Three local bands win WCMA hardware


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Three Manitoba acts have added Western Canadian Music Awards to their mantelpieces.

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Three Manitoba acts have added Western Canadian Music Awards to their mantelpieces.

Winnipeg trio Sweet Alibi was named Roots Artist of the Year, indie-pop group Royal Canoe won Rock Artist of the Year and instrumental electronic band Mahogany Frog received honours for Visual Media Composer of the Year at a ceremony held at the BreakOut West event in Calgary on Sept. 23.

Sweet Alibi, which includes Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Nielsen and Michelle Anderson, released its latest album, Make a Scene, in January, and the group has been making many scenes ever since.

On July 7, Sweet Alibi opened the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s mainstage, and in so doing, were the first artist to perform at the Birds Hill Provincial Park event since 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 fests.

“We are so grateful to be recognized for this album. We put a lot of work into it and we are so happy to be sharing the songs on the road with our audiences right now,” the band wrote in an email.

On social media, Sweet Alibi also thanked Make a Scene’s producers Matt Peters and Matt Schellenberg, who, when they aren’t playing keyboards and singing for Royal Canoe, have won awards under the nom de plume Deadmen.

“It’s great to see. They put so much time and energy into it,” Peters says of Sweet Alibi. “I know how hard they worked on it and they’ve got such great songs.”

Peters and Schellenberg, along with Bucky Driedger, Brendan Berg and Michael Jordan earned Royal Canoe’s latest WCMA — the band last won in 2014 — owing to two new records, 2021s Sidelining and Vault (2011-2021), a batch of unreleased songs and demos that were reworked for a 2022 release.

Mahogany Frog’s video for the track Faust, the title track on its 2022 album, turns back the clock to both the Expressionist era of the 1920s as well as the early hard-rock era of the late 1960s.

The album is a score set to the 1926 silent film Faust by German director F.W. Murnau, but the instrumental track by Graham Epp, Jesse Warkentin, Scott Ellenberger and Andy Rudolph is a mixture of fuzzed-out power chords reminiscent of early Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar solos and feedback.


From left: Sweet Alibi’s Amber Nielsen, Jess Rae Ayre and Michelle Anderson won a WCMA for Roots Artist of the Year.

The video is pure psychedelia, like looking at the band’s performance through photographic negatives or using the inverted filter on graphics editing software.

It was Mahogany Frog’s second WCMA. The group won previously in 2013.

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

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Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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