It was a picture perfect night at the lovely Markham Theatre, a most appropriate setting for what turned out to be a very successful Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Show. Based on this inaugural show, the CMAO’s should serve as the model for every other awards ceremony out there. It was well paced at just over two hours and there were no gratuitous or overly lengthy acceptance speeches from the winners.
Canadian Country music vet Charle Major hosted the event and his off-the-cuff style was thoroughly entertaining. (Save for a couple of groaners like lamenting the fact that they couldn’t land a deal with Viagra to sponsor the Rising Star Award). What also kept things uplifting from a musical perspective was the superlative Western Swing Authority, a bit of a Bob Wills throwback unit that served as the house band for most of the stars throughout the evening.
Performance highlights included The Small Town Pistols’ Living On the Outside, a song that sizzled almost as much as singer Amanda Wilkinson’s mini-skirt. Hunky Jason Blain received the first standing ovation of the evening (spearheaded by a rowdy female contingent from Haliburton), for his sentimental favourite They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore. Kira Isabella was simply electric with a charismatic rendition of her smash hit A Little More Work. She’s obviously gained a lot of poise and confidence from opening shows for Carrie Underwood and we may be witnessing the making of a new Canadian Diva. The house was again brought down by the duo of Travis Good and Greg Keelor (from Blue Rodeo), who turned in a rousing sing-along performance of the Blue Rodeo classic Hasn’t Hit Me Yet. Perhaps the highlight of the night, however, was a surprise show closing appearance by the Good Brothers, as they reprised their first hit Fox On the Run with most of the ensemble. It was the ideal finale as it brought together some of the old guard like Major, Keelor and Michele Wright, with some of the new breed including Deric Ruttan and The Hearbroken, uniting them as one on the Goods classic.
2013 CMAO Award Winners:
Female Artist of the Year – Kira Isabella
Group/Duo of the Year – The Stellas
Male Artist of the Year – Johnny Reid
Rising Star Award – Autumn Hill and Lindsay Broughton (Tie)
Album of the Year – Up All Night; Deric Ruttan
Single of the Year – They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore; Jason Blaine
Songwriter of the Year – They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore; Jason Blaine & Deric Ruttan
Impact Award – Canadian Country Music Association
Photography by: Ted Van Boort