in 2015 with two suitcases, and a dream — that was to inspire people back home and the immigrants to come to this country who have the same hope and the same dream. For me, I’m glad that I’m representing my community here and inspiring people. At the end of the day, if I can change the lives of five to 10 people, I think that’s successful.
Allan Reid on Giving Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew the MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award:
When [MusiCounts president] Kristy Fletcher and I called Kevin to say he was going to be receiving the MIMA Award, he was really reluctant. He was like, ‘I don’t do the work; don’t shine the spotlight on me.’ And that’s just not the truth. This idea never would have happened for the community music program without him. He was the one who planted that seed, and here we are, $4 million later, given out all across this country. That’s why it’s so important. It’s not just about doing that work; it’s about inspiring people and inspiring people in this room tonight to get involved with charities and doing that work.
Kevin Drew on Receiving the MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award:
This is more a call to the idea of MusiCounts and keeping MusiCounts going and keeping this program going. You have something you want to go and do that’s going to help others in the community, go and do it. It takes time, it takes effort, but when you surround yourself with great people, a.k.a. MusiCounts, you will get results.
Kevin Drew's Acceptance Speech Is A Cool Serendipitous Story:
Please welcome Sanaaj Mirrie up here on stage. It was her school that we went to when we filmed Afiwi Groove School. The interesting aspect about walking into her place in November to do the film for this whole award was that we looked at each other and we realized we knew each other. And Sanaaj worked at TD back nine years ago when we started this program. Give it up for TD 3.9 million [dollars]…Sanaaj worked there, and then she left, and she went out into her community, and she created what then became something that the whole program that we had started. The idea with MusiCounts and trying to get to communities all over Canada ended up coming back nine years later to benefit her program.
*After Mirrie stepped to the mic to talk a bit about Afiwi Groove School, Drew gave her the statuette. "You inspire me...She is the one that deserves this," he said.