Prince Albert artists in the running for 2020 Sask. Country Music Awards

Chester Fest, the couch and music festival that took place for the first time in 2019, is nominated for the SCMA's Music Festival of the Year. (Herald file photo)

A batch of nominations for this year’s Saskatchewan Country Music Awards belong to artists right here in Prince Albert.

The 31st annual award nominees were announced this past weekend by the Saskatchewan Country Music Association (SCMA). The list, which includes 29 categories, reflects artists, groups and venues that are recognized by their peers and boards of directors.

“Whether they are an emerging artist, a pro artist, venue, producer, media company, radio station, an on air personality, a festival, musician, songwriter, director or an industry promoter, they are vital to country music in this province and they deserve our support,” said SCMA President Wes LaBrash in a news release.

From female artist of the year, to group of the year, to emerging artist of the year, Prince Albert and area’s country music scene is up against Saskatchewan’s most well-known country names.

These include Hunter Brothers of Shaunavon, Chris Henderson of Estevan and J.J. Voss, who grew up on a rural farm in southern Saskatchewan.

The 2020 SCMA Awards weekend takes place Apr. 17, 18 and 19 in Regina, with the final awards being presented on the televised show the evening of Apr. 18.

Chester Fest – Nominated for Music Festival of the Year

The inaugural Chester Fest may only have taken place in July of 2019, but it’s already in the running to be named the province’s top music festival of the year.

“To get that kind of recognition, even to be nominated for a festival that’s only happened once, it’s pretty great,” said Joel Rohs, one of Chester Fest’s founding members.

Rohs said organizers received lots of local support from people who “jumped on board with our crazy idea.”

2019’s weekend-long event consisted of 25 acts from across the prairies, with festival-goers sinking into 100 vintage couches.

They’re already “neck deep” into planning the second annual Chester Fest, taking place Jul. 3 and 4.

Rohs said having the festival on the nomination list will help the event gain even more traction.

“Just the nomination helps get our word out there and not only to other artists that were nominated that wanted to apply to to play at our festival, but others fans and people that see our name say ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was a festival in P.A.’”

Rohs said they’ll start announcing headliners on Feb. 28.

Chester Fest’s Battle of the Bands featuring Bombargo is also taking place on Friday. Four local artists—LJ Tyson, Ray of Sunshine, The Upside and Rhe Hightailers—will be competing at the Union Centre for a slot in the festival.

LJ Tyson – Nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year

Prince Albert’s LJ Tyson is no stranger to the SCMA awards.

The 23-year-old singer-songwriter has previously been nominated twice for video of the year and took home the SIGA Indigenous Artist Development Bursary in 2018. This time, though, he’s in the running for Emerging Artist of the Year.

“Being nominated, you get to go the awards show and meet so many new, awesome artists and very established artists,” he said.

“Just getting to work with those people is such a positive experience and really helps you book more gigs and get the opportunity to work with more people.”

Tyson said although he performs a variety of genres, his roots are in country music.

He started performing at school talent shows before joining a punk band in high school. Eventually, he resorted back to singing and writing country music.

“It’s an honour to be nominated along such hardworking people,” he said.

E.A. Rawlinson Centre – Nominated for Music Venue of the Year

For E.A. Rawlinson Centre General Manager Roxanne Dicke, being nominated for Music Venue of the Year is a reminder that staff are “meeting those entertainment needs” of the city.

“It reminds our community that we’re working hard to bring incredible acts to our own city, and I think it also gives us credibility in the broader industry because we work really hard to treat our artists and our patrons really well and to offer that kind of diversity,” said Dicke.

The Rawlinson has brought several big country music names to Prince Albert, including Aaron Pritchett, Gord Bamford, Brett Kissel, The Washboard Union and George Canyon.

Other country music artists that have hit the Rawlinson stage are also on the list of SCMA nominees, including J.J. Voss, who’s performing an onstage cabaret on Mar. 26 as part of a tour to release his new album.

Dicke encouraged the public to subscribe to their newsletter and keep an eye on event announcements because they often have acts added after the season’s original announcement.

Other local nominations

Stephanie Rose — Nominated for Female Artist of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year

The Trudel Family — Nominated for Group of the Year and Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year

Munro & Patrick — Nominated for Group of the Year

Larry Krause — Nominated for Roots Artist of the Year

Jay and Jo — Nominated for Roots Artist of the Year

Saskatchewan Country CKBI — Nominated for Radio Station – Major Market

FM Country CJVR — Nominated for Radio Station – Secondary Market

Ken Landers — Nominated for On-Air Personality – Secondary Market