Current Swell (currentswell.com)
These guys are busy this summer, travelling the music festival circuit in support of their fifth studio album, Ulysses. Current Swell is gaining popularity around the world, thanks to great instrumentals and vocals, and a truly engaging live show.
Runners up: Slam Dunk (facebook.com/Slamdunkband); Mindil Beach Markets (mindilbeach.com); Zerbin (zerbinmusic.com).
Current Swell – Ulysses
Staying true to what they know and what fans love, Ulysses is yet another eclectic album from these Victoria rockers that showcases their talent and originality. The album, recorded at Vancouver’s Greenhouse Studios and produced by Nathan Sabatino, was released May 6.
Runners up: Man Made Lake – Bodhicitta: The Shepherd; The Tower of Dudes – Make Your Own Culture; Northcote – Northcote.
Song of the Year
“Keys to the Kingdom” by Current Swell
Current Swell’s second single off Ulysses got tons of radio play, thanks to its progressive sounds and beautiful lyrics. This song was loved by M Award voters, and it would certainly appease the king.
Runners up: Steph MacPherson’s “Bells and Whistles”; The Backhomes’ “Talk”; Geoffrey Lundstrom’s “Wash the Dirt Off”.
Top Solo Artist
Aidan Knight (aidanknight.com)
This folksy singer-songwriter is the frontman of the quintet that bears his name. Knight, 27, a guitarist who’s lent his sound to a number of projects with local bands and artists in recent years, remains busy touring with the band at festivals this summer.
Runners up: Vince Vaccaro (vincevaccaro.com); Kytami (kytami.ca); Dougal Bain McLean (dougalbain.com).
Top Electronic Music Artist
They say nice guys finish last, but that certainly isn’t the case for one of Western Canada’s most talked about DJs/producers. Comfortable rinsing out everything from Future Bass to Drum and Bass, Neon Steve has a reputation for playing high energy sets that blend and twist conventional genres.
Runners up: The Krells (thekrells.com); Miami Nights 1984 (facebook.com/miaminights1984); Monolithium (monolithiummm.com); Grossbuster (facebook.com/grossbustermusic); Dan Godlovitch.
Top Emerging Artist or Band
Space Boots (facebook.com/spacebootsrockandroll)
They describe themselves as shirtless, long-haired dreamers who rock the fuck out with their rock ‘n’ roll/funk/punk sound and adult-themed lyrics. That’s a pretty spot-on description of who they are and what they do when this five-man band puts on a a live show.
Runners up: Leisure Suit (leisuresuit.ca); The Carlines (thecarlines.com); Wand (wandwand.com).
Top Rock Artist or Group
Acres of Lions (acresoflions.com)
These pop-rockers are no strangers to performing on big stages. Acres of Lions is made up of ex-touring members of American punk band Against Me! – Jeff Kalesnikoff, Tyson Yerex, Dan Ball and Shane Deyotte. Their music has gained fans around the world, thanks to a well-deserved showing in the International Songwriting Competition, and international releases of their albums.
Runners up: The Roper Show (theropershow.com); Isobel Trigger (isobeltrigger.com); Man Made Lake (manmadelake.wordpress.com)
Top Folk/Roots Artist or Group
The Archers (thearchersband.com)
Winners of the Favourite Emerging Artist/Band category in 2013, The Archers have quickly become a favourite of music lovers in Victoria. The Archers’ unique folk/rock sound is created by their ability to be multi-talented musicians, songwriters and performers.
Runners up: Oliver Swain (oliverswainmusic.com); Marc Atkinson (marcatkinson.com).
Top Hip Hop/RnB/Urban Artist or Group
Georgia Murray (georgiamurray.net)
Georgia Murray won this category in 2012, and thanks to a strong start this year (the release of The Break, a new project called LIINKS with DJ/producer DWhiz) she’s reclaimed the top spot. Murray’s haunting vocals project a delicate image of soul music smattered with the eerie sensibility of classic trip-hop.
