The underdogs had their day at the Juno Awards. As did The Sheepdogs.
The shaggy Saskatoon rockers snapped up two trophies at Saturday's non-televised gala, winning New Group of the Year and Rock Album honours for their third record Learn & Burn.
The disc beat Arkells' Michigan Left, Matthew Good's Lights of Endangered Species, Sam Roberts Band's Collider and Sloan's Double Cross in the album race, while the band defeated Braids, Hey Rosetta!, Mother Mother and Rural Alberta Advantage in the group stakes.
The awards — the band's first Junos — cap a year-long Cinderella story for the hard-working quartet, who shot to prominence after winning a Rolling Stone contest and having their picture grace the music mag's cover in 2011. They could extend their winning streak to three on Sunday, when their song I Don't Know will vie for Single of the Year during the televised broadcast hosted by William Shatner. Ironically, the band's well-established work ethic — they're on tour in Australia supporting John Fogerty — kept them from enjoying their success in person.
Singer-songwriter Feist also won another pair of Junos on Saturday, bringing her career total to 10. Her fourth album Metals took the Adult Alternative Album prize, while the documentary Look at What the Light Did Now won the Music DVD trophy.
"I'm a little shocked," said Feist, accepting her album prize. "I guess I just want to say that I'm really proud that I get to keep making records."
She's also up for Artist and Songwriter of the Year — two of the seven remaining awards to be handed out at Scotiabank Place.
Feist was one of only a few big names to attend the ceremonies — a situation reflected in the evening's events, which saw Goliaths defeated by Davids and favourites fall to dark horses in several of the 36 categories. Among the upsets:
• Hamilton rockers The Arkells took Group of the Year honours, beating Nickelback, Sam Roberts Band, Hedley and Down With Webster. Not bad for five guys who just won Best New Group two years ago. "It's like March madness and we're a 15th seed that just beat a second seed ... we're gonna go all the way," said frontman Max Kerman, adding "we're excited for all the vitriol from Hedley fans on Twitter." Don't cry for Nickelback, either; they're still up for Album and Single of the Year, along with the Fan Choice Award.
• Vancouver-based pop-punks Hedley — fronted by the flamboyant Jacob Hoggard — won Pop Album of the Year with Storms, knocking out discs by Avril Lavigne, Down With Webster, Lights and Marianas Trench. "It's been a long time coming," admitted Hoggard after bounding onto the stage. Indeed, it was only their second Juno after 18 nominations, and probably sweeter than the Video of the Year trophy they got last year. Consider their Juno curse broken.
• Winnipeg's KEN mode snatched the inaugural Metal / Hard Music Album trophy from the clutches of sentimental favourites Anvil. The Prairie metalheads — whose first name stands for Kill Everyone Now — were rewarded for their critically acclaimed fourth album Venerable, which defeated the long-suffering Toronto vets' unfortunately titled Juggernaut of Justice. Despite being giant killers, the trio remained humble. "We respect them," drummer Shane Matthewson said. "They've been a band longer than we've been alive. We're sorry to spoil the party."
• Vancouver indie-folk singer-songwriter Dan Mangan — up for his first Junos — went home with the Alternative Album prize thanks to his disc Oh Fortune, which outperformed David Comes to Life, the universally acclaimed rock opera from Toronto punks F---ed Up. "I'm a big fan of all the bands in this category, so it's really mindblowing," Mangan said. "It's kind of surreal." The rising star is also up for New Artist and Songwriter of the Year this weekend.
Other notable winners on Saturday:
• Drake's outstanding sophomore album Take Care won the Rap Recording prize over discs by Classified, D-Sisive, Kardinal Offishall and Swollen Members. He's also up for three more prizes on Sunday, though he's not expected to attend after being stiffed at the awards last year. Fellow nominees Justin Bieber and Michael Buble are also expected to be no-shows.
• Recent Grammy double-winner Melanie Fiona added another piece of hardware to her trophy case, taking the R&B / Soul Recording prize for Gone and Never Coming Back.
• Homegrown folk legend Bruce Cockburn won his 11th Juno for Small Source of Comfort, which garnered the Solo Roots and Traditional Album prize.
• Alberta singer Terri Clark won her third Juno for Country Album of the Year, thanks to her eighth record Roots and Wings.
• Montreal pop-punks Simple Plan were honoured with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for their charitable work. The band's foundation funds a number of youth-oriented causes. Fittingly, they are the youngest recipients of the accolade.
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