VIMA celebrates Island music excellence

Six of the nominees this year are stars from our very own backyard, the Comox Valley.

Look at the Stars in Our Own Backyard!

That’s the slogan of the Vancouver Island Music Awards, an event that celebrates excellence in the Island music scene. And six of the nominees this year are stars from our very own backyard, the Comox Valley.

Luke Blu Guthrie, Brodie Dawson and Keisja Cox are familiar names in the local music world. Joining them on the VIMA nominations list is Annie Becker, a recent addition to the Valley, and Chris Hamilton (aka Ill Tone) and Trent Freeman, who both grew up here but now live in Vancouver.

“The awards ceremony is the one night of the year when all facets of Island music get together to celebrate and network,” says James Kasper, founding producer, artistic director of VIMA and musician in his own right.

Adjudicated by eight jurors, this year’s event honours the innovation and hard work of 70 Vancouver Island individuals involved in the music industry.

Founded in 2002, the awards ceremony is modelled after the Juno Awards with a presentation followed with a performance by one of the nominees.

• The Valley’s newest shining star, Annie Becker, is among them.

Becker, who has been described as an “urban hippie, soul pop songstress,” released her debut album, All About the Beez Neez in 2011. Now she’s in the running for Island Vocalist, Island Songwriter, Island Artist and Island Music Video of the Year. Her video, Beez Neez, is colourful, energetic and humorous. Great characters, too!

• Trent Freeman’s newest CD, Rock Paper Scissors, is nominated for Island Instrumental CD of the Year.

Its blend of sophisticated jazz and innovative quirky elements won Freeman the 2012 Solo Artist of the Year Award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. In addition to the VIMA Instrumental category, he’s also competing against Becker and four others for Island Music Video of the Year.

Hot Spot for A Hobo features an innovative cast of characters, tons of humour and great music. Being a VIMA juror must be a tough gig!

• According to her website, Brodie Dawson’s style is a mix of “soulful, folky blues with a gospel funk, a twist of pop and a twang of old-school country.” She’s on the VIMA list for Island Live Act of the Year.

• Luke Blu Guthrie’s CD, Routes & Blu is up for Island Roots Album of the Year, Chris Hamilton/Ill Tone is nominated for the BC-wide Hip Hop Album of the Year and 14-year old Keisja Cox is competing for Island Youth Artist of the Year.

“As well as recognizing Vancouver Island artists, the awards ceremony also provides a great networking opportunity,” says Kasper. “It’s a valuable platform for empowering music careers.

“Getting musicians, music industry reps, the media and music fans all together under one roof and giving them the opportunity to establish new working relationships is a big part of what VIMA is all about.”

The ninth annual VIMAs take place at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in downtown Victoria on April 28 at 7 p.m.

“I heard Daniel Lapp perform his Christmas concert there last year,” says Kasper. “As soon as I saw the venue I knew we had to hold the VIMAs there. It’s beautiful, the sound is incredible, it’s the perfect size and centrally located.”

“It’s important for music fans to support local musicians,” he adds. “It’s all too easy to get bombarded by commercial media and the Top 40 musicians and think that’s the only music available. It’s amazing what is here in our own backyard.”

Earlybird tickets are available until April 15. After that the price goes up.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or phone 1-778-265-VIMA.

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