The Readers Have Spoken

Find out the winners of the 10th Annual M Awards. Read about our emcee Wes Borg, our entertainment Bucan Bucan and more!

  • Apr. 25, 2012 6:00 a.m.
The cast of Ride the Cyclone celebrate winning three trophies at the 10th Annual M Awards. Cyclone won for favourite overall production, director and musical.

The cast of Ride the Cyclone celebrate winning three trophies at the 10th Annual M Awards. Cyclone won for favourite overall production, director and musical.

For 10 years in a row, Monday has called upon you, the readers, to hand pick your favourite performers, bands, books, festivals and events from the previous year. What started as a relatively small event has grown to be a significant date in Victoria’s cultural calendar — and this year was our biggest party yet. From your votes, the Top 3 short-listed nominees were invited to the ritzy M Awards gala at Club 9ONE9 in the Strathcona Hotel. From that short list, the winner of each category was awarded a prized (uniquely different and locally sourced each year) M Award. This year’s cool trophy is a glass growler (shown left) from Phillips Brewing Company, plus a specially-minted coin that when exchanged at the brewery, magically fills the growler with a local Phillips’ brew of choice.

Every year, we receive great feedback on how the M Awards are one of the few times folks from every facet of our city’s cultural community get to cross-pollinate and hear about the diverse range of work that is being created right here in Victoria.

And once again, we saw thousands of people cast ballots. The winners were announced at our annual shindig on Tuesday, April 24, where local comedian, actor and Monday cover model Wes Borg delivered the prizes — and more than a few laughs — to a packed house. High energy musical entertainment was delivered by local gypsy brass band Bucan Bucan.

Keep reading for our full list of winners and discover what makes our arts community in Victoria so special. M

— Grant McKenzie, Editor-In-Chief, Monday Magazine.

Tooth & Nail: Your picks for top music talent


Favourite Solo Artist

Winner: Vince Vaccaro

In a tight race, local roots-rocker Vince Vaccaro came out victorious for Victoria’s favourite solo artist. 2011 was a big year for Vaccaro. He released a new independent EP The Dove, played the mainstage at our beloved Rifflandia and toured Australia. Vaccaro is passionate about the environment and released his latest EP on a digital download card that is embedded with wild flower seeds. Vaccaro is currently on tour in Australia.

Runners Up: Indie-folk artist Aidan Knight and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kathryn Calder.


Favourite Band

Winner: Current Swell

With $100,000 in the bank from their first place win at the Peak Performance Project, Current Swell’s support is surging. 2011 also marked the release of their second album, Long Time Ago, their first with bassist Ghosty, who joined the group three years ago. They completed a North American tour, played SXSW and Canadian Music Week, so chances are that 2012 is going to be an even bigger year for these indie rockers.

Runners Up: Rocky Mountain Rebel Music (2010 Favourite Band) and party rockers Slam Dunk.


Favourite Jazz/Blues Artist or Group

Winner: Marc Atkinson

Victoria is lucky to have the likes of Marc Atkinson. A Juno-nominated gypsy jazz multi-instrumentalist/composer/arranger/producer, Atkinson is the leader and composer for the Marc Atkinson Trio, and the Marc Atkinson Quartet. You can catch him performing around town often.

Runners Up: Cold Cut Combo — improvisational musicians specializing in Gypsy Jazz, Parisian Musette Waltzes and Swing & Latin standards; and drummer Josh Dixon (who passed away in January). This was one of the tightest races. Less than 20 votes separated first from third place.


Favourite Classical Performer

Winner: The Victoria Symphony

With annual festivals like Symphony Splash drawing tens of thousands of spectators to Victoria’s inner harbour, it’s no surprise that The Victoria Symphony beat out the second place finisher by more than 100 votes. Victorians love their symphony. Look forward to another great season with singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk and Grammy Award winning violinist James Ehnes in what will be Maestra Tania Miller’s 10th year with the symphony.

