Aboriginal Music Week 2010: The Festival in Review

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Aboriginal Music Week 2010 was fantastic! The festival was produced by Aboriginal Music Manitoba Inc. and they had great crowds out for all eight of their concerts.
Here’s what people had to say about the festival this year:
“It's great to see Aboriginal artists and people strive to succeed at their dreams. All of the events were so inspiring and just packed with great people doing great things!”
- Kat Stone
"It makes me proud to see our amazing Indigenous artists perform and to see the pride on the faces of our Elders and Youth at the events. Aboriginal Music Week is an empowering staple in our Canadian arts scene and I hope to see it for many years to come".
- Shaneen Robinson
“Aboriginal Music Week is ultimately an industry builder. It builds artist confidence and also connects Aboriginal musicians to the fans, to new venues, and even other performance opportunities. The caliber of Aboriginal talent really deserves the spotlight that the event offers. It just ended and I already can't wait for next year's showcase.”
- Dave McLeod
"I don't know what you would call what Tanya Tagag, Jason Burnstick and Kinnie Starr did on stage at the Friday Night 49er but it was amazing.”
- Cassin Elliot
The programming included four family concerts and four nightclub shows.
The festival started with a couple of free lunch hour concerts at the Portage Place Shopping Centre in downtown Winnipeg. The lunch hour crowds took in performances by fiddler Darren Lavallee and Métis square dance stars “Slick” and “Lil’ J” on October 28 while JUNO Award winning party movers Burnt-Project 1 entertained the audience on October 29.
The Métis Jamboree, presented by Travel Manitoba, kicked off the evening concert schedule on October 29. The night began with an opening prayer by Métis Elder Norman Chartrand, who also spoke about the great pride he feels when he sees the young people carry on traditions. The Honourable Yvon Dumont hosted the festivities and did a great job pointing out the connections that each of the performers had to the community. Grand children, great grand children and parents shared the experience with grand parents and Elders and everyone hit the dance floor at the very first sign of a fiddle. Darren Lavallee headlined the night and his band backed up Melissa St. Goddard, Jason Lepine, and 12-year-old fiddle phenom Scott Cornelius. When they weren’t on the dance floor, the audience took in outstanding square dance performances by the Half Pints, the St. Laurent Steppers, the Métis Club Traditional Dancers, and the Norman Chief Memorial Dancers. As an added bonus “Slick” and “Lil’ J” hit the dance floor for a special performance to the Orange Blossom Special. It was a great night!
The Halloween Bash, presented by Visual Lizard, was held at the Skyview Ballroom the following night. Close to 300 guests hit the dance floor with the “Chicken Lady,” “Thing 1 and Thing 2,” and a gargoyle taking home the cash prizes for first, second, and third place in the costume contest, respectively. The evening’s entertainment began with a performance by Aboriginal music legend Percy Tuesday and 2010 APCMA winner Jerry Sereda. Inez Jasper, dressed as Wonder Woman, closed the night with a great set, backed by dancers dressed as Batman and Robin.
The Aboriginal Songwriters Concert, presented by CBC Radio One & CBC Radio 3, featured performances by Sonia Eidse, Mark Nabess, Stu Porteous, Bonnie Couchie, and Anishinabe blues legend Billy Joe Green. The evening started at 7:30 and the four opening songwriters took turns performing original compositions for the appreciative audience. Billy Joe Green headlined the night and definitely took advantage of the great sound and sightlines at the West End Cultural Centre, introducing existing fans to his new material and impressing others with his exception guitar chops.
Hip Hop Night, presented by CBC Radio One & CBC Radio 3, opened the flood gates for Aboriginal Music Week and close to 300 Aboriginal youth filled the West End Cultural Centre for performances by Saskatoon’s Crown P, Little Saskatchewan’s Lorenzo, and 2010 APCMA champs Winnipeg’s Most. The night started at 7pm and each of the acts did a great job moving the crowd. The crowd took an additional 45-minutes to clear the venue after the concert, sticking around for autographs and photos with the three members of Winnipeg’s Most. It was great!
Thursday night marked the end of the family concert series and the beginning of the late night shows at the Pyramid Cabaret. The Strings & Starr Concert, presented by CBC Radio One & CBC Radio 3, started at 7pm with innovative string players followed by an hour-long performance by Kinnie Starr. The show was held at the West End Cultural Centre and a capacity crowd took in performances by cellist Cris Derksen, flamenco-style guitar player Gabriel Ayala, and classical guitarist Jason Tuesday. Kinnie Starr played a mix of older, current, and unreleased material, taking the audience from folk to hip hop to dance.
“One of my favorite moments of the festival had to be when Kinnie Starr had the audience make her beat for her song ‘Kiss It,’ says Aboriginal Music Week artist Jason Tuesday. “It was after she couldn't find the track on her computer and she was in jeopardy of losing the vibe set in the room. Being a seasoned professional, Kinnie handled it with a grace that is rare and it was so inspiring to all I talked to who saw her that night too.”
The Electric Pow Wow, presented by Aboriginal Music Manitoba, hit the Pyramid Cabaret later that night. The crowd spent most of the night dancing to reggae, hip hop, dance hall and original mash-ups of Native music with electronic beats. Bear Witness, Deejay NDN, Deejay, Frame, and DJ Shub were outstanding and we hope to bring these guys back to Winnipeg soon!
The Friday Night 49er, presented by Grassroots News, was legendary. The Pyramid Cabaret was packed by 11pm with close to 150 people waiting outside the doors to get in. Winnipeg’s Most hit the stage to screams and applause, showing the crowd why they walked away with three APCMAs this year. Tagaq’s performance was out of this world, Colette Trudeau brought a lotta rock to the show, and JUNO Award winning party movers Burnt-Project 1 closed the night with an outstanding set that included a horn section, percussion, upright bass, and the exceptional songwriting of Dave Boulanger. The crowd included Twilight’s Bronson Peltier, former AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine, guitar legend Stevie Salas, and several other Aboriginal country VIPs.
Saturday night began with the Barking Water Screening, presented by On Screen Manitoba & ITWE. Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo was in attendance for a post-screening Q&A about the film along with Caroline Monnet, who also screened her film “Warchild.”
The Don Amero CD Release, presented by Aboriginal Music Manitoba, wrapped up the festival on Saturday night. The show was held at the Pyramid Cabaret and began with performances by Sonia Eidse and Cris Dersken. Don Amero took the stage for a prime time performance at 1230am, while Digging Roots and a host of special guests, including Derek Miller, Wab Kinew, Doug Cox, and Lorenzo closed the night.
Plans for Aboriginal Music Week 2011 are underway. Aboriginal and Native American artists are encouraged to check out the Call for Submissions for more information about performance opportunities.

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