A Weekend at The Juno’s



This past weekend, I had the pleasure of flying out to Halifax, for the 2024 Juno Awards. Seeing the schedule of performances (Charlotte Cardin, Talk, The Beaches), the celebrity hosts (Nelly Furtado) and the accompanying festivities, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Artists from coast to coast gathered in Halifax, both to perform, walk the red carpet, mingle, and hopefully win an award. Perhaps there is no better place for networking in the Canadian music industry than the Junos. The Junos are basically the Canadian Grammy’s, and each year, take place in a different Canadian city. I think this is such a great model, as it gives locals from across the country the opportunity to attend the events, and invites industry participation from regions all across Canada. Last year’s Junos were in Edmonton, the year before that Toronto, and Halifax welcomed the ceremonies in 2024.

Friday, Playing JUNOFest

Having flown in Thursday night, I woke up early to attend a conference presented by Kelly Drennan of an organisation called Fashion tales Action w/ Music Declares Emergency. Always the sociable one, the night before I had managed to befriend Kelly whilst I was getting accosted by airport security (everybody’s favourite). I was getting searched pretty thoroughly as I was travelling with multiple musical instruments, effects units, computers and more. Noticing my struggle in line, Kelly and I laughed it off as we realised, we were heading to the same destination.

Kelly’s presentation talked about how the music industry can contributing to bettering the planets climate and environmental well-being. Things like carbon footprint, sound pollution and most of all, waste in music related merchandising were hot topics of the day. For more information visit the music Declares Emergency website. Later that day, I had the honour of performing as a guitarist in the Logan Staats Band. Logan, being the celebrated winner of CTV’s hit Canadian show “The Launch” in 2019, is a Mohawk singer-songwriter, who’s music has graced radio stations all across the country. Logan’s hit single “The Lucky Ones,” coming out of that show has been streamed more than 1.5 million times. I’ve been lucky enough (pun intended) to tour with Logan Staats since late 2022, and together we’ve graced the stages of Yonge and Dundas Square and TD Music Hall in Toronto, as well as national festivals like The Regina Folk Festival.

But I digress, this year, we had the chance to play at JUNOFest. JUNOFest is a series of concerts that occur in the host-city each year, where nominees showcase their esteemed music in some of the cities most beloved venues throughout the weekend. Logan, his siter Layla and I performed a headlining set at The Carlton, a lovely small venue in Halifax’s downtown core.



Saturday, A Formal Affair at the Opening Banquet

What most people don’t realize, is that there are dozens of Juno Awards (in fact, nearly all of them) that get announced the night before the television broadcast. A formal banquet, with red carpet and everything always occurs the night prior to the TV broadcast. We arrived in the early evening, and were fed a feast of seafood dishes; some salmon, some crabcakes etc. Fitting for the Maritimes! As the banquet went on, the organisers announced award after award, for nearly three hours! But we were treated to some intermittent performances from Lili-Ann DeFrancesco, with her song “The Girl (That You Can’t Get Over).” Some of the most memorable moments were the several wins by acclaimed singer Aysanabee, winning Songwriter of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year, as well as Tate McRae (not in attendance) taking home Single of The Year.

A little bit of insider thoughts here….it seems that many Canadian Artists get “too big” for the Junos. Artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes were nowhere to be found. All Canadian, and all superstars, many of whom released music this year, but none of them present at the Juno ceremony. Interestingly, few if any of these artists received Juno nominations. Perhaps they didn’t have a relevant music release this year? Perhaps their music doesn’t qualify for CanCon anymore? For those readers that aren’t familiar, Can Con is a series of regulations that dictate what music can be considered Canadian, including where it was recorded, written, if the majority of contributors are Canada etc. If music doesn’t qualify as CanCon, it wouldn’t be eligible for a Juno Award.

I digress, perhaps the most memorable moment of the banquet, was Kyle Brownrigg acceptance speech, after winning Comedy Album of the Year. Without a drop of irony, his wit and humour lit up the room, that had been getting a little sleepy sitting through all the wards to be distributed.

Lastly, the award for which I was attending, Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, with the Logan Staats Band, went to another nominee, William Prince. Congratulations are in order to William, but alas the band I was travelling with di not get to grace the stage for an award.

After the awards, I approached Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo to say hello, and he invited me to a private music jam session in his hotel. I think this is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.



JUNO Awards at Halifax, NS, March 24, 2024-PHOTO CREDIT- CARAS-James Bennett-55
JUNO Awards at Halifax, NS, March 24, 2024-PHOTO CREDIT- CARAS-James Bennett-143
JUNO Awards at Halifax, NS, March 24, 2024-PHOTO CREDIT- CARAS-James Bennett-55 JUNO Awards at Halifax, NS, March 24, 2024-PHOTO CREDIT- CARAS-James Bennett-143


Sunday, Live to Television: The Juno Awards Broadcast

Now, the part you’ve all been waiting for. The TV Broadcast on Sunday night was a spectacle. Touring through backstage in the Scotiabank Center in Halifax, chatting with the likes of Charlotte Cardin, The Beaches, and Talk as the afternoon progressed. For those who aren’t familiar, the Junos are filmed live, and additionally, the entire evening is rehearsed beginning-to-end through the morning and afternoon. I actually got in trouble for taking a picture of some of the rehearsals in the afternoon! I wasn’t performing today (though I wish I was), but I had an all-access pass. We were given dressing rooms, that were essentially the dressing rooms of the hockey team that plays in the arena throughout the winter, the Halifax Mooseheads.
Fast forward to the launch of the broadcast, a big jumbotron clock, reminiscent of Times Square on New Year’s Eve counts us down until the whole stadium is live on air. I had been given a seat in the crowd, but with my artist/talent wristband was free to roam into the general admission pit area. I spent the whole show down there. Bursting onto the screen was Nelly Furtado, at the height of her comeback. She graced us with a medley of greatest hits like “Maneater”, Promiscuous” and “I’m Like A Bird”. Nelly hosted the awards for the rest of the night, and even introduced Anne Murray, a Nova Scotian hometown hero to kick off the awards.
My favourite moment of the night was Charlotte Cardin’s performance of her hit song “Confetti”. Perhaps tied with the induction of Maestro Fresh West into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The awards were also embellished by Tegan & Sara receiving a Humanitarian Award, and indigenous artists Alisson Russel and Aysanabee (Accompanied by Shawnee Kish, Julian Taylor, William Prince and logan Staats) leading a tribute to both Gordon Lightfoot and Robbie Robertson, both of which passed away this year. Both of which, are legendary Canadian musicians in their own right.
The night concluded, and everyone fled to their respective afterparties. In many ways, it was over before I knew what hit me. But ultimately one of the most memorable weekends of my life…so far.

Tim Wilson/MS

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