Runners Up: The ever-so talented Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, and the man who makes Victorias ladies swoon, Ken Lavigne.


Favourite Hardcore/Metal/Punk Artist or Group

Winner: Open Relationship

Monday cover ladies and cassette enthusiasts Open Relationship took this battle by only five votes over second place finishers Angry Snowmans. This all-female punk band is a breath of fresh air in Victoria’s punk scene. Catch their next show at Lucky Bar, May 13.

Runners Up: Festive rockers and Punk Rock Christmas band Angry Snowmans; and alternative modern rockers with a metal edge, SYN{A}PSE.


Favourite Roots/World Artist or Group

Winner: Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra

Even though the guys from Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra spend most of their year on the road, they still call Victoria home. Their unique style of cross-genre contemporary folk, sometimes called gypsy-roots-grass, meant they were highly sought after in 2011, touring venues across Canada and the U.S. A full-length album will be released soon. Look for this five-piece at Ska Fest this summer.

Runners Up: Our favourite roving gypsy marching band Bucan Bucan; and the wonderkind talents of Quinn and Qristina Bachand.


Favourite Hip Hop/R’n’B Artist or Group

Winner: Georgia Murray

2011 was a huge year for Georgia Murray. She had a strong showing on CBC’s Cover Me Canada, she had a single “We’ll Never Know” go #1 in South Korea (it was stolen, but she settled out of court, which paid for her to record an EP, Just a Dream.), and she’s garnered praise and fans alike for her powerful live performances. Look for new material coming soon.

Runners Up: Six-piece live hip hop band Fight in the Fields; and emcee Langdon Auger (The Illuminaugi – 2011).


Favourite Album

Winner: Long Time Ago — Current Swell

Long Time Ago is Current Swell’s fourth album. It’s a bit darker and more mature than their last offering, Protect Your Own — but just as fun. Long Time Ago offers that West Coast outdoor festival vibe we’ve come to love so much, mixed with solemn acoustic guitar, Spanish Flamenco style rhythms,  and even some country twang. You’ll all get the chance to catch their live show this summer at V.I.C. Fest and Rock the Shores.

Runners Up: Multi-instrumentalist  Kathryn Calder with Bright and Vivid; and bluegrass and old-timey band The Stowaways with Livin’ on the Island.


Favourite Electronic Music/DJ

Winner: DJ Longshanks

You know him best as a four-year resident DJ at Lucky Bar every Saturday night. They describe him as “a stylistic Swiss army knife; from Bowie to Daft Punk, dubstep to glitch hop, he manages to squeeze a myriad of sounds into every Saturday night SOLID! Party.” You can also find him behind the counter at Ditch Records. Solid win for DJ Longshanks in this category. Check out what he listen to last year here (

Runners Up: DJ Murge (playing a show April 28 at Hush with Mat the Alien); and Toby Emerson, who made his start at Sunset Room and has truly gone global.


Favourite Vocal Ensemble

Winner: Ensemble Laude

Three years running, Ensemble Laude is voted Victoria’s favourite in this category. Lead by Elizabth MacIsaac, Ensemble Laude women’s choir is dedicated to singing early (pre-1600) and multicultural choral repetoir.  They just debuted their first commissioned work, “Seulete Suy” by Canadian composer Nicholas Fairbank at their spring concert April 22. Your next chance to hear them live is Sunday, May 6, 2012 at Providence Farm, 1843 Tzouhalem Road, Duncan.

Runners Up: The 300-voice “come as you are” Gettin’ Higher Choir; and the 55-voice mixed choir — The Linden Singers.


Club 9ONE9’s Favourite Emerging Artist

Winner: Man Made Lake

Man Made Lake made their start some years ago in communist China and since they’ve been back on Canadian soil and acquired some new members, they’re making their mark on the indie-rock scene here in Victoria. They released a new EP Strong Man in 2011, which is available for download on their bandcamp page.

Runners Up: A three-way tie between SYN{A}PSE, Georgia Murray and Bonehoof.


