Self-proclaimed 'mainstream' Nickelback reigns at Junos

After starting this year's Juno Award festivities with a leading number of nominations, Alberta rockers Nickelback ended on top as well, winning three coveted trophies in Vancouver on Sunday night.
Nickelback celebrate their trophy for group of the year at the Juno Awards in Vancouver on Sunday. ((Jeff McIntosh/Candian Press) )
After starting this year's Juno Award festivities with a leading number of nominations, Alberta rockers Nickelback ended on top as well, winning three coveted trophies in Vancouver on Sunday night.

Vancouver's adopted sons, originally from Hanna, Alta., kicked off the Canadian music awards celebration with a pyrotechnics-laden performance of their song Something in Your Mouth.

They proceeded to win group of the year and the publicly voted fan choice award, before closing out the night with album of the year for their bestselling Dark Horse.

We are a very mainstream band…. But that's OK, because our fans like that kind of music, and that's who we're making music for.

"We have been doing this for awhile now, since '96, and to win this — group of the year — is absolutely amazing," Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger said as he accepted the trophy for best group.

"The press are gonna have a field day with this tomorrow," he later quipped as the band took the stage for its third trophy.

"We are a very mainstream band that's not popular among the press," Kroeger expanded backstage. "But that's OK, because our fans like that kind of music, and that's who we're making music for."

Sam Roberts was named artist of the year, but he shared the limelight with his band.

Comedian Russell Peters, hosting the Junos for a second time on Sunday, poked fun at musicians in attendance. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))
"This award is for artist of the year, but as you can clearly see, we are Sam Roberts: me and my bandmates," the Montrealer said.

Roberts, whose Love at the End of the World also won best rock album over the weekend, gave a shout-out to his fellow nominees.

"I'd be crazy not to acknowledge the fact that we are in outstanding company for this award," he said. "It's truly an honour and just mind-blowing to be in your company tonight."

Alongside Roberts, double-winners over the weekend included fellow Montrealers The Stills (best new group, alternative album for Oceans Will Rise) and Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall (best rap recording for Not 4 Sale and single of the year for Dangerous ).

"Next year, [organizers should] do 90 per cent hip hop and only 10 per cent lifetime achievement awards to Nickelback — you can only give them so many awards," the rapper joked in a video acceptance speech from Europe before congratulating the Vancouver band.

Early winners

Comedian Russell Peters, who won a Gemini Award for hosting the 2008 Junos, returned for a second gig as master of ceremonies, making his entrance amid in a Bollywood-inspired dance number before switching to breakdancing.

Indie-pop singer-songwriter Valerie Poxleitner, who performs under the name Lights, poses with her Juno Award for best new artist. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))
Peters proceeded to launch into an opening monologue that quickly skewered Nickelback, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Phelps, former Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page, Anne Murray and Loverboy. Crooner Michael Bublé also joined Peters for a skit later in the evening.

The first award of the evening was for songwriter of the year, with k.d. lang and Buffy Sainte-Marie presenting it to Dallas Green, who performs solo as City and Colour. Green is also the frontman of rock outfit Alexisonfire.

Green thanked his wife, his family and "anybody who's ever tried to write their own song."

Exuberant indie-pop singer-songwriter Valerie Poxleitner, who performs under the moniker Lights, picked up the Juno for best new artist.

"I was so not expecting this," she gushed. "It's really amazing that someone can do something independently and win on such a massive scale."

Trophies in seven categories were presented at Sunday's music-packed ceremony. In addition Nickelback, Sam Roberts and The Stills, the show included performances by:

  • McLachlan (this year's winner of the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for her charity work).
  • Green, who was joined by The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie for Sleeping Sickness.
  • Rock group Simple Plan.
  • Nominee Crystal Shawanda and winners Divine Brown and Serena Ryder.
  • Bryan Adams, who performed Walk on By with musical and vocal accompaniment by Kathleen Edwards.
  • Celtic rockers Great Big Sea, who closed the show with Hawksley Workman and Eccodek.

Sunday's gala paused about halfway through to see influential producer Bob Rock induct the members of Loverboy into the Canadian Rock Hall of Fame.

"We are honoured to be here tonight…. What a ride this has been," drummer Matt Frenette said.

In their speeches, the band members also paid tribute to their late bassist Scott Smith, who died in a boating accident in 2000.

"I know you got the best seat in the house up there in rock 'n' roll heaven. We sure do miss you," lead singer Mike Reno said.

Majority of trophies presented Saturday

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Junos each year, presented trophies in 32 categories on Saturday at a non-televised event. Winners included:

  • Aboriginal album: Running for the Drum, Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • Country recording: Beautiful Life, Doc Walker
  • Vocal jazz album: Lucky, Molly Johnson
  • Contemporary jazz album: Embracing Voices, Jane Bunnett
  • Traditional jazz album: Second Time Around, Oliver Jones
  • Classical album, solo or chamber ensemble: Homage, James Ehnes
  • Classical album, vocal or choral performance: Gloria! Vivaldi's Angels, Ensemble Caprice
  • Blues album: Ramblin' Son, Julian Fauth
  • Pop album: Flavors of Entanglement, Alanis Morissette
  • Francophone album: Tous les sens, Ariane Moffatt
  • Children's album: Snacktime!, Barenaked Ladies
  • International album: Viva La Vida, Coldplay

In 2010, the roving Juno Awards celebrations will travel to St. John's, N.L.

Sarah McLachlan poses with two members of the RCMP as she arrives on the red carpet for Sunday's Juno Awards in Vancouver. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

With files from the Canadian Press