Manitoba Shines During Prairie Music Week

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Local scene makes good – that’s the buzz after Manitoba artists walked away with the lion’s share of the hardware following September 29th’s Prairie Music Awards. Of the 18 awards handed out during the 4th annual awards show held at the Burton Cummings Theatre, Manitobans picked up a whopping14 Wheaties. Alberta’s Nickelback were the big winners overall, and took three awards: outstanding rock recording, best major-label album, and songwriter of the year. Winnipeg’s own Remy Shand also raked in two awards, picking up honours for outstanding pop recording and producer of the year. Both Nickelback and Shand were absent from the awards ceremony, but some terrific live performances by political Edmonton rap trio War Party, Saskatoon’s April Verch, Portage la Prairie Country quartet Doc Walker, and Winnipeg rockers Sonic Bloom gave the packed house more than their money’s worth, despite the absence of the big-name draws.

Here’s the breakdown on 2002’s award winners:
Major-label album: Silver Side Up, Nickelback
Independent album: Stranger, Nathan
Rock recording: Silver Side Up, Nickelback
Pop recording: The Way I Feel, Remy Shand
Country recording: Curve, Doc Walker
Roots recording: Sin & Other Salvations, The Wyrd Sisters
Classical recording: Klezmer Suite, Sid Robinovitch. Performed by Finjan, Saxology and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Jazz recording: Change Of Heart, Martha Brooks
Christian recording: Waiting For Aidan, Steve Bell
Dance/urban recording (tie): Inshaalha, Inshaalha and Sextronic, Fast Orange
Aboriginal recording: The Best of Winston Wuttunnee, Winston Wuttunnee
Instrumental recording: As Trees Walking, Mitch Dorge
Children's recording: All The Cats, Lulu & The Tomcat
Entertainer of the year: The Watchmen
Songwriter: Nickelback, for Silver Side Up
Producer: Remy Shand, for The Way I Feel
Video: The Evidence Comes From All Directions, by Duotang. Directed and produced by Darren Wall.
Hall of Fame award: Neil Young

The Awards show was the culmination of three and a half solid days of the Prairie Music Week conference and music festival, and was broadcast live across Canada on CBC Radio Two. Prior to the awards show, the PMW music festival showed off the best of prairie talent. Some 70 bands showcased in 10 downtown Winnipeg venues Thursday through Saturday nights – and how the crowds did come! The PMW office reports that close to 5000 people attended shows over the weekend, averaging some 1700 for each of the three nights. Packed venues like the Pyramid, the Royal Albert, the Empire, the West End Cultural Centre and Times Change(d) featured at least four different bands each night and gave enthusiastic audiences a taste of the finest in homegrown prairie talent.

The Hotel Fort Garry played host to this year’s conference which for the first time ran concurrently with Folk Alliance Canada’s annual “Folkmeet”. The FAC showcased an additional 15 acts from across Canada and put on its own conference component more specifically suited to the folk music industry. The two conferences paralleled nicely and offered a good mix of information and insight into the music industry as a whole. Artists, labels, managers, and festival directors from across the country and over the border were on hand to take in workshops and discussions on everything from radio programming to distribution deals to marketing to funding. A keynote address from Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies) and an interview-style discussion with Manitoba success-story Loreena McKennitt were just a few conference highlights for the hundreds of PMW and FAC delegates who filed through the Fort Garry’s elegant lobby.

By the end of the hugely successful weekend, it was clear that Winnipeg was another one of the big winners. With packed live music venues and a clear majority of local artists taking home awards, the city once again proved itself worthy of its long-standing reputation as one of Canada’s most thriving music centres.

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