Biggest Supporter of Local Music

Winner: Logan’s Pub

You can find almost any genre of music being played live on stage at Logan’s Pub — from bluegrass and country to hardcore and punk rock. Every week is a buffet here, there’s a little something for every taste and dietrary restriction. And they host two of the best open mics in the city. It’s no wonder you voted them biggest supporter of local music — by almost three times as many votes as its competitors in this category.

Runners Up: Three-way tie between Lucky Bar, Atomique Productions and Dane Roberts (Victoria Ska Society).


Favourite Record Store

Winner: Ditch Records

Ditch Records is the clearly the record store that scratches Victoria’s itch for vinyl, CDs, concert tickets and more. Having moved into a bright and spacious new location at 784 Fort St just over a year ago, they were able to increase their selection immensely. Plus they’re just nice people. And they like stuff!

Runners Up: Lyle’s Place — a fixture in the Victoria music scene for more than 30 years; and record store and pop culture gallery, Talk’s Cheap.


Favourite Live Music Venue

Winner: Lucky Bar

An intimate room with a great stage, Lucky Bar consistently plays host to some of Victoria’s best live shows. Some of the best from 2011 included Plants and Animals, Kathryn Calder, Kim Churchill and Grimes,  And they were a night venue for Rifflandia 4.

Runners Up: Victoria Conservatory of Music’s grand venue, Alix Goolden Hall; and all around good time, Sugar Nightclub.


Best Open Mic

Winner: Logan’s Pub

As mentioned earlier, Logan’s hosts two of your favourite open mics in the city — two days in a row! Go down Sunday after 4p.m. for Carolyn Mark’s world famous Hootenanny and a good afternoon beer buzz. Come back the next evening for Steve Barries’ sensational open mic. Both promise great local talent and both are free.

Runners Up: Wednesday nights belong to the Fort Street Cafe; and spoken word poetry promoter Tongues of Fire takes third.


Favourite Concert Promoter

Winner: Atomique Productions

Atomique brought us an epic time and some fantastic memories at Rifflandia 4, their four-day mixed-genre outdoor/indoor, make-your-own music festival. They also brought Big Sugar, Arkells, Bedoin Soundclash, K-OS, Broken Social Scene and Ohbijou to our fair city.

Runners Up: Dane Roberts (Victoria Ska Society); and Clove and Anchor Entertainment.


Fantastic Theatre: Victoria shines on stage


Favourite New Production

Winner: The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts (Best Bitts Productions)

In the tightest race in the competition, The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts takes first place. Using burlesque, comedy, drama and music Miss Rosie Bitts explores the sexual politics of female nudity, pornography and erotica in her one-woman show that debuted in Victoria last year and played to audiences at the Victoria, Winnipeg and Nanaimo Fringe Festivals. Written by Bitts, J McLaughlin and Wes Borg. There were only six votes difference between first and third place in this category. Only two votes separating each winner.

Runners Up: The live improvised soap opera Sin City Carnies (Broad Theatrics); and Pacific Opera Victoria’s commissioned opera, Mary’s Wedding.


Favourite Overall Production

Winner: Ride the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudeville and the Belfry Theatre)

A stand-alone sequel to Legoland, this musical about a chamber choir from small town Saskatchewan who die in a tragic rollercoaster accident brought morbid joy to Victoria, Whitehorse and Toronto in 2011. A partnership with the Belfry meant a tighter show; a new, easily transportable set; and even a lazer. It played to sold-out audiences everywhere and AV is in talks to bring it to New York. Starring Rielle Braid, Matthew Coulson, Kelly Hudson, Elliott Loran, Sarah Jane Pelzer, Kholby Wardell and Hank Pine.

Runners Up: The feisty Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre); and the controversial The Laramie Project (Langham Court Theatre)


Favourite Musical

Winner: Ride the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudeville and the Belfry Theatre)

Ride the Cyclone wasn’t just a lot of fun, it had a great score and an even better cast. Each took turns singing their last curtain call, from Broadway, to rock ‘n’ roll, spooky swing, classical and rap. Lyrics and music by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond.

