2017 JUNO Awards. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Sarah McLachlan. The Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, On. April 2, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

Awards season has officially begun and it’s safe to say we’re well into the thick of it. While the US puts on a good show, let’s not forget about all the Canadian talent happening right within our very own borders, case in point: The JUNOs. With all the buzz around this year’s show, our founder Nicki Laborie attended and reported back to us on all the cool vibes of the weekend….

It’s been quite a year for Canada, what with our handsome Prime Minister coming into office and a controversial counterpart taking office south of the border. Suddenly, our country is the best place to live and the most beloved in the world. I say, “Here, here!” It’s about time Canadians weren’t constantly the brunt of niceness name-calling and instead were seriously admired because, honestly, we’re a bloody talented bunch!

This weekend marked the 46th Annual JUNO Awards; this year held in Ottawa, our nation’s capital. I decided I needed to have a little fun, and what better way to let loose than to attend the best Canadian concert of the year and to celebrate just how cool we really are. Not to mention, this year is our country’s 150th birthday, so I had a gut feeling this would be quite the weekend – and I wasn’t wrong.

The ViaRail JUNOExpress – seemingly inspired by the Shanghai Express – kicked off the weekend by getting some Toronto artists and notables to Ottawa. The rather rad train ride featured live music performances by the likes of Scott Helman and Neon Dreams, while also offering guests an elevated on-board food experience from Metro Ontario by chef Nick Liu. The vibe on the train was excited and rolled into Ottawa with an energy that stayed all weekend.

2017 JUNO Express. JUNO talent and crew riding the rails from Toronto to Ottawa. (Photo: CARAS\iPhoto).
2017 JUNO Express. Scott Helman performs on JUNO Express enroute to Ottawa. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

Many of the JUNO events were being held at some of our nation’s most beautiful buildings, an added coup for hosting this year’s Canadian music awards in Ottawa. The kick-off reception was held at the National Gallery of Canada on Sussex Drive. The impressive building hosted VIPs, music execs, and artists who all dressed to impress, wearing Canadian fashion proudly.

The energy in the city was magnified, as all the hot Ottawa spots were flanked by trendy characters looking for a chance to mingle with JUNO nominees – a nice change for the normally straight-laced, governmental city. That said, the music was the best part of the weekend – as it should be – and for those who may not have been privy to the big parties, JUNOFest was there to offer live music to all. Held at various venues across the city, music lovers could purchase a wristband for entry to any JUNO shows and got to listen live at intimate stages, making these experiences especially exclusive.

I was lucky enough to attend some pretty amazing parties and events, including the JUNO Gala on Saturday night. Tom Powers, of CBC’s Q radio show, kept the audience laughing as awards were handed out and special tributes were made. One that was especially inspiring was the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award given to Randy Lennox by his good friend Kiefer Sutherland. President of Universal Canada for 15 years, and now President of Bell Media, Lennox has been responsible for some of the biggest artists in the world including Hedley, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, The Tragically Hip, The Weeknd, and many others. Let’s just say, Canada has a lot more superstars than we typically can recall.

2017 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards. Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award recipient Randy Lennox. Introduced by Kiefer Sutherland. Shaw Centre, Ottawa, On. April 1, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).
2017 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards. Kiefer Sutherland introducing Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award recipient Randy Lennox. Shaw Centre, Ottawa, On. April 1, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

Later that evening was my personal highlight of the weekend: eOne hosted a party held at a wickedly apropos venue in Gatineau, where the Arkells played a Motown-inspired show. The lead singer of the Arkells, whose voice is even more impressive in person, showcased other JUNO nominees by bringing them on-stage to share the mic with him. With only a couple hundred people in the venue, this 3-hour performance exuded what the JUNOs are all about. Guests left sweaty from dancing and hoarse from singing along.

And then there was JUNO night. Held at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ottawa came out in herds to see the best concert of the year – and to try to rub shoulders with our hot Prime Minister, who managed to find the time to not only attend the JUNOs, but also film an opening with hosts Russell Peters and Bryan Adams. He also presented a special tribute to Leonard Cohen alongside his beautiful wife, Sophie, who was proudly dressed by Canadian design house Greta Constantine.

2017 JUNO Awards. Co-hosts Bryan Adams and Russell Peters. The Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, On. April 2, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).
2017 JUNO Awards. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie talk about Leonard Cohen and introduce tribute performance by Feist. The Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, On. April 2, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

The show itself was fabulous, ending too soon, and the broadcast didn’t do the performances justice. Sarah McLachlan’s and Bryan Adams’ performances were highlights for me (my age being so telling) with both closing the show with songs that reminded me of my earlier years.

2017 JUNO Awards. Bryan Adams performs “You Belong to Me”. The Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, On. April 2, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).
2017 JUNO Awards. Alessia Cara, members of Billy Talent, The Strumbellas, July Talk, Sarah McLachlin, White Horse and Arkells join Bryan Adams for “Summer of ’69” The Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, On. April 2, 2017. (Photo: CARASiPhoto).

Unfortunately, some JUNO winners – like Drake and The Weeknd – couldn’t attend even though they were both honoured with awards. Which begs the question: Why is it when Canadians make it big, they don’t make Canadian awards shows a priority? Surely they would have shown up to the Grammys… but ah well – that’s another article altogether.

What I will say is that I’m damned proud to be Canadian, and even prouder to see all the talent we’ve got in this country. Happy 150th Canada – the JUNOs were a great highlight in what is sure to be an energetic year of Canadian entertainment.

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Do you think Canada nailed it with the Juno Awards this year? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe