Organizers are thrilled to be hosting the Association of Country Music in Alberta (ACMA) Awards in Red Deer this weekend.
Highlights of events – to run through the weekend – include Fan Fest, seminars, round table discussions and an evening songwriters’ circle.
On Jan. 22nd, the weekend culminates with a gala dinner and the 2016 Alberta Country Music Awards broadcast live on Shaw TV from the Sheraton Hotel.
“In Alberta, we have such a great foundation of artists and industry. This is an opportunity for everyone to get together and network, connect and talk. More importantly, it’s to celebrate what artists have done throughout the prior year,” explained Marcie Hanson, executive director of the ACMA. “Anybody who has been in the music business in any fashion knows that it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. People make sacrifices, and this is a great way to just come together as a music family and celebrate everyone.”
She added the weekend is also a great opportunity to remind folks just how many talented artists there are across this province.
As to the schedule of events, on Saturday evening at Billy Bob’s, there will be a songwriters’ event.
“There will be four artists onstage twice throughout the night – so a total of eight emerging artists who are going to share their songs, and the stories behind them,” said Hanson. “We are also giving away two awards that night – Industry Person of the Year and Talent Buyer of the Year.
“That event is open to the public. It’s an 18-plus event for $10.”
Fan Fest runs Sunday at Bower Place Shopping Centre. “Eight artists will be performing – there will be albums and merchandise on sale as well.”
There are also some tickets left for Sunday night’s award show.
As to this year’s nominees, there are a few local names within the esteemed lists.
According to a release, the top five nominees in each category include the following: for the Female Artist of the Year – Alee, Amy Metcalf, Maddison Krebs, Sydney Mae and Trinity Bradshaw.
Male Artist of the Year (top six) nominees include Red Deer locals Steve Arsenault and Jamie Woodfin, as well as Bobby Wills, Dan Davidson, Drew Gregory and Trevor Panczak.
Group/Duo of the Year nominees include Domino, The Travelling Mabels, TwoShine County, The Doll Sisters and The Dungarees. The Fan’s Choice nominees include Bobby Wills, Cole Bradley, Domino, Hailey Benedict and The Dungarees.
Also, nominees for the Rising Star award include Amy Metcalfe, Brad Sims, Dan Davidson, Jamie Woodfin and Trevor Panczak. Single of the Year nominees go to Bobby Wills (Down By The River); Dan Davidson (Found); Hey Romeo (Ride With Me); Alee (Say Hello To Goodbye); Bobby Wills (Won’t You Be Mine). Album of the Year nominations include Alecia Achielle (Golden); Karack Hendriks (Karac Hendriks) and Drew Gregory (I Was There).
Meanwhile, Woodfin, over the past couple of years, has released several singles to solid acclaim.
He first picked up guitar when he was about 13. A penchant for the drums and a powerful singing voice soon surfaced as well. Woodfin was also only 14- or 15-years-old when he started writing his own music.
Through high school, he played in a band called The Dirties that were refining their own unique punk/rock sound. It took a little bit of getting used to when it came to performing, but Woodfin soon found himself comfortable onstage. During his years with The Dirties, the band produced an EP featuring songs that were written by the group.
Also, the immensely talented Arsenault, who was born and raised in South Rustico, PEI, has had a passion for music from his early days. And it also wasn’t long before Arsenault began to write his own songs. Winning many singing contests and playing with a band led him to further his career by moving to Alberta in 1999.
In 2001 he won The Q91 Search For The Stars talent search where he got the chance to go to Nashville to record an original song with the late Gary Buck.
He also auditioned for Nashville Star 2004, making it to regional finals in Austin, Texas.
The experience inspired Arsenault to keep chasing his dream. Since then he has opened for such artists like Duane Steele, Johnny Reid, Trooper, Nazareth, Julian Austin, Billy Klippert and 54-40.
Over the years, there’s also been a number of highlights including landing the role of lead guitarist for country star George Canyon.
Aichelle, who has been nominated for Album of the Year for her disc Golden, attended Red Deer College about 10 years ago and today lives near the City as well.
Meanwhile, Hanson said plans for the weekend begin to take shape typically many months in advance.
“Everybody has this vision and is willing to do what we have to do to make it all come together,” she said of the entire team behind making the annual event happen.
Also, being a part of the country music industry in Alberta is clearly a fulfilling line of work.
“It really is like a big family. We have the Alberta Country Music Awards, and lots of these artists are also part of the Canadian Country Music Association. So there are times of the year when they are competing against each other and do what’s best for their career. But at the end of it all, everyone is also there to support each other and you’ll see it this weekend, where people are excited for everyone who is nominated. It really is that kind of family.”
For more information about the weekend or for tickets to the various events, check out www.abcountrymusic.ca.