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10 Junofest sets you need to see this Friday

The mammoth, two-night celebration of Canadian music that is Junofest is about to hit Hamilton, and we want to make sure you’re prepared. So we've picked 10 of the best artists and shows happening on Friday that you should absolutely check out. Music lovers, you’re about to have a crazy 48 hours.

Dozens of Juno nominees playing all over Hamilton Friday night

Hamilton expat Jeremy Fisher is just one of a horde of Juno nominees playing in the city for Junofest this weekend. (Rémi Thériault)

The mammoth, two-night celebration of Canadian music that is Junofest is about to hit Hamilton, and we want to make sure you’re prepared.

With multiple acts playing over 15 venues each night, there’s no way to get to every show in the city.

So CBC Hamilton has picked 10 of the best artists and shows playing on Friday that you should absolutely check out. Music lovers, you’re about to have a crazy 48 hours.

1. Emmanuel Jal at the Spice Factory

Emmanuel Jal saw his village burn down and his family torn apart as a child in Sudan – then he was raised in the grip of violence as a child soldier.

But he got out with the help of a British Aid worker, and channelled his energy into hip-hop. Jal’s story and the power of his words are remarkable – just watch this Ted Talk for proof.

Jal is captivating in an undeniable way, and this set is a must-see for fans of hip-hop or anyone with an interest in global issues and human rights. He’s also nominated for world music album of the year.

Jal plays at 11 p.m. on Friday at the Spice Factory on 121 Hughson St. N.

2. Blame it on Hamilton at the Hamilton Public Library

While a lot of people will duck in and out of Junofest shows to see their favourite artists across the city, this special showcase at the Hamilton Public Library carries enough cache to stay the whole night.

It features names like Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Ian Thornley from Big Wreck (whose grandparents were from Hamilton), Sarah Harmer, John Harvey from Monster Truck, Terra Lightfoot and more – all playing made in Hamilton songs as a celebration of the city’s heritage.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. at the library’s downtown branch. Tickets are $70, and are available from ticketscene.ca and the customer service desk at Central Library, as well as Picks and Sticks and Dr. Disc.

Organizers will also let in 50 JunoFest wristband-holders for standing room only space on a first come, first serve basis.

3. Jeremy Fisher and the HPO Brass Quintet at the Church of St. John the Evangelist

Continuing a tradition of collaboration between classical and contemporary music forged by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Boris Brott, the Arkells and Hachey the MouthPeace – this show brings together expat Hamiltonian Jeremy Fisher and the HPO brass quintet.

Fisher is nominated for a Juno this year on the back of a phenomenal new album called The Lemon Squeeze, and if history is any indication, collaborations with the HPO are almost always stellar.

Doors for the show open at 7 p.m., and it runs until 9:30 p.m.

4. Diana Panton at Gasworks

Jazz fans should look no farther than Diana Panton’s dulcet tones for their fix of mellow grooves on Friday night.

Panton is up for vocal jazz album of the year at the Junos, and with this voice, it’s hard to deny that she has a shot.

Panton is playing at Gasworks at 141 Park Street North at 9 p.m. The doors open at 7 p.m. with fellow Juno nominees Quartango playing at 8 p.m.

5. Steve Strongman at Bay City Music Hall

Blues aficionados need to head to Bay City Music Hall Friday night for this stellar blues showcase. It features Hamilton favourite Steve Strongman, who is a fixture in the city’s music scene and is up for blues album of the year this year.

Fellow Juno nominees JW Jones and Steve Hill are also playing, rounding out a lineup that would make anyone who’s into the blues giddy.

The doors open at 7 p.m. at Bay City Music Hall at 50 Leander Drive.

6. Outlaws and Gunslingers at This Ain’t Hollywood

This Six Shooter Records showcase promises to be one of the best of the weekend, and features Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Hachey the MouthPeace, Crystal Shawanda, Amelia Curran, Oh Susanna and more.

Roots rock darlings Harlan Pepper are sitting in as the house band too, and there’s lots of room here for some very special collaborations.

This show runs from 9 p.m. until the wee hours at 345 James Street North.

7. The Forgotten Rebels at Club Absinthe

It wouldn’t be a festival in Hamilton without a dose of seminal punk rock – one The Forgotten Rebels are only too happy to provide.

Mickey de Sadist and co. are joined by Tomi Swick, the Ascot Royals and Tobogganing advocate Laura Cole for the show.

The doors open at Club Absinthe at 38 King William Street at 8 p.m. and The Forgotten Rebels go on at midnight.

8. The Elwins and Fred Penner at The Casbah

Rock fans – So Down Low by the Elwins is one of the catchiest tunes you’ll be able to hear at Junofest, and you’d be well advised to check them out at the Casbah at midnight.

Iconic children’s entertainer and Juno nominee Fred Penner is opening the show, with bands like folk-rockers Sun K and Juno nominee The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer rounding things out alongside Grey Lands.

Doors at The Casbah at 306 King Street West open at 8 p.m., and the show runs until 2 a.m.

9. Joel Plaskett at New Vision United Church

East coast darling Joel Plaskett always puts on a fun live show, and this set will no doubt be one of the highlights of Junofest Friday night.

He’s joined by protégé Mo Kenney and Juno nominee Jenn Grant.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. at New Vision United Church at 24 Main Street West. The show runs from 8:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.

10. The Beaches at Baltimore House

Toronto all-girl rock band The Beaches will close out the night at Baltimore House Friday, and are a must-see for anyone who likes indie rock tinged with a little grit played by some very fashionable people.

They’re joined by Juno nominee Julien Sagot, The Dying Arts and The Medicine Hat – another act well worth checking out at the start of the night.

The doors open at Baltimore House at 43 King William Street on 8 p.m., with music starting at 9 p.m.

There you have it, Hamilton – 10 acts you should really check out on Friday night. Remember that set times can fluctuate in a big festival like this, especially as the night wears on.

You can find a complete Junofest schedule here. Fans can buy JunoFest wristbands for $30 on Ticketmaster, at the FirstOntario Centre box office, Dr. Disc and at JunoFest venues.

You can also purchase advance tickets to specific shows on ticketfly.com – but tickets are limited to accommodate wristband holders. Our advice is to get there early for any show or set you really want to see, as space will be very limited in some venues.

adam.carter@cbc.ca | @AdamCarterCBC

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