Juno Award for Carbonear’s Duane Andrews
Swinging Belles return from Calgary with hardware
Duane Andrews has attended plenty of award shows over the years, but the guitarist from Carbonear might have just claimed his biggest prize yet.
The Swinging Belles, a group featuring Andrews, his wife Erin Power and Laura Winter, claimed the 2016 Juno Award for Children’s Album of the year. All three were in attendance to claim the award earlier this month in Calgary, where the event recognizing the achievements of Canadian musicians was held.
“Definitely shock,” said Andrews when asked about his immediately reaction to hearing they’d won. He had not been up for a Juno Award prior to this year, but he did perform at a Juno Awards showcase when the event was last held in St. John’s
“I’ve been involved with a few different awards over the years, and still, you never know, really, what’s going to happen from my experiences. And I’ve seen not just myself. I’ve seen others as well. It could be categories where you assume that person has to get it, and it doesn’t happen. And sometimes someone who is completely unknown comes in and gets the award.
“At least for me, especially from the music side, I still approach it the same way as I do with any of my other music that I make.” Duane Andrews
“Even though it’s completely unpredictable, it’s always a rush and a thrill for sure.”
Billed as a swing band for kids, the St. John’s-based group released their debut album “More Sheep, Less Sheep” in December 2014. It features original songs steeped in swing music, country and jazz.
The group earned accolades previously at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards, claiming Children’s Album of the Year.
In Andrews’ view, people making music for children often look to simplify things in order to make songs palpable for kids.
“I think for us, we take a different approach,” he said. “At least for me, especially from the music side, I still approach it the same way as I do with any of my other music that I make. In the end, it’s just about wanting to make great music, and the Belles do a similar thing when they’re working on lyrics and different ways of interacting with children.”
Andrews’ bread-and-butter remains his penchant for taking traditional folk tunes and other numbers and giving them a gypsy jazz makeover in the style of legendary French guitarist Django Reinhardt. He’s won a slew of awards over the years and toured extensively.
The Swinging Belles will play around the island regularly this summer. Andrews is currently touring Atlantic Canada with Nova Scotia fiddle player Donald MacLennan, and when he returns to this province he’ll be ready to record with Fretboard Journey — a quartet comprised of Newfoundland guitarists Andrews, Sandy Morris, Gordon Quinton and Craig Young. He expects that album will be ready for the fall.
Beyond the experience of winning an award, Andrews admits to being surprised by how much he enjoyed Calgary in general.
“I don’t know why that was a surprise, but the city itself was fabulous. There’s lots of good, sort of progressive ideas with the public arts. They’ve got bike lanes going everywhere.”
They also managed to meet Calgary’s popular mayor, Naheed Nenshi.
“We met him a few times actually over the weekend, and you really do get a feeling from him that he’s got a good sense of direction.”
Newfoundland group, The Swinging Belles, took home a Juno Award earlier this month. Members of the band are, from the left, Laura Winter, Erin Power and Duane Andrews.