Call it home-field advantage.
Manitoba artists and industry professionals are up for 44 awards in 28 categories at the 12th annual Western Canadian Music Awards, which will be handed out at a gala at Winnipeg’s Club Regent Event Centre on Oct. 5.
Troubadour Del Barber is a three-time nominee this year on the strength of his latest, Prairieography, which is up for Independent Album of the Year as well as Roots Solo Recording of the Year along with Ruth Moody's These Wilder Things. Barber is up for Songwriter of the Year alongside fellow multiple nominees The Bros. Landreth, whose Let It Lie is also up for Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year. Roots Duo/Group is a traditionally strong one for Manitoba and this year is no exception. Sweet Alibi's We've Got to Go and Juno nominees Little Miss Higgins & The Winnipeg Five's Bison Ranch Recording Sessions are both nominated in that category.
Manitoba's Franco-Manitoban scene picked up four out of five nods in the Francophone Recording of the Year category. Pop artist marijosée, rapper Tresor Ezoman, children's act LuLu et le Matou and folk outfit Chez Willi are all vying for the award.
This province's Aboriginal music community also had a strong showing, picking up three out of five nominations in the Aboriginal Recording of the Year category. The nominees include Juno-nominated country singer/songwriter Desiree Dorion, indie rock act Federal Lights and pop singer/songwriter Cassidy Mann.
Indie electropop outfit Royal Canoe, fresh off a Juno nomination for Today We're Believers, is up for both Independent Album of the Year and Pop Recording of the Year. Imaginary Cities is also up for Pop Recording of the Year for Fall of Romance.
Manitoba's world music scene racked up three nods for World Recording of the Year, including a first-time nomination for the Mariachi Ghost, Victoria/Winnipeg-based Persian/western classical/jazz duo Moody Amiri and Brazilian jazz guitarist Marco Castillo, who won in the category in 2012.
Other artistic award nominees include The Perpetrators for Blues Recording of the Year; Madame Diva and Seanster and the Monsters for Children’s Recording of the Year; T. Patrick Carrabé for Classical Composition of the Year; Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with Isabel Bayrakdarian for Classical Recording of the Year; Iskwé for Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year; Jeff Preslaff for Jazz Recording of the Year; Noire for Metal/Hard Music Recording of the Year; and Moses Mayes for Urban Recording of the Year.
With a nod in all nine Industry Award categories, Manitoba's music industry entrepreneurs and music companies also have a strong showing. This year's nominees for Manager of the Year include Paquin Entertainment Group's Gilles Paquin (Del Barber, Bachman & Turner, Buffy Sainte-Marie) and Pipe & Hat's Tim Jones (Mise en Scene, The Revival, The Noble Thiefs). Pipe & Hat is also up for Independent Record Label, while Paquin received its 11th nomination for Agency of the Year.
The West End Cultural Centre and the Park Theatre are both up for Live Music Venue of the Year. The Winnipeg Folk Festival's Chris Frayer, the WECC's Jason Hooper and Union Sound Hall's David Schellenberg are all vying for Talent Buyer of the Year.
Past winner Cam Loeppky is up for Engineer of the Year while first-time nominee Rusty Matyas is nominated twice in the Producer of the Year category, sharing a nod with B.C.'s Howard Redekopp. Roberta Hansen was nominated for Album Design of the Year for her work on The Bros. Landreth’s Let It Lie while Milos Mitrovic is nominated for Video of the Year.
The WCMA gala is the culmination of BreakOut West, a celebration of the Western Canadian music scene that will run Oct. 2 through 5 at various venues in Winnipeg. The annual event features an industry conference as well as a three-day music festival at which 50 acts will showcase.
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.