Runners up: Pigeon Hole (facebook.com/PigeonHoleofSweatshopUnion); DJ Murge (facebook.com/djmurge); Cold Residents (facebook.com/ColdResidents).
Top Jazz/Blues Artist or Group
Maureen Washington (maureenwashington.ca)
Winner of this category three out of the last four years, Maureen Washington continues to create new musical avenues and a growing numbers of fans as she performs with a variety of artists. Washington is a popular performer at concerts, festivals and venues all over Vancouver Island.
Runners up: Gord Clements (gordclements.com); Chris Millington.
Top Hardcore/Metal/Punk Artist or Group
Class of 1984 (class-of-1984.com)
The current members of Class of 1984 are veterans of the punk and hardcore scene on Vancouver Island. They’ve been performing in one band or another since the ‘90s and are bringing back the sound and feel of the old skate punk scene with their music.
Runners up: Rotterdam (reverbnation.com/rotterdam); The Rebel Spell (therebelspell.com); Psychosomatic ITCH (facebook.com/psychosomaticITCH).
Top Avant Garde/New Music Artist/Composer or Group
The Aventa Ensemble (aventa.ca)
Aventa, founded in 2003, is an ensemble with a mission statement of performing and fostering new music in British Columbia and Canada. The group is comprised of musicians who are passionate about new music, as they regularly commission both Canadian and international composers.
Runners up: Kristy Farkas; Alex Jang (soundcloud.com/alex-jang); Christopher Reiche (christopherreiche.tumblr.com); Daniel Brandes (danielbrandes.tumblr.com).
Top Classical Artist or Group
Victoria Symphony (victoriasymphony.ca)
After 73 years, the Victoria Symphony remains the premier arts organization in the region, showcasing the skilled musicianship of more than 50 artists. The symphony season kicks off in the fall, and runs through spring. The orchestra is also the highlight of the annual Symphony Splash festival in the Inner Harbour.
Runners up: Pacific Opera Victoria (pov.bc.ca); Emily Carr String Quartet (emilycarrstringquartet.com); LaFayette String Quartet (lafayettestringquartet.ca); Sooke Philharmonic (sookephil.ca); Victoria Bach Ensemble (victoriabachensemble.com).
Victoria Philharmonic Choir
The Victoria Philharmonic Choir is an auditioned choir featuring the best of Victoria’s vocal talent. The VPC provides Victoria and Vancouver Island with live performances of choral music of the highest calibre.
Runners up: Gettin’ Higher Choir; Vox Humana; Ensemble Laude; The Linden Singers; Hexaphone; Via Choralis.
Top Live Music Venue
Alix Goolden Performance Hall
The Alix Goolden Performance Hall, formerly a church sanctuary, is an elegant 800-seat venue that features fine acoustics, in a stunning setting that features a vaulted ceiling, filigree iron railings, carved wooden pews and intricate stained glass windows. Alix Goolden Hall plays host to many acclaimed international performers each year, while also serving the needs of the Victoria Conservatory of Music students and faculty and the local community.
Runners up: Phillips Backyard; Lucky Bar; Club 9one9; St. Ann’s Academy.
Top Concert Promoter
Atomique Productions (atomiqueproductions.com)
It’s no wonder Atomique Productions, the brains behind Rifflandia and Rock the Shores (which happened to be voted the Top Music Festivals, one and two respectively, in this year’s M Awards) handily won this category. The guys sure know how to throw a rockin’ party, while shining the spotlight on some talented local and international musicians.
Runners up: Victoria BC Ska Society (victoriaskafest.ca); High Tide Entertainment (hightideconcerts.net); CMCT Presents (facebook.com/cmctpresents); Global Arts concerts (globalarts.ca).
Top Studio Producer
This former Armchair Cynic launched Infiniti Records in 2007. The musician/producer subsequently built the world-class Infiniti Mastering. Sutherland has worked with a wide range of artists, including Acres of Lions, Vince Vaccaro, Steph MacPherson, David Gogo, JP Maurice and more.
Runners up: Jason Cook; Joby Baker; Myke Hall.
Top Music Open Mic
Sunday Hootenanny at Logan’s Pub
Logan’s hosts Victoria’s most popular open mic night for the third year running in the M Awards. The long-running Sunday hoedown, started by Carolyn Mark, is a great weekly event you have to see – and hear – for yourself.
Runners up: Friday nights at Cornerstone Cafe; Bluegrass Jam Circle at James Bay Coffee and Books; Victoria Folk Music Society Sunday nights at Norway House.
Top Supporter of Local Music
The Zone @ 91-3
With the popular radio station’s “Band of the Month” program, promoting local bands and artists, it’s no surprise these modern rock supporters are receiving the M Award in this category. They also actively promote local live music and other events around town, and tune in to their programming any day of the week and you’re sure to hear some homegrown talent getting air time on their station.
Top Overall Production
My Fair Lady (Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre)
Blue Bridge capped off its 2013 summer season with My Fair Lady. The show was directed and choreographed by 2013 M Award winner for Favourite Performer, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, and starred Amanda Lisman as Eliza Doolittle and Blue Bridge’s artistic director Brian Richmond as Henry Higgins.
Runners up: The Skin of Our Teeth (UVic Phoenix); Calendar Girls (Langham Court Theatre); From the Heart: enter into the journey of reconciliation (Will Weigler, Inter-Cultural Association); In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)(Theatre Inconnu).
Top Original Production
An Improvised Quentin Tarantino (Paper Street Theatre Co.)
Winners of the 2013 Victoria Fringe Festival’s coveted Audience Pick of the Fringe prize, this fully improvised show is packed with clever dialogue, grindhouse music and just enough violence to pay homage to this Reservoir Dog of a filmmaker. The group has since gone on to perform an equally-as-funny An Improvised John Hughes.
Runners up: Kitt and Jane (SNAFU dance theatre); War of the Eagles (Kaleidoscope Theatre); An Improvised Dungeons and Dragons (Intrepid Theatre Club); From the Heart: enter into the journey of reconciliation (Will Weigler, Inter-Cultural Association); Judgement Day (New Blood Theatre); El Jinete (Puente Theatre); Fractured Fables (SNAFU & William Head on Stage).
Top Improv/Sketch or Variety Show
Atomic Vaudeville (atomicvaudeville.com)
Celebrating a decade in Victoria this year, Atomic Vaudeville is the award-winning performance company that produces a masterful and hilarious monthly cabaret show. They’re also known for their productions, which have been performed in Vancouver, Toronto, Seattle, Bellingham, Prague and New York.
Runners up: The Cheesecake Burlesque Review (cheesecakeburlesque.com); Paper Street Theatre Co. (facebook.com/paperstreettheatre); Sin City (sincityimprov.com); Derwin Blanshard (Wes Borg) (derwinblanshard.com); Watch 4 Bones (Launch Pad Productions).
Top Emerging Company/Artist
Impulse Theatre (impulsetheatre.ca)
Impulse Theatre creates highly engaging and physical works that explore the human environment. The company’s work is broad, looks into the dark places of the human condition, breaks them open, and shines in some light. Impulse has performed at Victoria Fringe Fest and Theatre SKAM’s Bike Ride.
Runners up: Gotta Getta Gimmick (gggarts.org); Epiphany Productions (epiphanyproductionstheatre.wordpress.com); Scrumpy Productions (scrumpyproductions.com); New Blood Theatre; Kerploding Theatre (kerplodingtheatre.tumblr.com); Break Contemporary Circus (facebook.com/BCCircus); Determined Illusions.
My Fair Lady (Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre)
See Top Overall Production.
