Get to know Juno breakthrough band nominee the Dead South

The Regina bluegrass band is riding high on the success of last year's viral music video.

The Regina bluegrass band is riding high on the success of last year's viral music video

The band's single 'In Hell He'll Be in Good Company' blew up in 2017 — it has almost 47 million views on YouTube. (Paquin Entertainment)

The Juno categories of breakthrough artist and group of the year have gone through a few different identities in their 44-year history, but what's never changed is the incredible pedigree of the categories' winners. A veritable who's who of now-established and future Canadian music industry icons have taken home these coveted Junos.

Breakthrough artist winners include Burton Cummings, k.d. lang, Colin James, Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Avril Lavigne, Michael Bublé, Feist, Drake, the Weeknd and Alessia Cara. The list of breakthrough group winners is equally star-studded: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Rush, Glass Tiger, the Tragically Hip, Nickelback, Alexisonfire, Said the Whale and A Tribe Called Red.

This year's crop of nominated artists and groups features an exciting and diverse array of musicians. From Toronto-based R&B singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez and Montreal-based electro-pop singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin to the Iqaluit-based folk-rock act the Jerry Cans and the Regina-based bluegrass band the Dead South, almost every music fan will find something to love in the nominees.

Think of the Junos as an opportunity to survey just a little bit more of the country's music scene, its depth and breadth, and then keep checking back every Thursday and Friday as CBC Music posts its handy primers for each artist and group, as well as some context to help deepen your appreciation of these great musicians.

Who:The Dead South.

Where: Regina, Sask.

Sound: Bluegrass and folk with grit.

Why they're nominated:Sure, they've been around since 2012, but the Dead South really hit its stride in the last few years when the band's single, "In Hell He'll Be in Good Company," blew up in 2017. The video has almost 47 million views on YouTube. The song is actually off of the Dead South's debut album, 2014's Good Company, which the band followed up on in 2016 with the record Illusion and Doubt.

The Dead South has gone through a few small lineup changes over the years and now includes Nate Hilts (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Scott Pringle (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Danny Kenyon (cello, vocals) and Eliza Mary Doyle (banjo, vocals), with Erik Mehlsen as the touring cellist. They've also toured a lot, building a fanbase one show at a time. "We've played a few thousand shows for sure," Hilts told SaskMusic in 2017. "A few thousand. Some days you just keep playing sets. Like tomorrow we actually play three."

Previously:Kenyon is actually an engineer and he continues to love that work, so Mehlsen tours with the Dead South and Kenyon remains at his job while also still being an official member of the band.

Fun fact:Hilts, Kenyon and Pringle were in school together all the way from kindergarten through high school.

Quote:"We're well aware that our live performances are much better than any recordings we've done before, not because of the recording process but when we play live, we like to come and bring an energy and perform for people. When you're in the studio, it can be hard to capture that. You're just staring into a blank room with nobody else around except the guys you're playing with." — Hilts to the Regina Leader-Post, 2016

'Delirium' (2017)

'In Hell I'll Be In Good Company' (2016)

'The Recap' (2014)

'Long Gone' (2013) 

Wherever you are in the world, you can watch the 2018 Juno Awards broadcast live from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver on March 25 at cbcmusic.ca/junos


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