Runners Up: 2 Pianos, 4 Hands a tale of duelling pianos at the Belfry Theatre; and Son of Africville — an Intrepid Theatre Uno Fest Production by Justin Carter.


Favourite Performer

Winner: Meg Tilly — Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre

Director Brian Richmond describes the dark and humorous play about modern marriage as a “tragic-comic bitch fest” and “one of the great plays of the modern theatre.”

Our reviewer, Kelly Dunning, says Meg Tilly ”Strolls into the role of Martha with the utmost swagger and confidence. She puts her entire body into the performance, throwing her head back with every loud braying laugh and swinging her hips seductively. She plays every note on the scale of human emotion, from quiet fear to flamboyant bravado.” Judging by the number of votes she received, our readers agreed.

Runners Up: Melissa Blank (A Day in the Death of Joe Egg — Theatre Inconnu); and Sylvia Rhodes (The Lady in the Van — Langham Court Theatre).


Favourite Director

Winner: Jacob Richmond and Britt Small — Ride the Cylcone (Atomic Vaudeville and the Belfry Theatre)

Atomic Vaudeville co-founders Jacob Richmond and Britt Small were the clear winners in this category. Twice the votes for twice the directors, I guess. This is also a case of son-beats-father-at-his-own-game. Chalk one up for the younger generation.

Runners Up: Jacob’s father and artistic director of Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Brian Richmond (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?); and Graham McDonald for his take on Simon Stephen’s Pornography (Theatre Inconnu).


Favourite Dance Performance by a Local Company

Winner: Cheesecake Burlesque Revue

The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue continue to be Victoria’s sweethearts with their sassy singing and choreography. But they’re spreading the love around. Members represented the Cheesecakes at burlesque festivals around the globe, including Betsy Bottom Dollar in New Orleans, Champagne Sparkles in Paris and Maya Papaya, Ginger Kittens, Wild Honey and Betsy Bottom Dollar in New York. They were also named B.C. Touring Council Touring Artist of the Year.

Runners Up: Bach meets Pink Floyd in Ballet Rocks by Ballet Victoria; and annual favourite The Nutcracker Suite by Canadian Pacific Ballet.


Favourite Comedy Performer

Winner: Wes Borg

Our lovely emcee and last year’s winner, Wes Borg captures the title again. And that’s no wonder. He’s one of the people responsible for the explosion of comedy events throughout the city. With a gig as the host of the Phillips Comedy Night and a weekly cast member of Sin City: Carnies, Borg has made his mark on Victoria in the four short years he’s called our fair city home. Read more about him on Page 13.

Runners Up: Mike Delamont; and Dave Morris (Same exact results from last year).



Biggest Supporter of Local Theatre

Winner: Ian Case (Giggling Iguana Productions, former General Manager of Intrepid Theatre)

Although Ian Case recently moved to a new position as director of the University Farquhar Auditorium, he is best known for his tireless work over the last 10 years as general manager of Intrepid Theatre. Under his direction, their annual Fringe and Uno Festivals have become world-class events drawing ever-increasing crowds. We expect he’ll maintain Giggling Iguana’s site-specific shows at Craigdarroch Castle in the fall.

Runners Up: Creators of the Incubator project and the Spark Festival, The Belfry Theatre;  and social media maven Janis Lacouvee.


Biggest Supporter of Local Dance

Winner: Dance Victoria

Dance Victoria beat out it’s competition in this category by a single point, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they consistently present some of the best dance productions in Victoria every year. In 2011, Dance Victoria brought Victoria audiences the National Ballet of Canada (featuring our own Crystal Pite) and Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance. They also offer studio rentals, dance classes and the always popular Dance Days where Victorians get ten days of free dance classes in studios throughout the city.

Runners Up: The classical and contemporary Ballet Victoria; and home of Big Dance, Lynda Raino Dance.


