YYC Music Awards attempts to honor local musicians
Calgary’s first awards night has shaky start
By Paul McAleer, Contributor
A quick Google search on famous musicians with Calgarian origins yields embarrassing results. There are only a handful of names, most notably Paul Brandt, Tegan and Sara, and Feist, yet sometimes even these artists are forgotten in the grand scheme of the music industry. Names like these can make you wish that Calgary produced more artists that were truly substantial.
On Sept. 25, Calgary awarded a bunch of musicians that you probably haven’t heard of. No, that doesn’t mean the YYC Music Awards predominantly focused on hipster bands with dedicated and ironically vast fan bases, but rather on artists that were truly unknowns. While it is great to shine the spotlight on these artists, critics of the YYC Music Awards wondered if such an event was even necessary.
The answer depends on whether or not the organizers make critical improvements to the awards show. There needs to be a greater variety of artists and not just the generic ones that play the type of music that’s expected of them. There needs to be more seating for the general public as 90% of people at The National Music center were artists and their family and friends. There needs to be rehearsals to minimize the hiccups that disrupted the flow of the event.
Most importantly, there needs to be an effort to be more innovative than the Juno Awards or even the Grammys, regardless of budget. It would have been great if the YYC Music Awards opted for a different formula other than live performances followed by the presentation of awards. The least they could’ve done is made a short montage of the nominated artists instead of just reading out the names.
That being said, it wasn’t terrible.
Held at the beautiful, recently birthed Studio Bell, the YYC Music Awards featured over fifteen award categories and six live performances ranging from jazz to metal. It also featured an awkward video from Naheed Nenshi, who was obviously too cool to attend, basically saying: “Music is great! Calgary is great for music and things!”
The whole event was live-streamed by Shaw to an audience of less than 1,500 people at the time of writing. At the beginning of the show the host instructed the crowd of when to clap and to remain in their seats until the intermission, making the entire event feel very legitimate if only for a couple of fleeting moments.
The best parts of the show were the unexpected acts performing and taking home awards. The metal group Divinity delivered a loud and energized performance that is probably still echoing through the corridors of Studio Bell. On the other side of the spectrum, Al Muirhead and crew showed a tremendous amount of skill with their jazz performance, featuring brilliant solos from each member of the group. The Static Shift thanked their producer (A.K.A Their Dad) and couldn’t believe they won Rock Recording of the Year when none of them are over 18 years old. Debra Power, an older lady, was speechless when she won Blues Recording of the Year and her acceptance speech was extremely endearing.
Although the impact and the influence of the YYC Music Awards is limited now, it is the start of something that could be amazing for local artists if it makes the effort to be. Who knows, maybe the event will find a way to launch a name or two onto that list of notable artists from Calgary. God knows we need some more.