On Tuesday, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced this year's artist line-up for the CBC Music-presented JunoFest and it definitely has marquee appeal.
The two-night festival will showcase performances by some of Canada's top acts over stages in 20 venues on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 as part of the Juno Week activities in the capital city.
The lineup includes both Juno Award nominees and rising stars from across the nation.
More than 40 of this year’s nominees are set to participate, including notables such as The Strumbellas, Whitehorse (both previous winners), Silla + Rise, The Dirty Nil, Tasha The Amazon, Holy Fuck, Colin Linden, Crystal Shawanda, Cold Creek County, Jenny Whiteley, Dilly Dally, Brandi Disterheft, Harrison, Corin Raymond, Weaves, Kacy and Clayton, and Exco Levi.
Appearing but not nominated are Jim Cuddy, Mélanie Brûlé, Jason Plumb, Devin Cuddy, Neon Dreams, NQ Arbuckle, Julian Taylor Band, and Tanya Tagaq.
As Director of Special Events at CARAS, Chris Topping handles the organization of JunoFest each year. In an interview with FYI yesterday, he explains that putting the fest together is done on very short notice.
“I oversee the event and hire the producer. Each year, we use a local producer, and this year it was Shawn Scallen and his company Spectrasonic. It is great to go into markets and work with independent promoters. Shawn produced for us in 2012 too. It is a huge undertaking for him, and I’m very thankful for his time and energy."
"We are thrilled with the lineup. It is no easy task. We start booking once the nominees are announced, so it comes together in three to four weeks. We’ve booked 120 bands, and there are over 40 nominees representing many different genres. 40 is kind of the average the last few years.”
Topping explains that some of the non-nominees are selected via a submissions website. "We are also in constant contact with agents. We do prioritise with current nominees, but we’re also booking national touring acts and also looking to put a spotlight on the local community.’
“These events were created to give music fans different types of access to Canadian artists. Getting to see Jim Cuddy in a club is a pretty cool thing. So is putting a bill together with Dilly Dally and The Dirty Nil. The roof is going to be blown off that venue! These are developing artists with a healthy buzz.”
Unlike some showcasing festivals, JunoFest pays all the artists, Topping explains. "Everybody gets paid. We have a deal with the AFM [the union] where we pay at minimum AFM rates. Through the Junos, CARAS and Radio Starmaker'travel bursary, we do try to provide as much funding as we can to as many nominees as possible.”
To get their take on JunoFest, we contacted some of the nominees who’ll be performing.
Sean Pinchin is a first-time nominee, up for the Blues Album of the Year award for Monkey Brain, and he tells FYI that “I'm very happy with the lineup and venue selected for my showcase! Colin Linden is my hero, can't believe I'll be on the same bill.”
Pinchin adds that “I would like to use this opportunity to be heard by more folks in the Canadian music community absolutely, but I also plan to have a good time on that stage.”
He notes that “there is compensation for the performance and I believe a grant is available to some as travel assistance. I applied, so fingers crossed!”
Another first time nominee is Amanda Tosoff, nominated in the Vocal Jazz Album category for Words. She shares a bill with Heather Bambrick and Barbra Lica (both also nominated in the category), and Shirantha Beddage, nominated for Jazz Album of the Year, Solo.
“I’m excited to play alongside these fellow nominees,” Tosoff says. “I think it will be a really nice mix of music too, with Heather and Barbra's groups, and Shirantha's instrumental quartet. I’m hoping that this will be a nice opportunity to get industry people out.”
Lica is also relishing the showcase opportunity, acknowledging that "the other musicians on the bill are definitely talented humans. I'll certainly invite the peeps from the Ottawa Jazz Fest."
She adds that "because of support from the Radio Starmaker Fund, I'm paying the band a fee in line with what they normally see as well as per diems and travel expenses."
Roots singer/songwriter Mélanie Brûlé is not a Juno nominee but nonetheless enthuses that “I'm super stoked to be showcasing at JunoFest! We're inviting media and industry to the showcase of course but even if only a few people see my show that haven't before, that's a win in my eyes.
“JunoFest usually presents what's up and coming so it's nice to be considered since I'm working on new material that will be performed for the first time on April 1.”
Brûlé confirms that “we are being paid. I don't have details on that yet but I imagine it'll be about half or less than our usual pay.”
Wristbands are available to purchase for $30 (plus tax and service fees) and are now on sale through Ticketfly. Wristbands provide priority access to all participating venues both nights. Single show tickets will be available for purchase in advance or at the door, and are subject to space and availability.
Read the full performance schedule here