Favourite Spoken Word Performer

Winner: Missie Peters

Founder of Not Your Grandma’s Poetry and the Victoria Spoken Word Festival (in it’s second year), and the hugely popular fundraiser Poetry in the Raw, Missie Peters is almost synonymous with spoken word in Victoria. But that’s not all, Peters is one part of dynamic spoken word duo SpeakEasy with her partner Dave Morris, who is also a top finisher in this category. Catch SpeakEasy as part of Site and Sound at the Royal B.C. Museum April 28 at 7 p.m.

Runners Up: Jeremy Loveday of Tongues of Fire;  Dave Morris and shayne avec i grec tied for thrid place.





Favourite Visual Artist

Winner: April Caverhill

Book and magazine illustrator April Caverhill is also a painter and fibre artist. Her piece, Vive le Velo (Cycling is good for body and soul) appeared on the cover of our Summer Guide in 2011. The bright, colourful work is illustrative of April’s sunny and sumptuous  style. Look for another summery submission for our Summer Guide cover, coming out May 24.

Runners Up: The incredibly talented and detailed painter Steve Chmilar; and multi-media artist Deryk Houston.


Favourite Art Show

Winner: Greenwash (Open Space)

Greenwash was an exhibit investigating the complicated relationships between natural and artificial ecosystems through a series of artist projects. Work by Kyath Battie, Rachel Evans, Scott Evans, Robert Hengeveld, Marlene Jess and Xane St. Phillip contributed to the exhibition, which ran at Open Space.

Runners Up: Retinal Circus, a show of concert posters by the legendary Bob Masse (Olio Artists and Workers Co-operative); and an exhibition of drawings by Inuit artists from Cape Dorset (on the southern tip of Baffin Island) in Contemporary North (Madrona Gallery)


Biggest Supporter of Local Visual Arts

Winner: Joey MacDonald (Olio Artists and Workers Co-operative)

For the second year running, Joey MacDonald takes this category. As one of the founding members of Olio Artists and Workers Co-operative, MacDonald is a force to be reckoned with in Victoria’s arts and music scenes.

Runners Up: Airbrush bodypaint and mixed media artist Kristin Urbanheart Grant; the always inclusive and intriguiing Open Space.


Favourite Art Gallery

Winner: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

With events like Art Attire, the TD Art Gallery Paint-In and the ever-popular house tour, the AGGV is a mainstay in Victoria’s visual scene. Last year’s special exhibitions included Chinese ceramics, The Modern Eye, A Brush with War and more. In 2011, the AGGV also began offering family passes for rent at the Greater Victoria Public Library (Yes, that’s right. You can bring your family of four to the AGGV free with one of these passes. Get your name on the reservation list soon if you want to use one in 2012.

Runners Up: New contemporary kid on the block: Madrona Gallery;  and Victoria’s oldest artist-run co-op, Open Space.


Favourite Multi-Media Event

Winner: TedX Victoria

TEDx Victoria is an independently organized idea-sharing event. In the spirit of TED Talks, the organizers  gather together leading thinkers and doers from around the Island for one-day events that inspire ideas and unforeseen connections.

Runners Up: Pecha Kucha and its 20 slides, 20 seconds each presentations; and last year’s winner, Jazz at the Gallery.


Favourite Art Event

Winner: Fernwood Pole Painting Project (Fernwood NRG)

This four-hour neighbourhood event organized by the Fernwood NRG really brightened up Fernwood and gave people an avenue to express themselves creatively. Painters are assigned a pole and provided with materials. There was also a bbq and entertainment afterwards.

Runners Up: Off the Grid Art Crawl (Ministry of Casual Living); and Victoria Emerging Art Awards (Victoria Emerging Art Gallery).


Favourite Emerging Visual Artist

Winner: Kristin Urbanheart Grant

There’s no doubt that Kristin Grant is an extremely talented young artist. Her airbrush makeup work was featured on Monday’s Halloween Cover (Boo Grass Scare Dance) and has been seen on catwalks and competitions throughout the Island and beyond. But she can do so much more than makeup, Grant paints on canvasses, people, walls, windows, fabrics and anything else that will sit still. She’s also the person responsible for Ballet Victoria’s incredible promo materials this year.

