Avril, k-os triple winners at Junos
WINNIPEG (CP) – The pop-tinged rock of Avril Lavigne and the infectious beats of rapper k-os earned the performers three Junos apiece Sunday as the country’s music community took care of business during a giant Prairie rock party.
With the Guess Who’s Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman among those gracing the stage, Manitoba’s most famous music exports were on display with the notable exception of international icon Neil Young, who cancelled after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Barefoot and misty-eyed, singer k. d. lang filled in for the Toronto-born, Winnipeg-raised Young, who is recuperating in New York where he watched the show at the Canadian consulate.
“If there is a beacon or a bastion of an artist who has maintained his integrity and his uncompromising vision and purity . . . it is Neil Young. So Neil, I sing this for you. Heal fast my friend,” lang said before launching into a cover of Young’s Helpless.
John Brunton, executive producer of the Juno telecast, said he had spoken to someone at the consulate who reported that Young was visibly moved by the tribute.
“He actually teared up and thought it was one of the most beatufil things,” said Brunton.
The show’s lineup had to be rejigged at the last minute after Young cancelled on Friday because he was still recovering from brain surgery he had late last month.
It was supposed to be a Canadian homecoming for the singer-songwriter. He hadn’t attended a Juno ceremony since 1982 when he was inducted into the Music Hall Of Fame.
The two-a-half-hour spectacle, was – as promised in the show’s slogan “the flatter the land, the harder the rock” – filled with plenty of crunchy guitars, wailing vocals and screaming Winnipeggers.
Clad in a KISS-inspired leather outfit, host Brent Butt kicked off the party shredding an electric guitar and shouting, “Are you ready to rock?” to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd of 13,000 at the MTS Centre on Winnipeg’s famous Portage Avenue.
Toronto’s k-os showed viewers why he deserved his three Junos with a high-energy performance of his songs B-Boy Stance and Crucial, accompanied by breakdancers and a rock band.
“It’s a victory for showing alternative images of black people on television,” the performer, whose real name is Kevin Brereton, said backstage. “I feel happy that I’m being rewarded for that.”
His CD Joyful Rebellion was named rap recording of the year while his song Crabbuckit, a catchy, gospel-infused hip-hop track, took the best single trophy, beating out Shania Twain’s Party for Two and the Trews’ Not Ready to Go, among other nominees.
On the other side of the world performing in Singapore, Napanee, Ont.’s Lavigne was not on hand to pick up her hardware, which included artist of the year and fans’ choice.
Punksters Billy Talent, indie darling Feist, and classical group Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra were double winners.
“This is an honour,” Billy Talent’s Ben Kowalewicz said in accepting the group of the year award.
Critics’ favourite Ron Sexsmith was finally awarded a best songwriter Juno after losing the category three previous times.
“I’m glad to have finally won something,” the soft-spoken singer said backstage.
Sarah Harmer took the best adult alternative album honour, a new category created to catch some of the country’s more eclectic musicians who often get pushed out of the top categories by mainstream artists.
There are 39 Juno categories in all. Winners were selected in a voting process by members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Eight awards were handed out during Sunday’s show, which was broadcast on CTV and featured a specially designed stage that allowed Winnipeg kids to sit in the middle of the action.
The celebration included the induction of the Tragically Hip into the hall of fame. The veteran rock heroes gave a robust performance of their hits Fully Completely and Grace, Too.
Frontman Gord Downie was his usual slithering, head-shaking, rambling self. His seemingly impromptu poetic lines included asking the world to “move the UN headquarters to Halifax, all right?” and referencing the weekend’s biggest headline by saying: “This might be my last Pope John Paul.”
The Kingston, Ont., rock band, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, had been lauded at a formal industry-only dinner on Saturday night by the likes of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, environmental activist David Suzuki, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page, who called the band his “older, stoner brothers” in a pre-packaged video.
Other winners included Diana Krall for best jazz vocal album, Marie-Elaine Thibert for francophone album, Green Day for international album and Bob Rock for producer for his work on Simple Plan’s Still Not Getting Any and Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster.
The show closed with a Winnipeg tribute featuring Bachman, Cummings, the Waking Eyes, Fresh I. E., Nathan and the Wailin’ Jennys. The group performed Takin’ Care of Business and Share The Land.
Avril, k-os triple winners at Junos