Monday, November 21, 2011


So, I am home and it is over.  It's been another fun-filled trip to Hamilton for the annual Hamilton Music Awards, and as always, after four such trips, I marvel at how connected I feel to the city's music scene and the dozens of friends I have made there.  The culmination of the conference was Sunday night's awards show, and the after-parties that continued long into Monday morn.  On a night bittersweet due to the Tiger Cat's disappointing loss to Winnipeg, it gave several hundred music fans a reason to be cheerful, and a lot of great live music.

Oh, and I got a job offer.  Co-host of the awards show, along with comic Shelley Marshall, was local rock godfather Tom Wilson.  Wilson and I have squared off at this gig each time, mostly over his mangling of the pronunciation of my last name.  I've had to resort to using him as a comedy punching bag, leaving him staggering and acknowledging my superior abilities.  Last night, he simply gave in to the inevitable, and told his band mate in Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Colin Linden, that he wants me to join the group, complete with my own Nudie Suit to match the trio's.  I'll act as some sort of MC, I guess.  I appreciate Tom's offer, but judging from Colin's facial expression and lack of enthusiasm, I'm guessing there's going to have to be a band meeting about this.

Blackie did perform at the Awards last night (without me), as did others from the cream of Hamilton's music scene.  Doing his first big hit, Painted Ladies, was Hamilton native, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Ian Thomas.  On hand to help present the award was his great friend, and colleague from Lunch At Allen's, Murray McLauchlan.  That allowed me to have a catch-up with Denise Donlan, who is married to McLauchlan, who was one of the contributors to The Top 100 Canadian Singles book.  She's been one of the major players in Canadian music, in her executive positions with MuchMusic, Sony Music and CBC Radio.  One of the artists she helped while with Sony was Jeremy Fisher, who also wowed the crowd with his live performance.  The sidelines were also filled with presenters and musicians straining to get looks at new acts with big buzz, hard rockers Monster Truck, and alt-country comers The Dinner Belles.

I particularly enjoyed another friend getting an award.  Each year the HMA's honours someone from behind the scenes in the music industry who hails from Hamilton, who has made a major contribution over their career.  This time it went to music executive Kim Cooke, who I first met during his time with Warner Music.  In his 24 years at the label he signed up several major acts in the country such as The Odds, Great Big Sea, Sarah Slean and Colin James.  Since he left that company, he's worked with Maple Music, and now has his own label, Pheromone Records, where Slean and The Odds showed their loyalty by rejoining him.  He also just opened up Revolution Recording in Toronto, a new glowing and shiny studio that's the buzz of the tech side of things.  Most importantly, he's a gem of a guy.

As for the trophies, it was Fisher who took the night, with three awards, including Album Of The Year, Male Vocalist, and Songwriter, all for his latest album, Flood.  The Dinner Belles took Best New Group, and Alternative Country Recording of the Year, and the group's keyboard player, Greg Brisco, took the honour for that instrument.  Blues singer Rita Chiarelli, took Female Artist and Best Blues.  Monster Truck grabbed Rock Recording of the Year.

If you have a desperate desire to see me hand out two of the awards, as well as display some of the scintillating wit that has so captivated Tom Wilson, the awards show is televised in a couple of weeks.  You might also like to catch some of the excellent music performances.  It's going to be on CHCH TV, which is available across the country to Bell Satellite viewers, since I get it here in Fredericton.  It's going to air Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 PM Eastern time. 

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