The 2019 Oshawa Music Awards were handed out Saturday, Apr 6 at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The award show is the culmination of a week of activities created by the Music Business Management program at Durham College. DC president Don Lovisa was on hand as was councillor Derek Giberson. Many of the nominees were also in attendance for this, the second annual award show, including members of Killer Dwarfs, Weapons and Crown Lands.
Rooks McCoy won best new artist, Crown Lands won best artist. The Killer Dwarfs were nominated in the Lifetime Achievement category. Other nominees in the Lifetime category include Lori Yates, Kat Burns who performed on the night, Cuff The Duke and the winner, Roberta Michele.
The event was well run and well attended, as was the recent Rural Alberta Advantage show which was also an OMW event. The RAA gig was sold-out. Jen Fox, operations director at NXNE and a grad of the MBM program has been involved in the organization of the week as an advisor.
Having Oshawa in the title lends a certain weight to the awards which are in essence just a class project for the students and little to do with the creative community at large. There are discussions I understand about having the event set up as an independent entity, with students still being involved and Durham College as a potential sponsor. I would encourage such an evolvement.
It was something discussed last year when I was asked to host. It is easy to see how Jen Fox or other alumni could take it on and make it a success. We know the musicians of Oshawa need every bit of support and publicity they can get.
I would suggest two changes however to the voting, which is public and laudable for that reason, but the choice of Industry Leader or Lifetime Achievement awards should not be a fan choice affair.
How do you compare Lifetime achievements between the Dwarfs and Cuff The Duke? How can students who are from other towns know, who, even to nominate before it gets to the public voting on the list? Oshawa residents themselves don’t even know their own musicians, in particular those in the indie scene.
Last year in my discussions I and others had suggested Mike Shulga for the Lifetime Achievement Award, it was past the deadline for submissions so it didn’t happen but I also had to explain who Mike was and what his contributions to the Canadian music scene were, and not just to the students but to faculty too! Ultimately there was a mid-show video tribute to Mike.
There is also a potential bias towards mainstream acts, the program is for teaching the business of music not the craft after all, so once again indie artists can be overlooked as they operate outsode the industry channels.
No point pointing out problems if one can’t offer solutions however so I suggest the organisers use the same process they used to choose Melissa Dandero for the inaugural Alumni Achievement Award.
That process can be the template for both the Industry Leader and Lifetime Achievement. Dandero’s award was not on the public list so there is a a different mechanism available.
Add in greater consultation with those who are actively engaged in the Oshawa music scene and these awards can grow into something the city as a whole can get behind.
Here are the Oshawa Music Awards’s winners for 2019:
Best New Artist - Rooks McCoy
Best Artist - Crown Lands
Best Live Venue - The Music Hall
Industry Leader - Jeff Dalziel
Lifetime Achivement - Roberta Michele
Alumni Achievement Award - Melissa Dandeno