Calgary played host to this year's BreakOut West weekend conference/music festival/awards show October 3-6 in which top international music industry delegates and Western Canadian musicians alike shared spaces with Calgary locals to showcase and promote the best musical talent this side of the country. It had been nine years since Calgary last hosted the Western Canadian Music Awards back in 2004. This year, the musical acts and conference delegates were increasingly more diverse and plentiful, bringing together the spirit of Western Canadian music with the necessary business training required for increased visibility and productivity.
The music festival portion took place in the late night to wee hours of the morning from Thursday to Sunday, in several venues around the city including the National Music Centre. For anyone familiar with Sled Island, this festival format is very similar; several bands play in multiple rooms within the same venue throughout the entire evening. A quick jaunt to another venue close-by will house other eclectic bands in multiple rooms or floors, and so on within city limits.
It was standing room only on Friday night at The Palomino Smokehouse both upstairs and downstairs for Vancouver-based band, The Belle Game, and Juno award winner, Youssou Seck. These two in particular, I believe, are great examples of what is musically capable for Western Canada. They may not don dusty cowboy boots for their act, yet they’re still every bit Western Canadian. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As with any set of balances, serious business must take place among the fun. The conference portion brings industry leaders from the UK, the United States, and Canada to give musicians the education of a lifetime, with several sessions about marketing, promotions, and the business side of the music industry from some of the best in the business. As I am neither a professional musician nor an industry leader, I can only speculate with confidence that the words of advice given at this conference will prove further success for the Western music industry.
To cap off the weekend’s events, the Western Canadian Music Awards Gala was streamed live from Flames Central. The CBC’s Grant Lawrence hosted the event, complete with an occasional white cowboy hat and Flames jersey signed by Theo Fleury (Fleury would then make a guest appearance to a pleased crowd of apparent Flames fans in the audience).
Jann Arden was this year’s Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee. Using the wit and humor she’s known for, Arden took time to thank supporters and fans that helped her throughout her career.
Musical guests for the evening included Al Muirhead, Kytami, and Five Alarm Funk, among others. Musical guests and presenters contributed to an incredible cover of Jann Arden’s “Will You Remember Me” as the finale performance for the evening.
Kytami is best seen live! Cofounder of Delhi 2 Dublin plays the violin like no one else.
Winners for the 2013 Western Canadian Music Industry Awards were announced Saturday, October 5. They include:
Agency of the Year – Paquin Entertainment Group
Album Design of the Year – Wool on Wolves
Engineer of the Year – Johnny Gasparic
Independent Record Label of the Year – Royalty Records
Live Music Venue of the Year – Commodore Ballroom
Manager of the Year – Gilles Paquin
Producer of the Year – Andy Shauf
Talent Buyer of the Year – Derek Bachman
Video of the Year – Proctor Bros Industries – Nothing's Gonna Harm You – JP Hoe
Industry Builder Award – Holger Petersen
Heritage Award – Al Muirhead
Winners for the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards were also released later that evening. Those winners are:
Aboriginal Recording of the Year – Don Amero – Heart On My Sleeve
Blues Recording of the Year – Jack Semple – In the Blue Light
Children's Recording of the Year – Rick Scott THE GREAT GAZZOON – A Tall Tale With Tunes And Turbulence
Classical Composition of the Year – John Oliver – Forging Utopia
Classical Recording of the Year – Jason Cullimore – Cinematic Symphony and Gamescores
Country Recording of the Year – Gord Bamford – Is It Friday Yet?
Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year – Kytami – Kytami
Francophone Recording of the Year – Jill Barber – Chansons
Independent Album of the Year – Rah Rah – The Poet's Dead
Instrumental Recording of the Year – Mahogany Frog – SENNA
Jazz Recording of the Year – Erin Propp & Larry Roy – Courage, My Love
Metal/HardMusic Recording of the Year – KEN mode – Entrench
Pop Recording of the Year – Hannah Georgas – Hannah Georgas
Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year – Madchild – Dope Sick
Rock Recording of the Year – The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs
Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year – Jon and Roy – Let It Go
Roots Solo Recording of the Year – Del Barber – Headwaters
Songwriter(s) of the Year – Ewan Currie – The Sheepdogs
Spiritual Recording of the Year – Steve Bell – Keening For the Dawn
Urban Recording of the Year – DiRTY RADiO – Cassette
World Recording of the Year – Alex Cuba – Ruido En El Sistema
And of course, Jann Arden was named the 2013 Hall of Fame recipient.
If you are in the Winnipeg area, BreakOut West will be in your neck of the woods for 2014! Details to come soon on breakoutwest.ca.