Runners Up: Morgana Wallace;

Erik Volet.


Favourite Filmmaker

Winner: Jeremy Lutter

Director, filmmaker and storyteller Jeremy Lutter is a local guy who stands out — and, due to his height, above — the crowd. But it’s his work that helps him stand out most. He was awarded the MPPIA Short Film Award (2010) at the Whistler Film Festival for the Broken Mirror Films and Like Minded Media short, Joanna Makes a Friend (which premiered in Whistler the following year and won the Metropol Audience Favourite Short at the 2012 Victoria Film Festival). His music videos have also appeared on Much Music.

Runners Up: Denver Jackson of DJAXX Studio; and CineVic president Jim Knox.


Biggest Supporter of Local Film

Winner: Bryan Skinner

Previously voted as Victoria’s Hardest Working Person in Local Film (2008 M Awards), and last year’s winner in this category, it’s no surprise that Bryan Skinner, executive director of CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers is Victoria’s first choice.

Runners Up: Hoggwild Films’ Daniel Hogg, and Jordan Clark (The Aswang Phenomenon, Bangkok Girl).


Favourite Film Event

Winner: Victoria Film Festival

The Victoria Film Festival is the clear winner in Favourite Film Event, taking the win by almost 300 votes over their next competitor. The 2011 festival offered hand-picked movies from around the world, some that were later honoured with prestigious nominations including Genie-nominated films such as Trigger, and Leave them Laughing; as well as Oscar-nominated films  Biutiful, In a Better World, The Illusionist, and Incendies (also Genie nominated).

Runners Up: Best deal-in-town Movie Monday at the Eric Martin pavillion; and the radical underground Antimatter Film Festival.





Favourite Fiction Book

Winner: Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Victoria-based national favourite Esi Edugyan has had quite a year — winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Man Booker Prize and the Writers’ Trust Award and, most recently, named as one of six finalists for Britain’s prestigious Orange Prize. Along with becoming a new mother, now Edugyan can add scoring an M Award to her long list of achievements.

Runners Up: Prick: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist by Ashley Little, and Hunt of the Unicorn by C.C. Humphreys.


Favourite Non-Fiction Book

Winner: Walk Like a Man by Robert Wiersema

Wiersema has been a Bruce Springsteen fan since he was a teenager, and his blend of biography, music criticism and memoir expose how Springsteen remains a paragon of all that is cool in the world of rock. Like the best mix tapes, Monday readers agreed that Walk Like a Man balances joy and sorrow, laughter and the questions that haunt us all.

Runners Up: Glorious Victorians by Nick Russel, and Death Benefits by Sarah N. Harvey.


Favourite Book of Poetry

Winner: Small Mechanics by Lorna Crozier

After being named an Officer of the Order of Canada and winning the Governor General’s Literary Award, Monday readers have spoken and proved that Crozier’s radiant new collection of poems touches on themes everyone can relate to: the passing of time, the small mechanics of the body as it ages and the fine-tuning of what a life becomes when parents and old friends are gone.

Runners Up: Apologetic by Carla Funk, and Unearthed by Janet M. Rogers (Victoria’s Poet Laureate).


Biggest Supporter of Local Literature

Winner: Bolen Books

Bolen Books has been a stronghold in the community since 1975, and has become one of the biggest bookstores in the community, specializing in local authors and dedicating their space to general interests reads from kids books to science fiction, cooking to travel and everything in between. With more than 50 staff members and nationally known author signings (think Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley and Esi Edugyan), Monday readers had a hard choice but picked Bolen’s as their top supporter of the local lit scene.

Runners Up: Government Street hotspot Munro Books, and bookie favourite Greater Victoria Public Library.



