Including Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, who isn’t actually up for any awards for himself or his band. He’ll be in town this weekend to captain the musician’s squad for this year’s JUNO Cup at the Downtown Community Arena. It’s a position he’s held for more than a decade, and a tradition he’s been part of from before it was even affiliated with the JUNOs.
Players on both sides have shifted through the years, but Cuddy can count on a number of repeats, including Michael Hollett of Next Magazine in Toronto and former New York Islander Brad Dalgarno. He describes the game as a “mismatch,” with the musicians only winning twice, last in 2018. Cuddy’s team may not have the skill of the pro side, which features such players as ex-Oiler Fernando Pisani, but he can count on a roots-rocking roster adept at stickhandling and songwriting.
“(Singer-songwriter) Julian Taylor’s a good player,” he notes with pride. “Our core defenseman now would be Mike Belitsky of The Sadies. He’s a very good player, as is (Sadies bassist) Sean Dean, who will be a tenacious and heartless forward.”
Beyond the game, Edmonton will be stacked with Juno-related events this weekend from Fan Fare at West Edmonton Mall to the Junior JUNOs, a concert series with dozens of artists, two major award ceremonies and more.
Here’s the countdown to Monday’s JUNO Awards, starting this Thursday:
Juno Week Official Launch
When March 9, 11:45 a.m.
Where Edmonton City Hall Atrium
Tickets Free to attend
The JUNO fun kicks off in earnest on Thursday with performances by 6 Minute Warning and 2023 JUNO Nominees The McDades at the Atrium in City Hall. It wouldn’t be a festival unless some civic authority offered the key to the city, and while there won’t be an actual key at the event, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi will be giving an official speech proclaiming Edmonton JUNO Week.
When March 9 at 7 p.m.
Where Soho, 11452 Jasper Ave.
Tickets $10 suggested donation to MusiCounts
Together YEG features a six-band bill playing for MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. It’s a grab bag of Alberta talent, featuring such acts as three-time JUNO nominated pop and R&B singer-songwriter Nuela Charles and indie-soul crooner Aladean Kheroufi. The Spaniard, Stephanie Harpe Experience, Von Bieker and Halcyon Gray round out the evening.
When Through March 12
Where Various Venues
Tickets Free to ticketed
More than 50 artists from across Canada set up shop in venues around the city for three days during JUNOfest. There’s a wealth of talent, including Cadence Weapon at the Common, Meisha & the Spanks at Rocky Mountain Icehouse, and Cancer Bats leading a hard rock bill at the Buckingham. Guaranteed there’s something to your taste in the schedule, which you can find at Junoawards.ca.
JUNO Comedy show
When March 10, 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., and 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.
Where Rapid Fire Theatre, 10437 83 Ave.
Tickets Sold Out
Hosted by veteran comic Cory Mack, the JUNO Comedy Show takes place at the newly-opened Old Strathcona headquarters for Rapid Fire Theatre in the old Telephone Historical Information Centre. Comedy Album of the Year nominees Courtney Gilmour, Jackie Pirico, Jon Dore, Matt Wright and Zabrina Douglas are tasked with the duty of tickling funnybones during two separate sets, which is probably why this event is already sold out.
JUNO Opening Night Awards
When March 11, 6 p.m. local MST
Where Edmonton Convention Centre, 9797 Jasper Ave.
This is where the bulk of the JUNOs are handed out, more than 40 awards with accompanying performances from Devon Cole, Dylan Sinclair, Jean-Michel Blais and The Bearhead Sisters. The in-memoriam presentation features a collaborative performance by Corb Lund, with The Sadies and Shannon Johnson from The McDades. Check out the live stream at cbcmusic.ca/junos.
When March 12, 12 p.m.
Where Stanley A. Milner Library, 7 Sir Winston Churchill Sq.
Tickets Sold Out
What are the odds of getting together the nominees for the 2023 Children’s Album of the Year? Pretty good, actually. Beppie, Garth Prince, Splash ‘N Boots and Maestro Fresh Wes Presents: Young Maestro and Keysha Freshh are among the live performers, with a virtual appearance from Jeremy & Jazzy at this year’s Junior JUNOs’ live performance.
When March 12, 1-3 p.m.
Where Edmonton’s Downtown Community Arena, Rogers Place, 10245 105 Ave.
Tickets Starting at $16.34 from Junoawards.ca
As mentioned in the top paragraph, a team of musicians captained by Jim Cuddy battle a group of ex-professional athletes for the glory of holding the JUNO Cup. Other musicians taking part include Jonny Gallant (Billy Talent) and Andrew Usenik of Edmonton’s Ten Second Epic, while the former pros number ex-Oiler Ben Scrivens, MacEwan Griffins veteran Claire Hobbs, as well as former college star and current Oilers executive assistant in hockey operations Tania Kenny among them. All money goes to MusiCounts.
When March 12, 1-3 p.m.
Where Centre Stage, Phase 1, West Edmonton Mall
Tickets Sold Out
Tickets are already gone for this meet-and-greet at West Edmonton Mall, featuring a number of up-and-coming Canadian stars. Chopped up into hour-long sessions, Fan Fare brings together the JUNO Award-winning Tenille Townes, dance-pop artist Rêve, singer-songwriters Tyler Shaw, Preston Pablo and Devon Cole, as well as producers Banx & Ranx. Hosted by Virgin Radio’s Luke Rodriguez, Fan Fare takes place at Centre Stage if you still want to head down and catch an eyeful.
When March 12, 7 p.m.
Where Winspear Centre
Tickets $34.45 and up, available from the Juno site
Speaking of Tenille Townes, the pride of Grande Prairie will be part of this year’s annual JUNO Songwriters’ Circle, trading songs and stories with fellow artists Dan Mangan, Adria Kain, Lauren Spencer Smith, The Reklaws, The Bros. Landreth, Tyler Shaw and Wild Rivers. The show will be broadcast across Canada on Monday, March 13, on CBC Radio One at 1 p.m. and on CBC Music at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.