With the Juno buzz last weekend, it’s a great feat that the Edmonton Music Awards, taking place the same night, managed to sell out and stand out.
The awards, organized by local record label Oddball Productions, succeeded at taking over The Haven Social Club on March 27 and 28.
And while scheduling it to coincide with the Junos was an accident, so was the idea of the Edmonton Music Awards in the first place.
“We actually tried our best to avoid the Junos, they are usually the first week of April, so we thought we were safe, until we announced it,” laughs Danny Fornier, founder of Oddball Productions.
“The turnout was still really good. I don’t want to say we’re competing with the Junos, but the fact that there was a major awards show and we still had a packed house — that’s awesome.”
It would seem that Fornier has stumbled into many fortunate situations around the Edmonton music scene.
He’s done everything from accidently starting a label, to accidently starting the first-ever annual Edmonton Music Awards simply by being so bothered Edmonton didn’t already have one.
“I’m crazy,” says Fornier, attributing the awards to his own eccentrics.
“I don’t want to say (coming up with Edmonton Music Awards) was easy, but it’s something I always found weird we didn’t do. I basically said, ‘Screw em’, I’m going to do it!”
“I was even talking to my dad and he said, ‘We have a Prince Albert one’,” laughs Fornier, who doesn’t understand why cities in Saskatchewan and places like Nanaimo beat Edmonton to the punch.
Fornier says the Edmonton Music Awards is a great way for bands to network and for that feeling of music-hype to continue well into the festival season.
From his industry standpoint, the Edmonton Music Awards brings nothing but benefits to the community.
“I heard bands talking about doing shows together, and for me, that’s great,” he admits.
“It’s great to see the Edmonton music community all together.”
Though Fornier is a huge supporter of the Edmonton music scene, he’ll be one of the first — and one of the only — to voice that there are still major problems with the way the scene operates.
“No comment,” he jokes at first when asked about how he feels, opening up later to add more.
“I have very, very mixed feelings about the Edmonton scene having been in all aspects for it; major label rep., playing in a local band, to now owning my own independent record label.”
“I grew up as a rock kid watching the L.A. and the Seattle scenes take off, and the thing I like about those scenes was you always heard about how they were supporting each other and working the best together,” Fornier admits, adding he doesn’t feel that Edmonton operates that way despite the nation and major labels keep waiting for it to explode.
“That’s always been my beef with Edmonton. There’s always been so much talent in this city but it all seems to be little pocket-groups. The pocket groups do really well for the pocket groups, but if there was more of a stronger community, it would be amazing.”
It’s that spirit of collaboration the Edmonton Music Awards hoped to infuse within the City of Champions.
Both nights had a wonderful array of musical performances, with Colleen Brown standing out the second evening and Wool on Wolves winning two awards for best group and best roots/folk artist, as determined by Oddball Productions.
Some of the awards were chosen by the community, an interesting dynamic Fornier admits. Some of these awards include Jeff Morris winning best live performance, for a show he played at the old Axis Café on Jasper Avenue in 2010.
“It was cool to see who the public wanted to win. All the nominees are great, I think for me, Jeff Morris (stood out) because I had never heard of him before but he preformed and it went really well,” says Fornier.
The People’s Choice award went to The Red Threat and Erica Viegas was voted as the Artist to Watch.
For a complete list of the award winners visit http://www.oddballproductions.ca/Edmontonmusicawards