To casual observers, the Juno Awards are star-studded, televised hoopla lionizing Canadian music and the business that supports it. But a closer examination of the Junos — and its attendant Juno Week panels and special presentations — reveals a clear altruistic bent with heaps of cash being raised for MusiCounts, the Canadian Academy of Reordings Arts & Sciences' (CARAS) music education charity dedicated to putting instruments into the hands of schoolchildren and teens nationwide.
The list of events fundraising for MusiCounts during 2018 Juno Week, happening in Vancouver March 19 to 25, is still being confirmed. But some iron-clads are on the books, notably the awards show itself, which rolls at Rogers Arena March 25. One dollar from every ticket sold (with an estimated venue capacity of 19,000) benefits MusiCounts, through the academy's partnership with Plus 1, a facilitating nonprofit started by members of Arcade Fire. Given the marquee performers slated —Arcade Fire, Dallas Green with Sarah Harmer in a Gord Downie tribute, Arkells, red-hot newcomers Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez plus host Michael Bublé — it’s certain that stubs, which start at $59, will be scooped.
Second only to the awards show itself in heat and light is the annual Juno Songwriters’ Circle, which finds esteemed hosts, super-producer Bob Rock and singer/songwriter Jann Arden (always a hoot) leading artists Iskwé, Jim Cuddy, Rose Cousins, Ruth B. and Scott Helman in song, stories and who knows what else. The coveted acoustic event happens March 25 at noon at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre with a portion of proceeds (tickets start at $39.50) directed to MusiCounts.
But wait… there’s more! The Juno Cup, which finds musicians and former NHL stars facing off on the ice — and slated for Burnaby's Bill Copeland Arena March 23, 7:30 pm — this year pits former Vancouver Canuck legends BJ MacDonald, Kyle Wellwood and Paul Reinhart against guests including (but not limited to) Aaron Pritchett, Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck), Darryl James (The Strumbellas) and Shawn Hook. This annual celebrity hockey game (now in its 15th year) has raised over $840,000 to date for MusiCounts. Can a million be far behind? Entrance is a modest $20.
The night before the puck drops is the third annual Juno Cup Jam which features some of the artists participating in the big game. Performing covers and collaborations at The Imperial March 22, 8 pm: Aaron Pritchett, Barney Bentall, Chad Brownlee, Chuck Keeping, Cosmo Ferraro (Ferraro), Dallas Smith, Darryl James, Devin Cuddy, Dustin Bentall, Grant Lawrence (The Smugglers), Jay Bodner (Indian City), JJ Shiplett, Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk), Nice Horse, Odds, Sam Polley and Shawn Hook. Phew. Tickets are also $20.
Putting all that fundraising into perspective is the MusiCounts StarBand Performance, featuring students from several Band Aid recipient schools in the Greater Vancouver Area strutting their stuff March 24, 3 pm, at the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza (more details TBD).
And lest you be wondering how MusiCounts — spearheaded, incidentally, by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) which also governs the Junos — has fared since its 1997 inception: the org has benefitted 853 schools in 110 communities with 353 scholarships awarded and 12 tireless music teachers duly recognized. Consider your ticket to any of the above-mentioned events a solid investment in the musical superstars of tomorrow.Air Max