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This year’s Junofest stacked with nominees

March 24th, 2011 · No Comments

By Karen Bliss

After moving around the country for the past nine years, the Junos will be back in Toronto on March 27th for their 40th anniversary show. As part of the week-long celebration, JunoFest will take over downtown this weekend with 120 acts—more than 50 of them Juno nominees—playing 20 venues.

“I believe we broke a record for JunoFest for booking Juno-nominated bands,” says Jeff “JC” Cohen, co-owner of Toronto’s Collective Concerts, who was hired by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) to book the music festival. “We really focused on making it very heavy on nominees. We even got Christian and Aboriginal nominees.”

“[CARAS] told us to pick our favourite bands. We got some of them, not all of them, but we tried. They told us to book as many nominees as possible and they also told us to keep it as Toronto as you possibly can. It’s supposed to be showing off Toronto [talent], but I included Montreal because they haven’t had a Junos yet.”

Unlike Canadian Music Week or North By Northeast, JunoFest books less acts that play longer sets. “The headline act is doing 90-minutes, as opposed to the usual 40,” explains Cohen. “It’s booked less like a festival and more like a club crawl with regular nights at the venues.”

Cohen added that for the first time advance tickets are available for some of the larger shows. We’ve compiled a couple of shows to look out for in our coverage area. On the 25th, Flash Lightnin’, a Southern rock trio from Toronto, playing the Bovine  Sex Club. A line up of singer songwriters will also be playing that night. Canadian music veteran Emm Gryner, Songwriter of the Year nominee Royal Wood, and acoustic pop duo Dala will be performing at The Great Hall. Also worth a listen that night are Young Empires at the Drake, Grapes of Wrath at the El Mocambo, Brett Caswell & The Marquee Rose at The Garrison, and D-Sisive, Said The Whale, and Justin Rutledge at the Horseshoe.

The festival continues on March 26, including music from Moncton singer-songwriter Julie Doiron at The Garrison, folk artist  Basia Bulat at the Great Hall, indie group Dearly Beloved at the Rivoli, and country rock trio Elliott Brood at The Horseshoe.

“Being a part of Juno weekend is pretty amazing in itself,” says country artist and Juno nominee Dean Brody who plays the El Mo on the 26th, “but looking ahead to my Junofest show on Saturday night is a real bright spot because it’s post Gala Awards and the pressure of the impending award will be off and we will be ready to go. Fresh back from Australia, myself and my band will use that rockin’ 75-minute set to keep the party going. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Check the website for up-to-date venues and times. For $30, wristbands (available at or 1-855-985-5000) grant access to all the JunoFest shows. Many are restricted to ages 19 and over. Advance tickets are available through Ticketmaster or in person at the Horseshoe, Soundscapes, and Rotate This.

Karen Bliss is an Annex-based music journalist and the co-author of Music from Far and Wide: Celebrating 40 Years of the JUNO Awards.


Tags: Liberty · Arts