When hunky CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi walks onto stage and tells you that you're attending the jewel of the Junos, the bar is already set pretty high. Thankfully, the Songwriter's Circle proved itself to be just that: the crown jewel of the Junos experience.
Walking into the Jack Singer Concert Hall Sun. at noon, the most shocking thing was the audience. Young and old alike were crowding around the steps, chatting amongst themselves. Like the lineup at the event--featuring afro-frunkster Alex Cuba, Calgary's own Tegan Quinn (from Tegan and Sara) and cowboy Corb Lund--there was a diverse crowd chomping at the bit to check out some of the hottest acts in all of Canada.
The event was a two-hour feast of music. The first hour was devoted to lesser-known acts like the aforementioned Cuba, Serena Ryder and Jeremy Fisher. Joel Plaskett, the gangliest man in Canada, hosted the entire event.
Although these three songwriters had nothing to prove, they played off each other and had the audience singing along by the end of their set. Of special note was Cuba--each song he busted out left the audience on their feet in applause. To fill time, he led the four in an exciting improv song that was the highlight of the entire afternoon.
Up next was Quinn, Lund and Jay Malinowski (of Bedouin Soundclash). Although they all did an admirable job, they were outshone by the previous lineup. It was still a fascinating and intimate look at these music stars, but it seemed at times this group wasn't having as much fun as the previous ones.
That aside, the Songwriter's Circle was a rare chance for audiences to see these singer-songwriters in such an intimate setting. Check out the podcast of the event at the Canada Live podcast feed on www.cbc.ca/podcasting.