Juno Awards fever in Saskatchewan
SASKATOON (CP) – Ever since the Juno Awards decided to take the show on the road a few years back, musicians have applauded the idea.
Blue Rodeo singer Jim Cuddy has said holding the music gala in a different city each year is “the best thing the Junos ever did.” And Daniel Victor, whose band Neverending White Lights is up for new artist of the year, can’t wait for this weekend’s party in Saskatoon.
“They don’t have a lot going on in their city like Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal,” said Victor, who’s based in Windsor, Ont. “(They) really appreciate the music because it’s one of the only things going on.”
While Saskatoon residents may quibble with Victor’s rather blunt assessment of the city’s attractions, they seem ready to pull out all the stops this weekend.
As Juno festivities kicked off Thursday, a local park featured three different stages representing country, classic rock and modern rock. At another venue, an aboriginal music showcase was planned.
Local musicians will play in restaurants and furniture stores, clothing boutiques and coffee shops on the weekend.
And then of course, there are the official Juno events: the Juno Cup hockey game on Friday night in Prince Albert, Sask., a “fan fare” on Saturday afternoon with artist interviews and prizes, an awards gala on Saturday night and the main televised awards bash on Sunday night.
Among the thousands expected to descend on the city this weekend is Regina resident Adam Ailsby, who says he was lucky to score seats to Sunday’s show.
Ailsby and his girlfriend, Michele Ellingsen, 31, were on vacation in Mexico when tickets went on sale in February.
“I’d just sort of resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going,” said Ailsby, 28. “I’d given up all hope.”
But Ailsby said the day before he left on his trip, a friend offered to go online to try for tickets.
The tickets went quickly – 6,000 sold out in 14 minutes – but on a beach in Mexico a self-proclaimed “big Canadian music fan” got the message he had been waiting for.
“I got an e-mail when I was in Mexico that we did get tickets and I was very, very excited about that,” said Ailsby. “I danced around in the surf.”
Said Ellingsen: “To find out we actually had tickets and could go … was pretty exciting when you’re a Canadian music fan.”
Officials at Tourism Saskatoon estimate the Junos will draw about 3,000 people to the city from outside Saskatchewan and many more within the province. Preliminary figures suggest it will also inject as much as $7 million into the local economy.
It will also showcase Saskatoon for the rest of Canada, said Todd Brandt, president and CEO of Tourism Saskatoon and a co-chair of the Saskatoon Juno host committee.
“It does create a whole new level of exposure for Saskatoon,” said Brandt.
“Instant credibility comes with understanding that Saskatoon is capable of hosting much more major events in our community,” he said.
Ailsby and Ellingsen, who also saw the Rolling Stones perform in Regina last fall, said they hoped the Juno festivities will be a drawing card for other acts.
“I think these two events are putting Saskatchewan on the map,” said Ailsby.
“Hopefully they’ll inspire a whole bunch of other acts to come and make shows in Saskatchewan too.”
Other cities that have hosted the Junos include St. John’s (2002), Ottawa (2003), Edmonton (2004), Winnipeg (2005) and Halifax (2006).
The show heads to Calgary next year.
Have you got the fever? I am in Prince Albert, so I don’t…but I will be in Saskatoon on Saturday and Sunday, so we’ll see!
Juno Awards fever in Saskatchewan