The Juno invasion

Canada's music awards come to town

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In Roman mythology, Juno was best known as the patron goddess of Rome and protector of the state. In popular culture, Juno is an indie film. However, Canadians typically associate Juno with the Juno Awards, held annually to honour the best of our nation's music.

The Juno Awards were first held in Toronto in 1970--then known as the Gold Leaf Awards--organized by record label head Stan Klees and RPM Magazine founder Walt Grealis. The awards were renamed the Junos in 1971, a shortened homage to inaugural CRTC head Pierre Juneau, and became a Canadian cultural staple. The ceremony left the cozy confines of Toronto in 1991 to travel the nation and this year have arrived in Calgary. Calgary Arts Development president/CEO Terry Rock sits on the host committee and says the push to bring the awards to town began several years ago.

"It was in 2005 that we originally started and the pitch committee started meeting," remembers Rock. "We put the team together and took a bunch of people just kind of pitching in to see what was happening. From there, everyone who was interested got together and we invited a few more people who knew big events. We had some planning sessions and then scoped out a budget and had some key events that we were going to undertake and sort of built a team from there."

Historically, Calgary is known as a city with a great deal of volunteer spirit, with the 1988 Olympics being famed for its many volunteers. Not unexpectedly, the Juno Awards have also had tremendous community support.

"There was a group of about 20 people with our total planning committee," notes Rock. "That committee then grew with sub-committees to between 50 and 80 at various points. Now we've got over 1,000 volunteers all engaged this weekend. We actually had double or more the number of volunteers [we needed.] Some people were disappointed because they weren't able to participate as volunteers."

Similar to how the Calgary Stampede captures the city in cowboy spirit, Rock says the organizers hope the Junos energizes Calgarians about Canadian music. To that end, the city will be transformed over the awards weekend into a musical wonderland. The centrepiece of the effort is Junofest.

"Junofest is a Juno Awards event," says Rock. "They actually hired a local producer, Greg Curtis from the U of C, [who] put a team together and a committee to pick artists and those kinds of things. He was also on the host committee as an advisor, so he's been involved in all of the planning. It was a good link between us and the Juno Awards in terms of having our vision be part of Junofest. If you look at the lineup for Junofest, it's so good. Calgary's really showing up in it as well."

The rest of Juno Awards weekend features a wide array of events spanning Calgary's various music venues as well as more unique settings, such as the airport. The festivities surrounding over the weekend are aimed that ensuring that the average Calgarian's Juno experience isn't limited to watching the show on CTV, but rather getting them to enjoy as much music as they can.

"Our number-one objective was to engage as many people as possible," states Rock. "This is the biggest city that's hosted the Juno Awards since it left Toronto. We've got a lot of people to let know what's happening and get excited about Canadian music. Right now it starts when you fly into Calgary; as part of the awards, there's live music at the airport and has been for the whole month of March. We're having surprise concerts this week on C-Trains, so you're going to be able to go on the train and have a ride with good music. We're just doing whatever we can to get as many people engaged as possible."

The 2008 Juno Awards air Sun., Apr. 6 beginning at 6 p.m. on CTV. The eTalk Daily at the Junos special begins at 5 p.m. The ceremony's at the Saddledome.

The Festivities

Musicians in Motion�"Fri., Apr. 5 and Sat., Apr. 6 from 12�"2 p.m.

Juno fever has even infected public transit. Local musicians like Michael Bernard Fitzgerald will be playing

45-minute acoustic sets on the C-Train, a great opportunity to take out the headphones and be entertained by live music. At the very least it will definitely add a new dynamic to those crowded moments on the C-Train. Granted, the C-Train isn’t especially crowded at

1:15 p.m. on a Saturday.

Free outdoor concert at Olympic Plaza�"Thu., Apr. 3 from 5�"11 p.m.

Free concerts are a pretty sweet deal. This free Thu. concert is the perfect way to start out the rockingest weekend in Calgary. Starting at 5 p.m. bands like the Dudes and Sloan will take to the stage at Olympic Plaza for a free show. Other acts include lesser known upstarts like Finger Eleven and Bedouin Soundclash.