Runners up: Miss Saigon (Victoria Operatic Society); El Jinete- a mariachi opera (Puente Theatre); Side by Side by Sondheim (Saltwater Inc.).
Top Local Actor
Amanda Lisman (My Fair Lady)
After a stint in Toronto, this Victoria native returned home to perform in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s successful staging of My Fair Lady. Despite a string of dramatic roles, her roots in comedy sure came in handy playing the unrefined, Cockney Eliza Doolittle.
Runner up: Jacob Richmond (True West)
Michael Shamata (The Belfry Theatre)
As artistic director of The Belfry Theatre, Michael Shamata plays an influential role in the company’s productions each year. With up to 12 plays produced annually, Shamata leads The Belfry in staging well-crafted and innovative shows.
Runners up: Sara-Jeanne Hosie (My Fair Lady); Linda Hardy (The Skin of Our Teeth); Timothy Vernon (Pacific Opera Victoria); Christine Willes (Reasons to Be Pretty).
Top Local Dance Production
Dance Days (Presented by Dance Victoria)
Not everyone’s an expert dancer, but Dance Victoria’s Dance Days provides movers and shakers of all skill levels with a slough of free classes, workshops, demonstrations and shows. From ballet and hip hop to African and Bollywood dancing, Dance Days is a terrific annual event – and a well-deserved M Award winner – that makes accessible a wide variety of dance styles.
Runner up: Bounce Dance Cabaret.
Top Local Dancer/Company
Ballet Victoria (balletvictoria.ca)
Every day, 12 professional dancers and apprentices create beautiful, original works out of the dance studio behind Victoria’s St. Andrews Church. This is where innovation happens. Ballet Victoria, under artistic director Paul Destroopers, performs a number of shows throughout the year, including Frankenstein: A Zombie Love Story for 2013, and Carmina Burana earlier this spring.
Runners up: Broken Rhythms; Suddenly Dance Theatre (suddenlydance.ca); Ballet Étoile Canada (balletetoilecanada.com).
Biggest Supporter of Performing Arts
This posthumous honour could not go a more deserving supporter of the performing arts in Victoria. Allan Wilcox was a staple in Victoria’s arts community and a much-loved presence at the Victoria Fringe Festival, where his dedication, dry wit and signature humour made a huge impact on countless generations of Fringers – artists, volunteers and audiences alike. He touched the lives of so many in his 17-year involvement with the Board of Directors at Intrepid Theatre, greeting audiences at the Fringe with a smile and a story (and a show recommendation), entertaining artists on the drive to and from the airport and always offering insight and a hearty laugh. Wilcox was also actively involved on the boards of Atomic Vaudeville and the Victoria Events Centre. His passing leaves a huge hole in the theatre landscape in Victoria and one that M Award voters know will be difficult to fill. Wilcox passed away on May 10 of this year.
Top Improv/Sketch or Variety Performer
While Wes Borg can be regularly spotted sporting a guitar for his musical comedy or killing some straight-ahead standup, he is a standout when he’s put on the spot. From his gig on Sin City, the Live Improvised Serial Soap, to his monthly appearances as Derwin Blanshard or the host of Phillips Comedy Night, audiences are in good hands with the expert improviser.
Runners up: Morgan Cranny; Dave Morris; Karen Brelsford; Justine Shore.
As the host of The Zone @ 91-3’s morning show and Hecklers, Victoria’s professional comedy stage, Jason Lamb has carved out a place for himself in the hearts of local comedy lovers and M Award voters – and anyone who’s ever wished to meet their idol. Remember Lamb’s video pleas to interview John Cleese and Steve Martin? We do, because there’s nothing more endearing than watching someone’s dream come true.
Runners up: Mike Delamont; Wes Borg; Kirsten Van Ritzen; Sean Proudlove; James Ball.
Top Up and Coming Comedian
The drink slinger by day, comic by night has been everywhere in the last year, from community theatre to the amateur comedy stage for which he is known. Perhaps most notable of his appearances is at The Copper Owl, where along with Chris Vickers, Bangma started the monthly evening of music and comedy, Come and Play with Ryan and Chris.
