Manitoba Wins Big at Western Canadian Music Awards

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Manitoba artists were big winners at the Western Canadian Music Awards, held in Calgary on October 3. Local talent brought home nine trophies from the 2nd annual gala event, second only to British Columbia in wins. Homegrown industry professionals also scored big, with four awards. The powerful Manitoba artistic talent and industry had been nominated for a collective 33 awards in 20 categories.

Big winners included an upset for country quintet Doc Walker, which was named Entertainer of the Year over heavyweights Sarah McLachlan, Nickelback, Nelly Furtado, and Michael Bublé. Doc Walker also took home a “Wheatie” – as the trophy is affectionately called - for Outstanding Country Recording for the band’s latest effort, Everyone Aboard. The night adds to the band’s already impressive list of awards, including a recent win at the Canadian Country Music Awards for Band of the Year.

Winnipeg punk poets The Weakerthans also took home two awards, won for their Epitaph Records release Reconstruction Site, which was named Outstanding Independent Album. Singer/lyricist John K. Samson was named Songwriter of the Year, against stiff competition from big hitters Sarah McLachlan and Jann Arden.

Local folk darlings The Wailin’ Jennys took home an award for Outstanding Roots Recording for 40 Days, Big Dave McLean’s Blues from the Middle won Outstanding Blues Recording, composer Robert Turner’s Third Symphony was named Outstanding Classical Composition, and childen’s faveourite LuLu & The TomCat’s 3,2,1 Kadoozee was named Outstanding Children’s Recording. Former Winnipegger Marilyn Lerner also took home the award for Outstanding Jazz Recording for her work with Sonny Greenwich on Special Angel.

The Industry Awards, held on October 2, also showed off the strength of Manitoba’s music scene, honouring four of Manitoba’s prominent industry professionals. Former Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival Rick Fenton was named Talent Buyer of the Year. The popular West End Cultural Centre lived up to its national reputation as a great venue, winning Venue of the Year, while Paquin Entertainment picked up an award as Agency of the Year. Graphic artist Mike Carroll and acclaimed artist Marcel Dzama also got nods for for Best Album Design for their work on The Weakerthans’ Reconstruction Site.

The Western Canadian Music Awards include nominees from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon. The gala evening, hosted by former Winnipegger Bif Naked, included live performances from Manitoba acts Burnt, Doc Walker, and The Wailin’Jennys.

The awards were the culmination of the four days conference and music festival, held in premier venues in downtown Calgary. Numerous Manitoba acts showcased at this year’s festivities, vying for attention from international industry bigwigs, including The Harlots, Vanderveen, Tin Foil Phoenix, Jet Set Satellite, Paper Moon, Novillero, Jodie Borle, Easily Amused, Foster Martin Band, Nathan, Kraink, das macht SHOW!, Mood Ruff, Burnt, Jaylene Johnson, and Projektor.

The 3rd Annual Western Canadian Music Awards will take place in Vancouver, October 20 to 23, 2005.

For more information on the WCMAs, please visit www.westerncanadianmusicawards.ca.

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