Living Arts Centre, Mississauga
Friday, April 23

International Instrumentalist of the Year
Rick Braun
George Benson
Euge Groove
Jessy J
Boney James
Peter White

International Vocalist of the Year
George Benson
Spencer Day
Will Downing
Melody Gardot
Norah Jones
Vanessa Williams

International Group/Duo of the Year
Marc Antoine/Paul Brown
East Bay Soul
(Greg Adams, Michael Paulo, Johnnie Bamont, Brian Allen, Evan Stone, Johnny Sandoval, James Wirrick, Lee Thornburg, Joey Navarro, Tom Bowes, Sean Holt, Darryl Walker)
Pieces of a Dream
(James Lloyd, Curtis Harmon, David Dyson, Rohn Lawrence, Eddie Baccus, Jr)
(Jeff Kashiwa, Russ Freeman, Dave Karasony, Bill Heller, Rico Belled)
Sax Pack
(Steve Cole, Kim Waters, Jeff Kashiwa)

Female Vocalist of the Year
Irene Marc
Ali Matthews
Sophie Milman
Johanna Sillanpaa
Carol Welsman

Male Vocalist of the Year
Michael Buble
Matt Dusk
Rik Emmett
Michael Kaeshammer
Chris Smith
Haydain Neale (Jacksoul)

Guitarist/Bass Guitarist of the Year
Rich Brown
Jesse Cook
Johannes Linstead
Robert Michaels
Robert Tardik

Wind Instrumentalist of the Year
Demo Cates
Carson Freeman
Darren Rahn
Jon Stewart
Alexander Zonjic

Keyboardist/Pianist of the Year
Don Breithaupt
Eddie Bullen
Rob DeBoer
Stan Fomin
Michael Kaeshammer

Album of the Year
Jesse Cook – Rumba Foundation (EMI Music Canada)
Four80East – Roll On (Native Language)
Groove Kings – Blood Red (Independent)
Darren Rahn – Talk of the Town (Nugroove Records)
Alexander Zonjic – Doin’ the D (Heads Up International)

Drummer/Percussionist of the Year
Dave Campion
Davide Direnzo
Steve Heathcote
Tony Grace
Mark McLean

Best Original Composition
Blood Red – Howard Forman
Wouldn’t Change a Thing – James Bryan McCollum and Matthew Marston
Isabelle – Michael Kaeshammer, Ron Lopata, Andrea Kaziol, Joel Parisien
Roll On – Tony Grace and Rob DeBoer
Talk of the Town – Darren Rahn

Group/Duo of the Year
Cates-Fomin Project
Groove Kings
Sillan & Young
Strung Out Troubadours
( Rik Emmett and Dave Dunlop)

BMO Broadcaster of the Year
Ted Hasiuk
Cameron Smith
Alexander Zonjic

For more information, visit: www.smoothjazznow.com/canadian_smooth_jazz_awards.htm

Originally posted Nov. 9 2009
Written by Tracey Lukasik

Part 1 of 3
Parts 2 & 3 available following clip or visit backstageaxxess.com

There’s no arguing that Rik Emmett is a busy guy, not to mention a versatile and talented one.

Tour dates are booked for his latest project, P.R.O, featuring Greek guitarist Pavlo and Latin guitar sensation Oscar Lopez. The first offering from the trio was released October 27, fittingly titled “Trifecta.” Concurrent with recording and touring with Dave Dunlop in the “Strung-Out Troubadours,” a jazz duo who have three successful records to date, he hosts several musician workshops, teaches and lends time to several charity events. Yet, he still manages to set aside time to watch sports, play with the dog, and spend quality hours with his family and friends.

I had the honor of shooting the breeze with the incredible Mr. E when he rocketed through town last month to play a set of Triumph classics for his home-away-from hometown crowd near Buffalo, NY. Join us as we touch on a range of topics including (but not limited to): A Triumph reunion tour -will they or won’t they? Just how did he hook up with the guys in P.R.O? What are the effects of a slippery leather sofa on interviewer and interviewee plus, enjoy a passionate sports commentary by Rik and much, more more!

Tracey and Backstageaxxess.com would like to personally thank Rick Wharton and Dave Dunlop for being two wild and crazy guys and for setting up the interview. As well as, “Coop” and staff of the Seneca Niagara Casino for always being so accommodating and taking care of us.