Juno Cup�"Fri., Apr. 5 starting at 7:30 p.m.

Hockey greats and music geeks fight it out on at the 2008 Juno Cup in the Stampede Corral. On the side of the hockey vets are Doug Gilmour and Paul Coffey against music mavericks like Aaron Lines and Shout Out Out Out Out’s Gravy�"yes folks, that’s what his jersey will say�"on the side of the Rockers. Tickets only cost $15 at Ticketmaster.

Juno Fan Fare�"Sat., Apr. 6 from

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hob-nob with your favourite musicians at the Olympic Oval. With bands like illScarlett and Hedley, as well as singers like Joel Plaskett and rapper Belly, every fan of every genre will be quite pleased. It’s free to attend and the doors open at 9 a.m. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis�"so be sure to get there early to avoid long lineups.

Songwriter’s Circle�"Sun., Apr. 7 from noon to 2 p.m.

The lights go down in the Jack Singer Concert Hall at EPCOR Centre Sun. at noon as numerous

Canadian songwriters, including Alberta’s own Corb Lund and Tegan Quinn (of Tegan and Sara fame), tell stories and sing songs about their experience as singer-songwriters. After the two nights of drinking and partying at Junofest, the more intimate setting of the Songwriter’s Circle is a rare treat indeed. $35�"40 at Ticketmaster.

Juno Fest

Even though most of the buzz about the Junos is devoted to the big name celebrities, it’s all about the music man. Pick up a $30 wristband if you want to traipse all around downtown to check out the greatest bands that Canada has to offer, or if an individual show tickles your fancy you can hit that venue up for $10. Here are some of the best acts to check out.

Hip-Hop Show�"Fri., Apr. 5,

10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

While the Underground is the place for the rockers, the DJs and the rappers ride into the Underground for an epic night of hip-hop. Featuring local acts like Dragon Fli Empire and Skratch Bastid as well as DJ Alie and Deezuz, take a moment out of watching the wanky indie kids to check out this show.

Wintersleep�"Fri., Apr. 5 at midnight

The great Halifax band comes back to Calgary, coming to the indiest of venues�"the Republik�"Fri. at midnight. If you want to stay the night, you can check

out local act Jane Vain and the Dark Matter afterward.

Pride Tiger�"Fri., Apr. 5 at midnight

Sometimes, you just want to rock the fuck out. With their midnight show at the Warehouse, prepare your best rock-out face and get ready to pump your fist in the air as the Vancouver hard-rockers come out to see the Calgary crowd-surfing scene.

Indie Rock Night�"Sat., Apr. 6, 10 p.m. at 1 a.m.

If you find yourself clad in the latest American Apparel couture Pitchfork Media pack into the Republik on Sat. for the indiest night at the Junos. Local groups like Remote Kid, Axis of Conversation play at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. with Most Serene Republic rocking the Republik at midnight. Then screw off to go see the Sadies.

The Sadies�"Sat., Apr. 6 at 1 a.m.

Everything at the Junos tends to be a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, even though Calgary is a bit of a cowboy town. Worry not, square-dancers! The Sadies alt-country crooning is perfect for the second show at Broken City on Sat.

The Nominees

Album of the Year

Avril Lavgine--The Best Damn Thing

Celine Dion--D’elles

Celine Dion--Taking Chances

Feist--The Reminder

Michael Bublé--Call Me Irresponsible

Anne Murray--Duets: Friends and Legends

Alternative Album of the Year

Arcade Fire�"Neon Bible

Holy Fuck--LP

Patrick Watson--Close to Paradise

Tegan and Sara--The Con

Wintersleep--Welcome to the Night Sky

Group of the Year

Arcade Fire

Blue Rodeo

Finger Eleven



International Album of the Year

Bon Jovi--Lost Highway

Fergie--The Dutchess

Josh Groban--Noel

Rhianna--Good Girl Gone Bad

Timbaland--Timbaland Presents Shock Value

For a rundown of all the nominees, head to junoawards.ca. 500 additional tickets for the Sun. awards ceremony will be made available Sat. morning at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.