by Daniel Calabrese, AFM Canada, Contract Administer
Every year since 1970, the Juno Awards have recognized Canadian musical artists and bands for their artistic and technical achievements in all aspects of music. This award show has grown in the past 45 years, becoming the biggest award show for Canada’s music industry.
For several days prior to the award presentations, events are held in the host city as part of “Junofest.” Local venues open their doors to host around 120 concerts by local and national artists. Hotels are filled with musicians, musician representatives, and music lovers from around the country for this annual tradition. Hamilton, Ontario, hosted this year’s Juno Awards. I was fortunate to attend Junofest, along with AFM International Representative from Canada Allistair Elliott. Together we witnessed some of the best musicians Hamilton has to offer.
Our trip to Hamilton began with a visit to Local 293, the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild. Local Secretary-Treasurer Brent Malseed and President Larry Feudo were great hosts, taking us to see the best up-and-comers, along with some of Hamilton’s well-known musicians. I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of local talent in Hamilton.
One of those performers was previous Juno winner and long-time Local 293 member Rita Chiarelli. She is Canada’s most highly acclaimed female roots and blues artist. Chiarelli just released the soundtrack for her award-winning documentary, Music from the Big House. With one Juno Award and four subsequent Juno nominations, she is known across Canada as “the goddess of the blues.”
It’s no wonder Hamilton has hosted the Juno Awards six times. The awards provide an opportunity to celebrate Canadian music from the past year, not only on a national level, but on a local level. The awards recognize the legends as well as new break-out artists. At Junofest 2015, I saw that the city of Hamilton is proud to embrace and show off its local talent to Canada.
Hamilton Musicans’ Guild showed its pride for the musicians. Local 293 also has a lot to celebrate this past year because it has doubled its membership since the last convention. It’s nice to see how much these local officers get out to shows, pay attention to their music scene, and educate local musicians about the AFM. “We’re doing it one musician at a time, and it seems to be working out for us,” says Malseed.
Overall, it’s always refreshing to see the celebration of Canadian music in one city with musicians, composers, managers, and representatives all in the same place promoting and embracing Canadian culture through music. I look forward to next year’s Junofest in Calgary and I hope for another equally successful event.