‘Tobans triumph again

Metal mavens KEN Mode, roots group Wailin' Jennys break province's drought

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OTTAWA -- KEN Mode has made it to the Juno Awards history books.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/04/2012 (3793 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — KEN Mode has made it to the Juno Awards history books.

The Winnipeg band is the first-ever winner of the new Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year award, beating out sentimental favourite Anvil on the strength of their fourth album, Venerable. It was Manitoba’s first Juno award since 2009.

“This one’s for Winnipeg,” vocalist-guitarist Jesse Matthewson said onstage in accepting the award before going on to thank a list of people and organizations such as Manitoba Music and Manitoba Film & Music for supporting the band.

Curran Faris-handout / The Canadian Press Andrew LaCour, (from left) Jesse Matthewson and Shane Matthewson of KEN Mode, credited hard work on the road for helping earn their Juno win.

Backstage, the trio — Matthewson, his brother Shane Matthewson (drums) and bassist Andrew LaCour — said the award was a validation of the metal genre and the long hours they’ve spent on the road.

“It means a lot for us. It was more the past 12 months of hard work touring, we spent a good seven months on the road in Europe, the States and Canada,” Shane said. “The Juno, we never thought we would get. It’s kind of an acknowledgment of the work we put in to working on the record.”

“I feel Canada has a metal legacy that has gone unnoticed in the mainstream media; that bands like Voivod have not been recognized by the Junos is a shame. I think it’s time Canada woke up to the less savoury styles of art,” Jesse added.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS The Wailin' Jennys backstage with their Juno for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group for their album Bright Morning Stars in Ottawa Saturday.

KEN Mode was one of two local acts who won awards Saturday as the Wailin’ Jennys won in Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group for their third album, Bright Morning Stars.

It is the second time the Jennys have won the award — they also took home the prize in 2005 for their debut, 40 Days.

Their past accomplishments weren’t enough to prevent them from being surprised to hear their name called, though.

“We’re completely shocked. It was a really amazing list of nominees. We’re in great company. It may sound clichéd, but it really is an honour to be in the that company,” said Ruth Moody.

“The roots scene in Canada is so incredibly strong. To get a nomination at all is an honour. To actually win is amazing,” Nicky Mehta said.

The Jennys — which also includes Heather Masse — captivated the audience at the event with their a cappella version of Light of a Clear Blue Morning during the In Memoriam segment honouring people who have died in the past year.

Thirty-four of the 41 Juno Awards were handed out at Saturday’s 31/2-hour gala hosted by the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi. Toronto indie-songstress Feist took home two awards, winning Adult Alternative Album of the Year for Metals and music DVD of the year for Look at What the Light Did Now.

“I really didn’t know this category was up tonight, so I’m a little shocked,” she said, echoing a common sentiment.

The only other multiple award-winner was Saskatoon rock group the Sheepdogs who took home glass statues for New Group and Rock Album of the Year for Learn & Burn. The Rolling Stone cover contest winners are on tour and didn’t attend the show.

In some other high-profiled categories, Adele’s 21 was named International Album of the Year; Hedley’s Storms won Pop Album of the Year; Terri Clark’s Roots and Wings beat out Doc Walker in the Country Album category; Drake’s sophomore effort Take Care won Rap Recording of the Year but he wasn’t there to accept it; Melanie Fiona won the R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for Gone and Never Coming Back; Murray Porter beat out Winnipeg’s Bruthers of Different Muthers for Aboriginal Album for Songs Lived & Life Played, Bruce Cockburn’s Small Source of Comfort was named Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Solo; and Ottawa’s MonkeyJunk won Blues Album of the Year for To Behold.

The biggest upset of the night was Hamilton band the Arkells, who took home the Group of the Year award over heavyweights Nickelback, Hedley, Down With Webster and the Sam Roberts Band.

The band won the best new group Juno in 2010.

“We’re excited (about) all the vitriol from Hedley fans on Twitter who are going to be angry,” vocalist-guitarist Max Kerman joked. “It’s like March Madness: we’re the 15th seed beating the second seed. We’re going to go all the way.”

One of the best quotes of surprise came from Producer of the Year winner Brian Howe (Hedley, Nickelback), who beat out k.d. lang, Bob Rock and David Foster for his work on Michael Bublé’s Christmas album.

“Holy crap, I thought for sure Jingle Bells was going to kick my ass tonight. How do you compete with that?” he said.

In typical Canadian style, the majority of the artists were humble in their acceptance speeches.

“This award is for all of us. Aboriginal artists around the world have something to say,” said Porter, while accepting the aboriginal award.

“I really, really, really did not expect this — every band in the category I’m a huge fan of. I’m blown away,” a beaming Dan Mangan said after winning the Alternative Album award against tough competition: F–ked Up, Destroyer, Braids and Timber Timbre.

Montreal pop-rock group Simple Plan was given the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for their charitable efforts, notably the Simple Plan Foundation, which has raised $1 million for young people in need and supports people with life-threatening illnesses.

“I think the message we’re putting out there is you don’t have to wait until you are 40, 50 or 60 to do something. I think the world would be a better place if we all make a little time and a little effort,” vocalist Pierre Bouvier said in the media room.

Slaight Communications president/philanthropist Gary Slaight was given the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for his contributions to the Canadian music industry.

Tonight’s televised awards show from Scotiabank Place will air locally on CTV at 8 p.m. with the remaining seven awards for Artist, Fan Choice, Single, Songwriter, New Artist, Dance Recording and Album of the Year handed out.

The majority of the broadcast will feature live performances from a cross-section of artists including Blue Rodeo, Nickelback, Sarah McLachlan, Hedley, Feist, Deadmau5, City and Colour, Hey Rosetta, K’Naan, Lights, MC Flipside and Simple Plan. Blue Rodeo will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Actor William Shatner is the host.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

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