Artist-packed JUNO train rockin' all the way to Ottawa
The coach had barely left the station and already the JUNO train to Ottawa was rockin'.
Well, at least according to Toronto rap artist D-sisive, who is nominated for Rap Recording of the Year for his album “Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye.”
“It’s ridiculous. I don’t even think it’s 10 a.m. yet and already Tom Cochrane is handing out shots to everybody, Stompin’ Tom Connors, he already broke his acoustic guitar . . . and he hasn’t even had a drink yet . . . I can’t even tell you what Terri Clark is doing. It’s a lot crazier than I thought it would be,” says D-sisive, whose real name is Derek Christoff.
He may be exaggerating some (or all) of what was happening in the artist car (Tom Cochrane and Stompin’ Tom are not even on the car, as far as we know), but it’s a definite fact that everyone on board was having a good time.
“I’m personally happy to have free beer on the train. That’s kind of cool,” says Andrew “Marty” Martino, drummer for Down With Webster.
But is the party really as crazy as D-sisive is making it seem?
“This is the media area. Everyone’s really (quiet) and working,” says Martino.
“If you (were in the artist car) you wouldn’t be able to hear what we are saying. It’s crazy,” says 'DWW' vocalist Pat Gillett.
Before the train departed from downtown Toronto, two-time nominee Rural Alberta Advantage along with hometown pop artist Diamond Rings and Canadian country darling Terri Clark, helped kick off the festivities Friday morning at Union Station, giving a free performance for JUNO train passengers and anyone else who happened to be passing through the concourse.
“I think we can say we officially kicked off the JUNO train,” says Nils Edenloff of Rural Alberta Advantage.
The band, nominated for New Group of the Year and Video of the Year, was also looking forward to hopefully rubbing shoulders with some of the other artists on board, namely Ron Sexsmith.
“We saw Ron Sexsmith, that was really exciting,” says Amy Cole, who wasn’t sure she was brave enough to actually approach him. “After the complimentary (beer) goes around maybe I’ll be braver.”
“We are in a car further back from those people I believe,” says Edenloff. “I think there’s a limit; you can’t go up into the higher number cars.”
“There are bouncers,” adds Cole with a laugh.
But the legendary Sexsmith, who is nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, had a hard time believing anyone would be that excited to meet him.
“They’re excited I’m on the train? What’s wrong with this country? That’s funny. I would have no idea that anyone would think that. That’s amazing,” says the ever-humble artist.
“I’m excited I’m on the train. I’m hoping to bump into myself at some point, too,” he adds with a laugh.
Derrick Ross, president of Slaight Music and an organizer with the JUNO train, says the last time there was such a train was 10 years ago, which was also the last time the event was held in the country’s capital city.
“It makes it more fun and exciting for everybody to come up. It’s kind of a fun little community thing . . . Some of the artists know each other already but people will mill around (and have fun).”
Five cars filled with more than 300 artists, nominees, label reps and members of the media, made up the Ottawa-bound VIA train, which was set to arrive Friday afternoon.
The JUNO Awards will take place Sunday night and whether they win or lose, many of the artists on the train were just happy to be nominated.
“As a kid I’ve always wanted to be here. It’s always been a dream . . . everyone wants to be nominated for a JUNO and win one. This being my third, there’s no sense of being jaded at all. It just gets even more exciting,” he says.
“It’s incredibly flattering,” echoes Toronto-born, Nashville-based country singer Lindi Ortega, who’s nominated for New Artist of the Year and Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Solo. “It’s a huge honour.”