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• His work with Artists for Peace and Justice
• UN Ambassadorship for The World Food Programme
Sunday, July 06, 2008
George and Jury
So, if you are like me, you recall you uttered some most unladylike language and then tried to create some legitimate sounding excuse why you could not serve. No dice. The judge is scary. You recall your father had endured the process not more than 2 months earlier. Although his number was pulled from the drum, the defence attorney didn’t take kindly to his conservative demeanour and he was bounced. Well done dad.
His sage advice? Honey – wear your most conservative suit. If your number is pulled and you have to make eye contact with the defendant? Stare at him like you want him to fry. So… it happens just as it should. Black suit, white blouse. Number pulled from the drum. Stare coldly at arson boy (or ALLEGED arson boy) like I KNEW in my bones the little bastard was guilty. Jury duty? Not that day, thank you very much. Sweet.
Jury duty of a distinctly different stripe can be both fun and rewarding – for jurors, artists and music lovers alike! It’s Polaris Music Prize time again – and for a musically schizophrenic type like myself it’s among the highlights of the year.
Founded in 2006 by former record Exec Steve Jordan, the Polaris Music Prize awards $20,000 to the top album of the calendar year. 185 jurors with no financial ties to any musicians; from all geographic regions of the country and representative of music experts, journalists from all media - television, radio, online radio, print and even music bloggers are selected. Hell – there’s even representation from MuchMusic and they barely play any music at all. But I digress.
Champions of quality music such as George Stroumboulopoulos, Grant Lawrence, Alan Cross are among the authorities selected by the Polaris Board of Directors to participate in the process.
Jurors submit their favourite 5 Canadian Albums released between June 1st, 2007 and May 31st 2008. There are no limits or restrictions on genre, labels or sales numbers. Selections are based on artistic merits only. From these results the Top 40 or 'Long List' is determined. Lather, rinse, repeat. The jury votes again, selecting their top 5 from the Long List to determine the top 10 from which the jury of 11 participants will determine the overall winner.
The Announcement of the short list will be aired live from Toronto's Drake Hotel on Monday, July 7th @ 11am EST on CBC Radio 3, hosted by Grant Lawrence.
Now, if you peruse the long list, you may see some omissions. Luke Doucet's - Blood's Too Rich is mine. Glaring.
2006 and 2007 nominees included heavy hitters like Broken Social Scene, Feist, The New Pornographers, Metric and the pride of Montreal - Patrick Watson - 2007's Winners!
The best byproduct of Polaris time is it serves to stimulate passionate debate and abundant
pride in the tremendous variety and depth of talent we enjoy in Canadian music. The long list allows you to root for your favourites and explore the few or perhaps numerous artists on the list you may not be familiar with.
I marvel at the list for the many that I have been fortunate to see perform live and those who's discs I have in my vast collection. Many fall into both categories. Again, musically schizophrenic - what of it? If you can see Buck65 perform at a small club one night, Kathleen Edwards perform in a traditional auditorium setting on another, Justin Rutledge in a 'listening room' and cap it off with Cancer Bats at a large, loud and decidedly sketchy venue... all good.
I have started to plow through the long list for a couple of bands I was not familiar with. Really liking The Acorn and Plants and Animals. In this era of Myspace - exploration is dead simple.
Might I also point out the obvious? It's summer! Prime touring time, festival season and a plethora of FREE music events across this beautiful country of ours. Take in as many shows as you can - many nominated artists of similar genres will perform together for a two fer or better. Buy a CD. Meet the artists. Congratulate them on pursuing their art, their dreams, their muse and creating the music that YOU love. Musical Christmas in July? You bet your ass.
Personally, I'm rooting for Buck65, Constantines, Basia Bulat, Kathleen Edwards, Cancer Bats, Justin Rutledge, Crystal Castles, The New Pornographers, Protest the Hero, The Weakerthans, Holy Fuck, Stars and Tegan and Sara. Ok... so that's 13 - I didn't profess to be strong in math.
For kicks, I've already started to compile my own list for 2009.
Based on the long list - who's missing? Who's YOUR favourite?
**Update** The SHORT list is out and includes 5 of my top 13...who would YOU vote for?
Check out the links to myspace pages on the Polaris Page HERE
Black Mountain - In The Future
Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling
Caribou - Andorra
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
Holy Fuck - LP
Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
Shad - The Old Prince
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs
The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Who've YOU seen LIVE that's not to be missed?
I wish you all an incredible summer filled with the sweet and perhaps the more angry, raw and not so sweet sounds found in the very best of Canadian Music...ENJOY!