The four main recipients honoured with achievement awards at the CIMA gala on Monday evening at the Berkeley Church event space in Toronto had different messages to convey. Here, in part, is a roundup of what was said.
Off stage with Triumph’s Rik Emmett and Attic co-founder
Tom Williams — photo, Jenn Mair.
Al Mair – The CIMA Builder Award recipient talked a bit about the early days working in a record store, for a record company, managing Gordon Lightfoot in his early career, and co-founding Attic Records with Tom Williams who was in attendance. “I have had a good run,” Mair said. “I’ve enjoyed it,” adding that he is optimistic that the business will rebound. “”A projection. I think the recorded music industry is 36 to 48 months away from becoming a healthy industry again, once we get You Tube and the others under control. There are sufficient monies available that the industry to grow and a recent stat came out of Europe from England said that independents worldwide were worth about 35 percent. That hopefully will go up substantially.”
His main message to the attentive audience this night, however, came in two parts: That there “shouldn’t be a business model that allows professionals to write grant applications for a fee or a percentage. “People should write their own business plans,” he argued. Second, it is high time that organizations (in the music industry) turn over the boards to young people. “Give them an opportunity to become involved, and bring fresh ideas to our business,” he said to warm applause.
Before he took to the stage, a message was read from Bobby Curtola, who sent it to Mair a couple of weeks before his death on June 4. It read: “You championed those critical moves that changed the way the music industry worked as a result of your efforts and investment…and that took an incredible amount of faith and belief.
“From Canada to the USA and beyond, you figured out a way to export our talent and music as a full service company that worked with, and around, the majors who, at the time, owned it all. You are the ‘Rocky’ of our time who went up against the big guys.”
Richard Flohil before receiving his award.
Unsung Hero Award recipient Richard Flohil had a lot of kind words to say. In part: “You have given this award to a man who can’t play an instrument, can’t sing, and who dances like a pregnant elephant. And one who stumbled into this business because he was in love with the music of almost unknown black American artists, many with wonderfully exotic — even romantic — names: Muddy Waters, Robert Nighhawk, Sleepy John Estes, Buddy Guy, Howling Wolf … and I thought other people would enjoy them as much as I did, if I could give them the opportunity to hear them.
“It was something called a folk festival that changed everything. In 1965, at Mariposa I met songwriters and singers such as Gord Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, Leonard Cohen. Phil Ochs, The Staple Singers and so many more — and they changed my life….
“If I have accomplished anything, it has been sharing my enthusiasm about artists I have found and helped promote, often in the earliest days of their careers.
“So, I have been privileged to help introduce people — inside and outside what’s left of this “industry” — to k.d. lang, Serena Ryder, Crash Test Dummies, Shakura S’Aida, Alejandra Ribera, Downchild, Scarlett Jane, Justin Rutledge, Jadea Kelly and many others.
“And right now, I’ll list a handful of artists you may not have heard of yet. Watch for The Jerry Cans from Iqaluit (they’re touring in Greenland next week, but killed in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year). It’s still not too late to find Jay Aymar, who plays almost 200 dates a year and has been doing so for close to 20 years.
“Discover Sarah Jane Scouton and Kaia Kater, two young women who put a contemporary edge on ages-old traditional music. For goodness’ sake find Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, a high energy band that sounds like the Staple Singers in a swamp. And if you want to be really early in the game, check out Sydney Delong, a 20-year-old with an astonishing presence. And Anglie Gunn, who hasn’t even made a record yet — but who has a perfect 1950s country voice.
“Before I close, may I use this moment to suggest two individuals who need to be honoured by this organization — both of them independent to their very core.
“The first is Loreena McKennitt, the queen of independent music making in this country, She was the first artist to succeed as a self-managed, self-financed artist/businesswoman. She began her career busking outside the St. Lawrence Market and now — 25 years later — has sold 15 million records around the world, and on her own label. And she’s still touring internationally.
“The second is Holger Petersen, who runs Stony Plain records, which this year is marking its 40th anniversary as the oldest independent label in Canada that has prospered under the same ownership for four decades. There have been almost 400 releases, numerous Juno Awards, Grammy nominations, and the label has an artist roster that runs from Ian Tyson to new releases by Colin Linden and Paul Reddick and MonkeyJunk. And Holger has hosted Saturday Night Blues on CBC for 30 years, and Natch’l Blues on CKUA in Alberta for 45.
“Independence is strength. CIMA represents independent music making with energy and passion. I’m touched by the understanding that my own energy and passion has been honoured tonight.
“Finally, all of us involved in this business have to understand that we have work to do, and that it’s more important than ever. Music, joy, and love is what we can — and must — give to help heal this tired, tense, divided, desperate fucked-up world.
“As John Lee Hooker said, It’s too late to quit now.”
Neill on stage talking about what the influence Brian Chater
has had on him over the years.
Neill Dixon was honoured with the Brian Chater Leadership Award, named after the onetime music publisher and music executive who, from 1987 to 2006, was President of CIMA’s predecessor and to which he dedicated his life. Another transplanted Brit, his initiative and entrepreneurial drive led him to become a club owner, manager, agent, record company promotion man, co-founder of Solid Gold Records (with Steve Propas) –a company that earned 27 gold and platinum records over a five-year period, and build Canadian Music Week into one of today’s premiere global music industry conferences. His accomplishments are numerous, but as ever he was a man of few words. Few, but well chosen.
“The irony of Brian Chater’s life is that if he were an artist, he might have lost CanCon points for being born in England. But there are no better Canadians than the ones who chose to be here. And Brian chose to make a difference.
“I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of a giant… not just for receiving an award in his name, but for carrying on his legacy at every CMW program or panel on things he championed. That includes neighbouring rights, musical reproduction rights, FACTOR, publishing issues and CanCon, which is under siege to this day.
“Music may be the food of life, but sadly it doesn’t always put food on the table. The takeaway of the Brian Chater Leadership Award to me is, if you don’t make music, then at least help make music happen. I thank you for this award, and I hope to live up to it every single day.”
OK, so we screwed up and the photo
taken was too grainy, so here’s Joel
at the office instead.
The Entrepreneur Award was presented to Joel Carriere, owner and CEO of Dine Alone Records and Bedlam Management. One of the stars of the new breed of industry builders, the one-time record store employee has slowly and methodically built a multi-faceted empire that includes the record company, an events company, a management arm and a dive into branded condiments. The firm now has 30 employees and Carriere spent most all of his speech acknowledging his roots and lauding his team and the acts that have become part of his family and with whom he has built friendships. For him it was an opportunity to offer his own “thanks” for the acknowledgement from his peers. As for his drive and ambition: “Entrepreneurs, we’re obviously a unique bunch but the thing about us is we’re never really satisfied or never really happy with what we’re doing in the moment because we’re always on to the next few projects.”
Originally posted by FYI Music 06/15/2016