Favourite Foodie Event

Winner: Dine Around Victoria

Hosted by Tourism Victoria, Dine Around won a landslide vote from Monday readers who wanted it known how much they like sampling local restaurants and hotel fare. During the festival, which just celebrated its ninth year in Victoria, 54 participating restaurants lowered their usual prices to offer three-course menus, and 14 establishments offered celiac-friendly menus. Meanwhile, participating hotels offered one-night room rates at low rates. The special opportunity for visitors and locals to explore all the treats of the city has not gone unnoticed.

Runners Up: Chef event Feast of Fields, and the Fernwood NRG’s Fernwood Bites.



Favourite Boozy Event

Winner: Great Canadian Beer Festival

The Great Canadian Beer Festival has become one of the worlds’ must-attend beer events. First held in Victoria in 1993, people from all over the globe seek out Victoria and the GCBF every year — brewers come from as far as Australia, while volunteers show up from England and all over. Monday readers have made it clear in an overwhelming majority: we love our Beer Fest.

Runners Up: Spirited fall favourite Art of the Cocktail, and Canadian College of Performing Arts fundraiser Casino Royale.


Favourite Music Event or Festival

Winner: Rifflandia

Rifflandia fans need hear no more: four days, nine stages, 110 artists. When it comes to local music marvels, it doesn’t get better than this. Riff started with a 10×10 tent and a handful of colourful pins. Since its 2008 maelstrom of popularity, 1,500 attendees has turned into over 4,000, and Monday readers aren’t shy in picking the festival in a landslide as their most anticipated event every year.

Runners Up: Non-profit event Victoria Electronic Music Festival; and Victoria’s new folk festival FolkWest.


Favourite Non-Music Event or Festival

Winner: Fringe Festival (Intrepid Theatre)

Over the last 25 years the Fringe has grown to become Vancouver Island’s biggest theatre event. In 2011, 72 international independent performing companies descended on the city for 11 days and nights of comedy, drama, dance, spoken word, and physical theatre. With over 430 performances in 13 venues, Monday readers said “Yes, please!”

Runners Up: Naked spoken word event Poetry in the Raw, and talent expedition Victoria International Buskers Festival.


Favourite New Festival

Winner: FolkWest

Victoria’s vibrant folk-roots music scene was crying out to be heard, and local musician, Oliver Swain, had a dream to do just that. Now, almost three years in the making, the newest folk music festival to hit the city has launched as a clear favourite for residents and Monday readers. FolkWest had an aim to present a festival planted in folk tradition and committed to creating something new and, if votes are any indication, the crew successfully did just that.

Runners Up: Theatrical favourite Victoria Festival of Spoken Word, and a two-way tie for third with the Vancouver Island Cultural (V.I.C.) Festival and the Victoria International Buskers Festival.


Favourite Athlete or Team

Winner: Victoria Royals

The Victoria Royals boys are the city’s newest in to the Western Hockey League (WHL), with the major junior team playing its first year here after the league announced the team’s relocation from Chilliwack as the former Bruins. This move marked the return of the WHL to Vancouver Island 17 years after the departure of the Victoria Cougars, and the Royals have become an obvious favourite to all local hockey fans and Monday readers.

Runners Up: Roller derby annihilators Eves of Destruction, and expert bards Victoria Poetry Slam Team.


Favourite Not-For-Profit

Winner: Ensemble Laude Victoria

Ensemble Laude began back in 1998, with 12 singers focused solely on medieval music. Since then, it has expanded into a vibrant community choir of up to 40 vocalists with a broad range of music, and performs several concerts throughout southern Vancouver Island each year. Monday readers have spoken and the choir’s efforts of raising funds for local charities like the Rainbow Kitchen, The Somenos Women’s Shelter and Women in Need (WIN) proudly stands out.

Runners Up: Stage masters Intrepid Theatre, and poverty advocates Victoria Cool-Aid Society.


