by Roman Mitz for Open Spaces
The fourth annual Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) awards were once again held at the beautiful Flato Theatre in Markham, and for the third year straight they were hosted by singer/songwriter and leader of the Road Hammers, Jason McCoy. McCoy has charisma in spades plus a crafty sense of humour as he demonstrated by unveiling a new theme song for the CMAO’s, cleverly sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.
Cold Creek County, who took home the most awards, kicked things off with their latest ‘Beer Weather’, which was certainly an appropriate choice given the sweltering temperature outside and the hot musical night ahead. When CMAO president Bruce Good of the legendary Good Brothers strolled up to the podium to deliver his welcome speech, house band the Western Swing Authority broke into a version of ‘The Old Gray Mare (Ain’t What (It) Used To Be ’), much to Good’s chagrin. The Authority was spectacular throughout the evening as they expertly backed all of the performers from the crooning of Jason Blaine to Tebey’s country rap. One of the prettier tunes of the evening came from the Authority itself with a nice slice of old time swing in the form of ‘One Of Us Is Lying’. McCoy tried to coax the Authority’s twin fiddle players to back him on a version of Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’, but they jokingly declined so McCoy did a commendable job of hammering out the song’s famous instrumental duel on his acoustic guitar. Music and fashion highlights of the evening belonged to Leah Daniels and Meghan Patrick. Daniels’ rocked a skirt-halter top-knee high boot combo to the max, as she knocked
out a smoking version of her latest single ‘Your Kiss Is Killing Me’, while Patrick stuck with a more traditional look with a buckskin vest, denim shorts and fringe cowboy boots as she delivered her signature tune, ‘Bow Chicka Wow Wow’. Jessica Mitchell also brought the house down with a powerful solo performance of her intimate ‘Hold Onto The Light’. The evening was capped with the CMAO Impact Award, a Hall-Of-Fame-like honour that this year went to Prairie Oyster, arguably the best country band to come out of Canada. The award was accepted by Oyster front man Russell deCarle, keyboardist Joan Besen and fiddle player John P. Allen. It would have been great to see them hit the stage for a couple of numbers, but the fact that they didn’t does not take away from what turned out to be an evening of stellar entertainment.
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Here are your major winners:
Single of the Year: When The Buzz Wears Off – Tebey
Album of the Year: What Love Is All About – Johnny Reid
Male Artist of the Year: Jason Blaine
Female Artist of the Year: Leah Daniels
Group or Duo of the Year: Cold Creek County
Roots Artist of the Year: The Good Family
Rising Star Award: Cold Creek County
Fan’s Choice Award: Cold Creek County