Hamilton acts up for Polaris Music Prize

The 2012 Polaris Music Prize shortlist includes doom metal, hip hop, roots rock, and Hamiltonians.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are among the 40 bands up for the Polaris Music Prize. (Mike Tompkins/Canadian Press)

The 2012 Polaris Music Prize shortlist includes doom metal, hip hop, roots rock, and Hamiltonians.

The Polaris Prize is awarded to artists who showcase creativity and diversity in Canadian music. It's supposed to focus on artistic integrity instead of musical genre or sales history.

Roots rock stalwarts Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are on the list, getting the nod for their latest album, Kings and Queens.

"It's great to see them on the top 40 list," said Hamilton-based Polaris judge Graham Rockingham. "I've been big on Blackie and the Rodeo Kings for a long time."

The prize is selected by a panel of over 200 judges across Canada, and The Hamilton Spectator's Rockingham is one of them.

Judges will whittle down the 40 groups and musicians on the long list to 10 shortlisted finalists, and a winner will be crowned from there.

The winning artist or band takes home $30,000.

"A lot of these records are records that people haven't heard, but should hear," Rockingham said. "Theyre all deserving acts that people may not know."

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings isn't the only band on the long list with a Hamilton connection — songstress Kathleen Edwards is also on there for Voyageur.

Even though Edwards is now mostly splitting her time between Toronto and Wisconsin, most of the record was written in Hamilton.

Then there's the all female doom-metal two-piece Mares of Thrace. They're from Calgary, but signed to Hamilton-based label Sonic Unyon.

The city has had a storied history with the relatively new prize — Hamilton-based electronic act Caribou won the top $30,000 honour in 2008.

Burlington native Sarah Harmer was on the short list in 2006 and Hamilton's Junior Boys were also there in 2007.

You can listen to other great Hamilton artists on the CBC Hamilton playlist, here.