Runners up: Abdul Aziz; Shane Priestly; Shawn O’Hara; Alain Williams; Justine Auben-Drummond; Myles Anderson; Darcy Collins.
Top Comedy Night
Phillips Comedy Night
The Victoria Event Centre hosts all kinds of shenanigans on the regular and provides a vital space for the city. There are few things we love more than to see illustrious host Wes Borg back a faltering amateur comedian at the piano with his fine balance of loving encouragement and well-timed sarcasm. Apparently our readers feel the same.
Runners up: Hecklers Comedy Night; Ratfish Comedy Show.
Top Visual Artist
Rande Cook (randecook.com)
This First Nations artist doesn’t confine himself to one artistic medium. Born into a culture-rich community and having studied under master wood sculptors and metal artists, Cook showcases his skills on a wide variety of media, including paintings, rugs, and working with wood, gold and silver.
Runners up: Clement Kwan (clementkwan.com); Linny D Vine (linnydvine.com); Timothy Wilson Hoey (timothyhoey.com); Rick Silas (ricksilas.wordpress.com).
Top Emerging Visual Artist
Though a relative newcomer to Vancouver Island, Debra Olsen spent time on Salt Spring Island honing her craft and putting her mixed media pieces on display. This Iowa native says colour, texture, pattern, balance and repetition all work together in her artwork.
Runners up: Jenny Hainsworth; E.R Gott; Cameron Kidd; Alan De Haan.
Top Art Event
TD Art Gallery Paint-In (Moss Street)
There’s no better way to explore the natural beauty of Moss Street than to have it filled with talented Victoria artists, brushing up on their skills along the street. This annual event, which celebrated 27 years in July, attracts thousands every year, highlighting artists working in any and all mediums.
Runners up: Victoria Chalk Art Festival; Integrate Arts Festival (formerly Off the Grid Art Crawl); Sooke Fine Arts; Art in the Garden (at Glendale Gardens); Sidney Fine Art Show; LOOK Show (Community Arts Council).
Top Art Gallery
The Fifty Fifty Arts Collective
Fifty Fifty is a non-profit artist-run centre that provides space for artists of all disciplines who have yet to be defined in the mainstream. These supporters of the independent art scene regularly host events and shows throughout the year to highlight the best of Victoria’s artists.
Runners up: Winchester Galleries; Victoria Emerging Art Gallery; Madrona Gallery; West End Gallery LTD; Eclectic Gallery; Peninsula Gallery.
Top Art Show
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (Royal BC Museum)
This visually striking exhibition from London’s Natural History Museum showcases more than 100 of the world’s best wildlife and nature images. Enjoy the wonders of nature through the lenses of prize-winning photographers, as each photo and accompanying caption tells the inspirational, astonishing and sometimes humorous stories of our fascinating natural world.
Runners up: First Nations and Metis art show (Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula); The Limners: A Victoria Legacy (Winchester Galleries).
Top Local Book
Raven Brings the Light by Roy Henry Vickers & Robert Budd
A story that’s been passed on from generation to generation for more than 3,000, Vickers’ colourful artwork bring this beautiful story to life. This version of the story – of a boy named Weget who is born destined to bring the light back to Earth – originates from one told to the author by Chester Bolton, Chief of the Ravens, from the village of Kitkatla around 1975.
Runners up: Cocktail Culture: Recipes & Techniques from Behind the Bar by Shawn Soole & Nate Caudle; Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism by Thelma Fayle; The Land of Heart’s Delight by Michael Layland; Blissful by Heather Cunliffe; Every Happy Family by Dede Crane.
A media artist, curator and educator, Bradley has created more than 50 short films and videos, four film installations and two web art projects. Her award-winning productions have screened at galleries and festivals around the world. Most recently Bradley wrote and directed the oddball romcom Two 4 One.
