Mark you calendar and grab your wallet! Tickets for the 2012 Juno Awards will go on sale Friday, February 10 at 10 am. Fans will be able to purchase tickets to the awards show, taking place on Sunday, April 1 at the Scotiabank Centre in Ottawa, both online and on the phone.
Though more artists will definitely be added to the line up, the stage is already set for an impressive 2012, with performances from Feist, City and Colour, Blue Rodeo and deadmau5 confirmed. The full list of nominees will be announced on February 7, days before tickets for the show go on sale. For more information on how to purchase tickets to the 2012 Juno Awards click here.
I spend a lot of time writing about music and telling you why I think you should know about a particular song or artist, this week I’ve have chosen songs by artists I have recently interviewed so I could give you some of their insight as well. In the case of Chris Whitley, it’s from his daughter.
Poison Girl – Chris Whitley (1991)
Before passing away far too soon at the age of 45, Chris Whitley had a career in music that was fueled by talent mixed with random acts of discovery. Very early in his life and just out of high school he was discovered while busking on the streets of NYC by someone who ran a travel agency, and for some reason this person believed Chris would be huge in Belgium and offered to send him over there. Fast forward a few years and he released a couple of albums and even though he fell short of the grand Belgium aspirations of his travel agent fan, he did make a small dent in the music scene over there but more importantly it was the beginning of a musical path that would bring him back to New York and his next random moment of discovery. Sometime in 1988 Daniel Lanois discovered Chris Whitley playing in a NYC club and immediately took it upon himself to help Chris get a record deal, which he managed to do. His label debut was recorded at Lanois’s New Orleans home and produced by Lanois protégé Malcom Burn who at that point had worked with The Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo. The album “Living with the Law” was thought to be the beginning of breakthrough for Chris Whitley and it helped him score a tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but the stars never aligned and he became a cult artist; one of those musicians who didn’t have mainstream success but had the respect and admiration of the musicians who did. Everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Iggy Pop to John Mayer and Keith Richards have at one time or another mentioned his music and claimed to be fans.
When he passed away of lung cancer in 2005 he left behind a daughter, Trixie, who was 2 years old at the time he recorded that “Living with the Law” album at Daniel Lanois’s home, and she was with her dad through some of that process. Almost 19 years later Daniel Lanois started a new project he calls Black Dub which was completed by one more act of Whitley randomness when he called Trixie, who was an aspiring musician making ends meet as a waitress, and asked her if she would like to sing in his new band. This is what Trixie said about connecting with Daniel again:
“I was living in Dan’s house at that time when my dad was there, so I was about two or three years old… but I hadn’t seen him since then, but when we re-met It did feel like family in a way”-Trixie Whitley
Since the early 60’s The Chieftains have found huge success popularizing the traditional music of their Irish homeland and while on that journey have worked with a diverse range of artists like Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello, Madonna and Ziggy Marley. In 1998 they were part of an album called “Fire in the Kitchen” that paired them with Canadian artists and along with Great Big Sea gave their take on the traditional Newfoundland and Labrador song Lukey’s Boat. Bob Hallett of GBS said this about the making of the video in Ireland:
“A ton of money had been spent, and there was this big script, we’re going to do this and talk about that, go to this place… and the Chieftains are like no, we’re just going to sit here in this pub and drink a pint, and you guys can film that… and we’re like, alright, this is going to be okay”-Bob Hallett
Blue Rodeo, after more than 20 years, can still sell out arenas coast to coast. Their popularity never seems to waiver and the funny thing is, their biggest hit was from their debut album “Outskirts” back in 1987. That’s a LONG time to be playing everyone’s favorite Blue Rodeo tune night after night and it got me thinking about the relationship between a hit song and its writer; this is what Jim Cuddy says:
‘When we first started, the first five years, we played so much that there were certain songs we had to do all the time and after five years I had a lot of fatigue with certain songs – like Try. So I took a year off Try…I think now, we gauge the amount we play in general so it’s nice to have certain songs that people like and want to hear, and we try in our concerts to give people some they want to hear, some they don’t know they’re gonna hear, so no, I don’t really have a problem with any of them now”-Jim Cuddy
No Mistakes – Classified (2005)
