One of the more pleasant surprises in the country music industry last year was the success of the first Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) awards show. Not only did it provide the opportunity to acknowledge the finest country performers in the province, but the high octane performances made for a rip-snorting blast for the fans in attendance. The second annual CMAOs will take place at the same venue, the beautiful Flato Markham Theatre, on May 26.
This year’s hosting duties go to veteran singer/songwriter Jason McCoy who says: “It’s an honour to not only be nominated for a CMAO, but to be hosting Ontario Country Music’s biggest night as well … we’ve got some of the very best artists in the world, and it’s going to be a great night to celebrate their talent”. Jason is also the creator and front man of the country-rock band The Road Hammers; he and his boys have a ball on the video for their recent single Mud, and he should be a fun host.
Some of the heaviest hitters of the night are Jason Blaine and Deric Ruttan, who are both nominated for best single, album and male performer, and Autumn Hill who are also up for best single and album, as well as best group/duo. All three artists will be performing at the show as will the terrific Western Swing Band whose love of classic Western Swing and traditional based original music comes through in every infectious performance.
A highlight of the show is sure to be the presentation of the CMAO Impact Award, the recipient of which is determined by the CMAO Board. This award was established to honour/recognize an artist, group, industry personality or company/organization that has left an enduring and indelibly positive footprint on the landscape of country music in Ontario. This year the award will go to a very worthy recipient in the form of one of the most important singer/songwriters – the pride of Orillia Ontario, Gordon Lightfoot. While Lightfoot may be considered to be more of a folk artist, he’s made an indelible impression in the country market as well, as his songs have been recorded by the likes of Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, The Good Brothers and even Elvis Presley during his 70’s country phase. Lightfoot will be on hand to receive the award but he is not expected to perform. However, don’t bet against Bruce Good convincing Gord to strap on his Gibson if there’s a finale similar to last year’s ensemble sing-along of the Goods classic Fox on the Run.