Finally, an extra special thank you to Mr. Rik Emmett, my eternal inspiration who continues to touch my soul through his song!

Originally posted Nov. 7 2009
Written by Tracey Lukasik

Dave Dunlop

Photo courtesy backstageaxxess.com

Backstagesaxxess.com had the opportunity to chat with Dave Dunlop, an accomplished guitar player, who has served as the long-time counterpart to Rik Emmett of the 80’s Canadian trio, Triumph.

Dave has devoted 17 years to the music business as a guitarist, songwriter and instructor. His resume includes playing lead guitar and writing with the Canadian band, The Full Nine and later touring and recording with Emmett on a variety of projects including the Rik Emmett Band, a pair of Triumph reunion gigs in 2008, and their most recent project, The Strung-Out Troubadours, for which both have received industry accolades.

He is enjoying continued success with the Troub’s second studio release entitled “Push & Pull,” that recently saw three of it’s songs crack the Canadian jazz top 30 chart. We figured it was high time to formally introduce you to this talented and comedic performer who definitely knows his way around a 6-string.
Enter, Dave Dunlop…

TRACEY: Tell us about your background; at what age did you discover the guitar? Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?

DAVE: Well, I’m an Army brat really. My Dad was in the Military, so we moved every three years. We lived in Belgium and pretty much every province in Canada. In grade 7, I met a guy who needed a drummer, so I went to his place to jam, and as soon as I saw the guitar in the corner and played it, that was it. I ran home and told my mom that I wanted a guitar and some lessons. I took classical lessons for a few years, and eventually went to Humber College to study jazz.

TRACEY: Recall your earliest experience performing live.

DAVE: Referring to the previous story; my first gig…2 months after meeting the dude who “needed a drummer,” well, we found another drummer, my friend played bass and I played guitar at a battle of the bands at my junior high school. Well, we won the friggin’ thing! My most vivid memory (remember, it’s grade 7) is my Dad coming up on stage in his military outfit to congratulate me.

TRACEY: Who are your influences?

DAVE: Influences…oh jeez! In order of when I discovered them? Ace Frehley, Elton John, Pete Townshend, Eddie Van Halen, Rik Emmett, Mike Stern, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, King’s X, and John Scofield. I’m sure I’m forgetting lots, but you get the idea.

TRACEY: How did you cross paths with Rik Emmett?

DAVE: I was on the faculty of a workshop and he was guest artist. We jammed, it was cool, and at the time he needed a backup band ’cause his guys were off doing some theater thing. That was in 1996…yikes…time flies!

TRACEY: Tell us about your gear (all guitar players LOVE that question).

DAVE: I think I’m one of the few guitar players that is really not that passionate about the gear. I NEVER get my guitars set up…I just play ’em as they are and ( I hardly ever change strings). I confess to adoring my Strat that I’ve had for 17 years…ah Rufus, you’ve been good to me. Thanks to the folks at Gibson, I have a beautiful Les Paul supreme that I record with all the time. And thanks to Dean Zelinsky I have a nice Hardtail for slide. I have a relationship w/ the Traynor folks for amps. I have my beloved 5150 head as well…OK, maybe I like gear a little -;)

TRACEY: Describe the Strung-Out Troubadours songwriting process. Melody first, or lyrics first?

DAVE: No real formula there. Sometimes the music comes first, sometimes the lyrics. Sometimes Rik has an almost finished song, sometimes I do…it’s a really cool collaboration.

TRACEY: What song off Push & Pull is nearest & dearest to you?

DAVE: Two of ’em.” Only Time will Tell,” because Rik wrote a lyric and asked me to write the music. I’m still not sure if he knew how hard the lyric would hit me on a personal level. The other is “Deeper Kind of Blue, p.s.” because Rik wrote it about his brother. Those songs tear us up each and every night. (Ed note: Rik’s brother, Russell, recently passed away from cancer.)

TRACEY: Which song was the hardest to complete & why?

DAVE: “Miracle of Love” was hardest to complete but strictly for technical reasons.

TRACEY: What other projects are you involved in, musically or otherwise.

DAVE: I’m knee deep in my own solo project now (finally!) I’m also producing a young male vocalist right now, as well as developing a writing project w/ a female artist. I play w/ Orchestras around North America in a “classic rock meets symphonies” kind of thing and I’m also in the Alan Frew trio. Keeping busy!