Newsmaker of the Year

Winner: The Blue Bridge

Old Blue has made headlines for years now, but with the beginning of her deconstruction started this past fall and controversy over how the city and taxpayers will cover the increasing costs of her redesign (the new tab is sitting at $92.8 million), it’s little wonder that Monday readers named the Johnson Street Blue Bridge as top Newsmaker of the Year. We only wish she could have made it to the party.

Runners Up: Victoria City Councillor Lisa Helps, and a two-way tie for third between Victoria’s famous hugger Rita Chand and the Occupy Victoria movement. M




Comedy staple Wes Borg takes songs out of baggie for solo album

You may know Wes Borg as the host of Phillips Comedy Night at the Victoria Event Centre, or as the Shill in Sin City: Carnies, the live improvised soap opera, or even as an Atomic Vaudeville regular or two-time M Award winner for Favourite Comedy Performer and gracious emcee. Or maybe you don’t know him at all and think that both “The White House Burned (The War of 1812)” and “The Toronto Song” are songs by the Arrogant Worms. (They’re not. Both were written by Borg’s comedy troupe, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, and are often wrongly attributed to the Worms.)

When Borg started hosting the Phillips Comedy night three years ago, the comedy scene in Victoria was pretty undeveloped and there weren’t many events happening around town. However, in the last three years, more regular comedy events have been popping up, something Borg hopes he had something to do with.

“When I got here four years ago, there was no local standup,” says Borg. “Now there are a few sources of comedy around town, and I like to think I’m one of them.”

Borg is endeavouring to record his first solo album of comedy songs at a live concert, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 29 at the Victoria Event Centre. The concert will also be recorded for a DVD.

“I love Victoria,” says Borg. “It smells like fish and flowers and there’s a lot of killer musicians in this town.”

Joining Borg for the recording concert are local musicians J McLaughlin, M.D. Wren and Tolan McNeil. The first set will feature their music, the second will be all Borg.

“I will be playing the newer hits like “I’m Just a Little Dumb (whenever you come around),” “Every OS Sucks,” “Get Me The Fuck Out Of Edmonton,” and the children’s classic, “Worse Than Hitler;” as well as old classics like “Toronto Sucks” and “The War of 1812.”

Expect to see a finished album sometime around the end of May. Also, look for Borg along with Morgan Cranny and Mike Delamont at the 2012 Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival. They’re doing a stand-alone sequel to their Fringe hit from last year, Rerentless, where Borg plays the role of a nanny.

Check out a sample of Borg’s music at M



Bucan Bucan: Balkan brass From Bucanistan With Love

Fun loving, local brass band Bucan Bucan doesn’t sound like it’s from around here. In fact, the band is from a faraway land called Bucanistan, somewhere in the Balkans. This eight-piece plays traditional Balkan brass tunes with a twist: a mix of old and new played side by side.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve focused more on getting original tunes together,” says trumpet player and vocalist Kirsten Wright.  “And we’re making more of an effort to rearrange the traditional ones to suit our style a little more.”

The band went into the studio in August to record their new EP From Bucanistan With Love, which was released on bandcamp in April and is scheduled for a CD release in the coming weeks.

“We went into recording thinking that it’s going to be either a really good demo, or … we were going to do a CD or an EP,” says accordionist Chris Logan. “We just wanted to wait and see what it sounded like.”

“And we’re really happy with it,” adds trombone and euphonium player Aubrey Kelly.

From Bucanistan With Love is a six-song collection of foot-stomping party music that is both modern and old-world at the same time. With some original tunes written by Jonty Parker-Jervis (violin) and Julia Wakal (trumpet), alongside some early 19th century Balkan dance music and even their own national anthem, “Oh Bucanada,” this EP will definitely appeal to a wide audience.

“We strongly recommend this recording for those who enjoy dance parties, naps, pickling, eating of pickles, love, spying, stomping, sweating, shouting, moustaches, beards, goats, beer, Zubrovka, music, money, cats, orange juice, pie (but not likely cake) and loud brass,” says the band.

If that sounds like you, check them out at M