The Weeknd wins big at pre-telecast Junos, Arkells take sixth group of the year award

TORONTO — The Weeknd has another armful of Juno Awards for his shelf this year, but the Canadian superstar didn't show up in Edmonton to accept them.

Despite cleaning up in all four categories where he was nominated — including artist of the year — the Toronto pop singer was nowhere to be found at a Junos pre-telecast event on Saturday where most awards are handed out.

The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, also pocketed single of the year for "Sacrifice," pop album for "Dawn FM" and songwriter of the year for many hits he co-wrote for the album. He's up for another two Junos on the Monday broadcast: album of the year and the fan choice award voted on by viewers.

Other musicians vaulted obstacles to make the Junos, including members of Arkells who battled flight cancellations in Newfoundland. Three of them made flights in time to win their sixth group of the year honour.

"I think it's important to show support," explained a sleep-deprived Max Kerman.

"We have a really good life as musicians and I think showing up is part of being part of the community."

Kerman nodded to Arkells' keyboardist Anthony Carone and bassist Nick Dika who he said were still without a flight in Newfoundland and knocking back drinks at a local pub.

Celebrating in person had a special meaning for Tenille Townes, who found it took a moment for her second career Juno win to sink in. The Grande Prairie, Alta.-raised singer-songwriter's "Masquerades" was named best country album.

Her previous Juno came during the height of the pandemic when the awards show was virtual, which meant she watched the show from a laptop at home.

“It definitely feels real on a whole other level,” she said.

“Being able to land here and celebrate this with the community of Canadian music is something that really means a lot.”

Toronto band the Sadies marked a bittersweet victory as "Colder Streams" won the adult alternative album award. The record was their final with singer and guitarist Dallas Good, who died last year at 48.

"It's a strange feeling under the circumstances," Travis Good, his brother and band mate, explained as he held back tears.

"I was super excited — and the moment they called our name I thought I was going to start crying. I felt overwhelmingly sad."

Offering a more upbeat moment, 14-year-old performer Kairo McLean took a victory lap after making history as the youngest winner of the reggae recording category last year.

He shared his second Juno with Kirk Diamond and Finn for the song "Reggae Party."

"These guys are the ones who set the pace," McLean said in a tip of the hat to his elder collaborators.

Montreal singer Rêve won dance recording of the year for her hit single "CTRL + ALT + DEL," a recognition she called both inspiring and a signal to keep making music.

"I've cycled (through) everything, from the service industry to interesting writing jobs," she reflected.

"Everything was a means to an end because this was my passion."

The pre-telecast Junos saw more than 40 awards handed out at the Edmonton Convention Centre with "Run the Burbs" star Andrew Phung and CBC Music's Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe co-hosting the event.

Other winners included Digging Roots who scored the contemporary Indigenous artist or group award, while the Bearhead Sisters were named traditional Indigenous artist or group.

The headline Juno Awards show airs live on CBC and CBC Gem on Monday, hosted by Simu Liu with performances from Tate McRae, Tenille Townes and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Nickelback.

The show was bumped from its original Sunday airdate to make way for the Oscars.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2023.

David Friend, The Canadian Press