TRACEY: What is left on your musical career “to-do” list?

DAVE: Left to do? Oh jeez….lot’s… I don’t even know where to start. I’d like to finally get my own record out there (which will happen in 2010) that’s a start. I’d like to write another record with my partner in crime from The Full Nine.

TRACEY: Let’s move on to some fun questions, a “Get to know Dave” Q&A. What superhero power would you want if you could have one and why?

DAVE: I’d like to be able to fly like superman so I could avoid all those friggin’ airports and security, etc. “Rik, I’ll meet ya in Philly, I’m flying on my own…oh, and I’m bringing liquids and gels and my guitar in a gig bag, and security can’t stop me!”

TRACEY: Awesome! Name your favorite sport and your favorite team.

DAVE: I’m addicted to playing hockey and addicted to running. I play hockey twice a week all year-round. Favorite team…well, whatever, it’s the Leafs, but I’m from Toronto, so that’s just the way it is.

TRACEY: Any pets? Kids?

DAVE: I had a cat, and developed a bad allergy, so I had to give him to my brother. We never had kids but I have my hands full with my 4 nephews whom I absolutely adore.

TRACEY: What you favorite Triumph song and/or record?

DAVE: I don’t care what Gil, Mike and Rik say…”Just a Game” is the best Triumph record.

TRACEY: I love that one too! Good call. Tell us a funny or embarrassing story involving a particular gig or moment with Rik, Triumph and/or the Rik Emmett Band.

DAVE: Triumph reunion show in Oklahoma (2008). ALL of the pyro and bomb cues were wrong. At one point I was jamming with Gil and a concussion bomb went off at the wrong time. I swear he jumped 2 feet off his stool!!

TRACEY: Anything else you’d like to add or tell the readers at www.backstageaxxess.com? Here’s your chance…1, 2, 3, go!

DAVE: Thanks to backstageaxxess for taking the time to read my insights…cheers!!

For more info on Dave Dunlop please visit: davedunlop.com or myspace.com/davedunlop. Backstageaxxess would once again like to thank Rick Wharton, for always going above and beyond, but mostly for just being so damn cool! Check out his website at www.rickwharton.com

Originally posted Nov. 1 2009
Written by Tracey Lukasik

Rik Emmett

Photo courtesy backstageaxxess.com

The intimate setting of the Bear’s Den was the place to be Thursday night as guitarist Rik Emmett and his band delivered a tight set of Triumph classics interspersed with a couple of smooth jazz instrumentals and a fantastic cover of the timeless Clapton hit, “Layla.”

Rik’s right hand man (and fellow accomplished guitarist) Dave Dunlop, served as a sparing partner throughout the night as they playful challenged each other in a “riff-off,” if you will, while also entertaining the crowd with comedic dialogue. As Emmett recanted a story where he needed to use supplies from his “first aid kit,” to ease the discomfort of raw finger nail, Dunlop referred to the kit as Rik’s “purse.” Rik got his revenge moments later when Dunlop’s cord kept falling loose from the jack of his guitar resulting in amplified “thuds” right at the climax of the “Midsummer’s Daydream.” Emmett teased with, “Dave, every kid in a garage band knows you weave your cord through the guitar strap!” The crowd chuckled and the boys called it even.  This minor technical difficulty was the only hiccup in an otherwise flawless evening of incredible guitar playing by both Emmett and Dunlop. Despite the cord incident, “Midsummer’s Daydream” was a crisp and clean harmonic delight as the duo played this instrumental number in jaw-dropping synchronicity.

Rik went on to provide a blistering solo at the end of “Three Clouds Across the Moon,” that resulted in a standing ovation that lasted until the band returned for their sole encore, “Magic Power.” Before taking a final bow, Emmett instructed the crowd to “Hold on to the power with everything you’ve got!” It was apparent to all in attendance that he has definitely taken his own advice!

Lay it on the Line
Somebody’s Out There
Allied Forces
Rocky Mountain Way
Fight the Good Fight
Red Hot
Midsummer’s Daydream
Hold On
3 Clouds

Magic Power

We would like to thank Rick Wharton for allowing us to cover the show. Please stay tuned for an exclusive video interview that was conducted before the show with Rik right here on Backstageaxxess.com.