Hamilton is well represented at the Juno Awards
Arkells, Monster Truck, Dirty Nil among local artists nominated for April bash in Ottawa
TORONTO — Two Hamilton bands — the Arkells and Monster Truck — will face off against each other at the Junos for rock album of the year.
Unfortunately, they’ll also be competing with the iconic Tragically Hip.
The challenge is doubly tough for the Arkells. The band, which is performing a sold out show Friday night at Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre, is also up against the Hip in the group of the year category.
Gord Downie’s heroism — performing a string of summer concerts with the knowledge that he was suffering from terminal brain cancer — has made The Tragically Hip everybody’s favourite to win in both categories. (Downie is also nominated for songwriter of the year, adult alternative album of the year for his solo album “Secret Path” and video of the year).
Still, the fact that two local bands were nominated Tuesday in the same category demonstrates the power of the Hamilton music scene.
Other local nominees include local punk trio The Dirty Nil (breakthrough group of the year), pianist/composer David Braid (instrumental album of the year), jazz singer Diana Panton (children’s album of the year) and folksinger Corin Raymond (contemporary roots album of the year).
Both Monster Truck and the Arkells are realistic about their chances of winning against The Hip, and full of admiration for Downie.
“It’s just an honour,” said Monster Truck guitarist Jeremy Widerman. “I know that’s the thing you’re supposed to say after being nominated but I really do mean it. Just to be included in that group is an honour.”
Arkells lead singer Max Kerman added, “The best part of the Junos is getting to hang with old friends. We are in some mighty fine company with bands we admire and adore.”
Overall, international stars Drake, Shawn Mendes and The Weeknd led the nominations, which were announced Tuesday at a waterfront club in downtown Toronto, with five each.
Leonard Cohen, one of Canada’s greatest poets and songwriters, will also be a sentimental favourite. Cohen, who died in November at the age of 82, was nominated for four awards, including album of the year for “You Want It Darker.” As well, Cohen will be up against Downie for songwriter of the year honours.
Brampton pop sensation Alessia Cara also scored four nominations, while Ottawa group A Tribe Called Red received three.
Juno winners will be announced Sunday, April 2, at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre during a two-hour nationally televised awards show. Scheduled performers at the event include Mendes, Cara, The Strumbellas and A Tribe Called Red.
Braid, a graduate of the Hamilton All-Star Jazz Band now teaching at the University of Toronto, was nominated for “Flow,” a jazz-classical fusion album recorded with the Czech Republic’s Epoque String Quartet. Braid has won two Junos previously and has been nominated a total of seven times.
Braid’s music for the Chet Baker biopic “Born to be Blue,” starring Ethan Hawke, has also been nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards — best original score and best original song (“Could Have Been”). Canadian Screen Award winners will be announced at a nationally televised gala in Toronto on Sunday, March 12.
Braid, who tours extensively throughout Asia, Europe and North America, will return to Hamilton for a concert on Monday, March 13, at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts.
The Dirty Nil recently completed tours of Australia with Alexisonfire and Europe. The Nil opens a cross Canada tour with Toronto rock powerhouse Billy Talent and Monster Truck on Feb. 16 in Abbotsford, B.C.
Corbin, nominated for his album “Hobo Jungle Dreams,” is a newcomer to Hamilton. The Winnipeg native moved here from Toronto in October and is still settling into the local scene.
“I’ve written three new songs since the new year and I attribute that to Hamilton,” Corbin said.
Diana Panton has been nominated for children’s album of the year.
Above right, The Dirty Nil is Dave Nardi, left, Kyle Fisher, and Luke Bentham. The band has been nominated for a Juno Award as breakthrough group of the year. Left, David Braid’s album Flow has been nominated in instrumental album of the year. Above left, Monster Truck is up for rock album of the year.