Dirty Words & Thoughts About Music: Juno Awards 2008 - III

By Brian Wright-McLeod
News From Indian Country 9-08

Derek Miller: The Dirty Looks [Arbor]. The 2008 recipient of the coveted Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) in the Aboriginal music category, Derek Miller, claims his second national industry trophy since 2002 for Music Is The Medicine. His latest album, The Dirty Looks, features the signature power chord trio inspired by the late Link Wray.

The album, brimming with blistering tracks of rock/blues-driven guitar songs, have blazed a trail for Miller’s career. “It’s just mind-blowing that I’ve been blessed with this recognition,” Miller exclaimed. More recently, Miller has been working on releasing an album with Double Trouble in 2009 featuring special guest appearance by Willie Nelson.

With more confidence, Miller wants to make a difference in his community of Six Nations, Ontario, “I was playing golf with Willie Nelson,” Miller says, “and he was telling me about a machine that takes water out of the air. It’s something we can use in Six Nations, the water situation there is really bad.”

He was recently named the international spokesman for the company Wataire that manufactures the device. Miller’s activism also focuses on the youth. “We need them, they’re our future.” He said. “Who else will carry on with the land claims, the environment – these are critical issues facing my nation right now.”

Previous awards include a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award in1999 for his EP Sketches and co-produced Keith Secola’s 2000 award-winning album Fingermonkey.

On the Net:


The following artists were nominated for this year’s Juno Award in the Aboriginal music category:

sandy_scofield.jpg Sandy Scofield: Nikawiy Askiy [Arbor 2007]. Vancouver-based Sandy Scofield (Metis/Cree/Saulteaux) derives her influences from four generations of fiddle players and singers. Performing professionally since 1986, her style combines traditional influences with soft pop, cool rhythm and blues and straight-ahead rock. Her fourth Nikawiy Askiy (Cree for Mother Earth) includes several notable Aboriginal guest artists including Art Napoleon (Cree), Holly McNarland (Metis) and Kinnie Starr.

With such an eclectic lineup, Scofield’s album is painted to define each song that’s matched with the appropriate artist. For example, internationally acclaimed singer Kinnie Starr (Mohawk) appears on the tracks “Faith” and “Famous” with rapper OS 12, who exude a true trip-hop mash up; the traditional numbers profile Scofield’s voice with handdrum; yet, the piece “Sophie’s Song” sounds more like a page torn from the repertoire of Sharon Burch with melodic, instrumental and vocable familiarity. Scofield maintains a clear direction, “I’m working to become a composer and learning the inner workings of musical structure and composition.” Her previous three albums have won four Canadian Aboriginal Awards.

On the Net: www.myspace.com/sandyscofield


donny_parenteau.jpg Donny Parenteau: What it Takes [Land Wash]. What It Takes is the third release by this multi-talented artist with producer Steve Fox. The solid mix of original ballads and upbeat numbers makes for an album full of good country music. Parenteau also made a clean sweep at this year’s Saskatchewan Country Music Awards with wins in five categories.

Born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, within Cree territory, Parenteau grew up around music and started playing the fiddle in 1981. He later expanded to mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, the unique double neck mando-caster/electric guitar, and added his crisp vocals to the mix. He combines the evident influences of Bob Wills’ Country Swing style with a New Country accent – a musical dexterity that led him to realize his life-long dream of performing at the Grand Ol’ Opry.

Throughout his career, Parenteau has shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, George Jones, Charlie Pride, Loretta Lynn, Shania Twain and numerous others.

On the Net: www.donnyparenteau.net

fara_palmer.jpg Fara Palmer: Phoenix [Independent]. Following long after her previous Juno nominations in 1998 and 2000, Fara Palmer’s musical career is ready to breathe anew. Her latest album, Phoenix, is a pop/folk-rock/roots fusion, both edgy and eclectic. The Cree/Saulteaux singer-songwriter also works as a vocal and studio coach. “I aim to entertain, uplift, inspire positive change, and spread the message of self-empowerment and cultural awareness,” she said of her career.

Her albums This Is My World and Pretty Brown each won Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in categories of Album of the Year in 1998 and Female Artist of the Year in 2000.

On the Net:

little_hawk.jpg Little Hawk (aka Troy Westwood): Home and Native Land [Independent]. The second non-Native to be nominated in the category’s 14-year history, Troy Westwood (AKA: Little Hawk) renders historic injustices as folk-rock songs from the heart. From his time with the Winnipeg-based group Eagle and Hawk, Westwood was inspired to create what he calls “Indigenous Protest Folk Rock.” Combining lyrics that tend to preach a message and music that fails to grip attention, Home And Native Land manages to create more questions than it answers.

Produced by Chris Burke-Gaffney, the album features guest artists Red Shadow Singers and Ray “Co-Co” Stevenson. Outside of his musical world, Westwood is the kicker for the Canadian National Football League’s (CFL) Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

On the Net: www.myspace.com/littlehawkmusic