Runners up: Andrew Naysmith; Denver Jackson; Jeremy Lutter; Connor Gaston; Martin de Valk.
Top Local Film Event
Victoria Film Festival
Proud supporters of independent film-making, the Victoria Film Festival is this city’s premier opportunity to see some wonderful and unique storytelling on the big screen in February. The festival has grown to include more than just simple movie screenings. The Film Fest also hosts Art of the Cocktail, Foodie Film Fest and the Free-B Film Fest.
Runners up: Reel to Reel; Movie Monday; Antimatter [Media Art]; Open Cinema.
Top Spoken Word Event/Series
The Victoria Spoken Word Festival
These artists all have a way with words, and this festival is truly a masterful showcase of the writers who thrive in this world. The annual multi-day event attracts poets from across North America who take part in shows and workshops that all aim to highlight the evolution of spoken word.
Runners up: Tongues of Fire; VicSlam; Victorious Voices (high school slam poetry); Planet Earth Poetry.
Top Spoken Word Performer
Performance poet and active community builder Jeremy Loveday takes home his second consecutive M Award. This repeat member of the Victoria Poetry Slam team has represented Victoria on a national level. He’s also played an integral role in the City of Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate program and Victorious Voices.
Runners up: shayne avec i grec; Aysia Law.
Top Foodie/Boozie Event
Great Canadian Beer Festival
From its humble beginnings as a one-day indoor festival with 15 breweries and 1,500 people, the Great Canadian Beer Fest has grown into a world-class, two-day outdoor event that could attract as many as 85 breweries this year and 9,500 people.The festival, now in its 22nd year, has attracted 10 new BC breweries for the Sept. 5-6 event.
Runners up: Brewery and the Beast; Fernwood Bites; Feast of Fields; Victoria Whiskey Festival; TASTE; Art of the Cocktail; Culinaire; Uncork Your Palate (fundraiser for the Victoria Conservatory of Music).
Top Music Festival
Multiple stages, multiple venues and a hell of a lot of great music is why Monday readers chose Rifflandia as the Top Music Festival for another year. It started with a 10×10 tent and a handful of colourful pins in 2008. Since then, its grown to attract more than 100 international artists every year and huge crowds who aren’t shy in picking this as the most anticipated music event of the year.
Runners up: Rock The Shores (rocktheshores.com); Victoria International JazzFest (jazzvictoria.ca/jazz-fest); Victoria Ska Festival (victoriaskafest.ca/); Vancouver Island Blues Bash (jazzvictoria.ca/blues-bash); Victoria Summer Music Festival (vsmf.org); Victoria Electronic Music Festival (vemf.org).
Top Performing Arts Festival
Fringe Festival (victoriafringe.com)
Over the last 28 years, the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival has grown to become Vancouver Island’s biggest theatre event. This month, Fringe boasts more than 300 performances of 50 shows spread over 11 venues. Productions come from around the world, bringing 11 days of comedy, drama, dance, spoken word, physical theatre and a ton of fun to Victoria.
Runners up: Victoria Buskers Festival (victoriabuskers.com); Bike Ride (Theatre SKAM) (skam.ca); Uno Festival (intrepidtheatre.com/festivals/unofest); Spark Festival (belfry.bc.ca); Family Theatre Festival (Kaleidoscope Theatre) (kaleidoscope.bc.ca/season/ftf/); Bounce; Heritage Arts Festival.
Top Cultural Festival
Culture, entertainment, food and drink combine to make VIC Fest one of the most exciting festivals the city has to offer, and one that earned a well-deserved M Award. St. Ann’s Academy provides the perfect backdrop for artists and vendors – from food to fashion – to show off their craft in a positive festival setting.
Runners up: Highland Games & Celtic Festival; Victoria Dragonboat Festival; Greek Fest; Culture Days; Creatively United for the Planet; Victoria French Fest.