Classified is getting a lot of well deserved attention since signing to a major label which is ironic for an artist like him because so much of his music and a lot of his appeal over his long career of making music has revolved around the topic of being outside of that world and being the ultimate independent artist. What I love about his story is that after a while, the industry just couldn’t deny the longevity and success of this guy and he is now reaping the benefits of that machine instead of standing outside in the cold…. and he hasn’t had to change a damn thing. The only difference now is that he has more time to focus on his craft and all of a sudden his music’s reach has doubled and tripled because radio and media often times need some sort of validation from a record company before they will support something, and now that he has been validated he is getting more exposure. So while you may be hearing him for the first time with his new found membership to the industry, let’s not forget all the hard work and amazing songs that got him there and feel lucky that he has a large and strong back catalogue that you can discover. This is what he says about the old songs meeting the new exposure:
“…for an older song that I do at shows that people still react to, is No Mistakes – which came out in 2004-2005, and it was just you know when I was still coming up, never really getting any play on Much or anything like that, and just doing my stuff… that’s the one I find that a lot of people if they go back and hear it they’re like, Yo, I love that song No Mistakes”-Classified
Highway of Hero’s – The Trews (2010)
The Trews have had HUGE radio success in Canada with something like 13 top 10 hits including 2 number 1’s, however, it was their 2010 track “Highway of Hereo’s” that has made the biggest impact for the band. “Highway of Hero’s” is a song that was inspired by the death of Capt. Nichola Goddard from The Trews’ hometown of Antigonish, N.S. and the song turned into a tribute to not only her, but all Canadian Soldiers who have lost their lives protecting our freedom. Released as a charity single for the Hero Fund (a Canadian charity that provides scholarships for families of fallen soldiers), it actually came in between albums for the band but now has turned out to be their most successful song but in a very different way than they have grown accustomed. It’s a beautiful example of how music can be so much bigger then sales and chart positions. This is what Colin MacDonald told me about the tune:
“I’ve had people come up at shows with their brother’s dog tags who didn’t come back and they just hold them up while we played it at the show. You know it’s hard to keep it together for that one when people do that kind of stuff, and I think overall it’s been a pretty moving song”-Colin MacDonald
thanks for listening,
I’ve been interviewing musicians for a long time; nine years in case you are wondering. Sometimes it feels like nine seconds, sometimes it feels like 90 years, depends on what day you catch me. This job is really just a form of people watching and a successful interview has as much to do with being well researched as does the circumstance in which the interview takes place. Interviewing musicians backstage while they are running between media outlets, their seats, and the bar, at the biggest celebration of Canadian music is not exactly Charlie Rose territory, but that type of in-depth conversation is not really expected at the Juno’s.
The idea is to be prepared to chat with anyone, at any moment, and just hope that if Neil Young or Robbie Robertson decide to stop by for a chat you are mentally ready and not flustered by the fact that you just spent 10 minutes reading about Melanie Fiona because she was supposed to stop by first. You have to understand that every media outlet in Canada is back there hoping to grab a sound-bite and scoop the next media outlet and all the artists want to do is celebrate with their friends and family because they just won a Juno. For our part, we were not interested in scooping anyone or adding to the mad rush of competition. We just wanted to try and find a moment out of the madness to have a conversation, as short as it might have to be, and paint our own picture of the night.
Is it ideal? No. Is it enjoyable? Meh. Is it exciting? Absolutely. There is something exciting about trying to force interesting conversations with artists for five minutes at a time, every 5-10 minutes. I’ve never experienced speed dating but I would suggest that our backstage Juno experience is exactly like speed dating and lucky for me…I’ve dated most of these people before.
What you are seeing here is the raw and unedited interviews we managed to score and even though Neil Young and Robbie Robertson did not stop by, I did see them walk by and I’m kinda glad that’s all it was because I want my first date with those dudes to be a little more romantic and special, like a first date should always be.
Highlights you ask? Me trying to cheer Sean and Bob from Great Big Sea up after losing their 12th straight Juno, Daniel Lanois’s hat and confession that there is no rhyme or reason to how he has navigated his almost perfect career, Classified making it through my three minute questions, Blue Rodeo making it through my three minutes questions and Keshia Chante’s mouth answering the question, but her eyes wondering “why in God’s name at the Juno’s is this guy asking me about Minnie Mouse?”
But my favorite moment of the night was interviewing “New Artist of the Year” winner Meaghan Smith because it was her first Juno experience and we were her first interview after she won her first Juno. It’s about as honest as it gets in this industry, she is over the moon with excitement and cannot believe that she just won a Juno and it’s written all over her face. She is giddy in the way I assume most people are after a first date with me.
Speed dating is fun,
Blue Rodeo 1
Blue Rodeo 2
Buck 65 1
Buck 65 2
Daniel Lanois 1
Daniel Lanois 2
Great Big Sea 1
Great Big Sea 2