Skip to content

Talent Overflowing

Nelson’s renowned music scene helps make the collective vibe of the community tick and at this month’s B.C. Interior Music Awards, the talent will be rewarded
Nelson's Wassabi Collective is one of several local acts in the hunt for this year's B.C. Interior Music Awards.

Even if none of the Nelson artists nominated for this year’s B.C. Interior Music Awards take home trophies on April 23, the city’s music scene still has a victory to celebrate.

Local artists punched well above their weight class, netting nearly a quarter of this year’s nominations, which also include musicians from Kamloops, Kelowna and other larger communities.

“We all know how creative Nelson is,” says awards co-producer Shelly Vida.

“I’m not sure it’s the reach — whether we manage to reach into Nelson more than other communities, or whether it’s the talent. But I really do believe that Nelson has a wealth of talent and creative people, so we absolutely expected to get some artists coming out of the area.”

The annual ceremony, an enlargement of the now-defunct Okanagan Music Awards, netted just under 500 submissions from the region’s independent artists, which were pared down by a jury of music industry insiders. Vida says submitting artists must have studio quality recordings, web presences and an obvious commitment to their musical careers.

In return, Vida says winning a BCIMA can be a positive bump for an artist — not least because several affiliated festivals, including the Kaslo Jazz Fest and Festival Kelowna have promised to look at hiring some of the winners for their summer lineups.

“It just gives you something more,” she adds. “That recognition can just show people you’re at a different level. That you’re taking your career seriously, you’re making product, you’re out there touring, you know what you’re doing in the music business.”


Nelson’s wealth of musical nominees is no surprise to Brent (Gisto) Hongisto of Wassabi Collective, which picked up seven nominations, including album of the year for Get It and group of the year.

“For us, it made it possible to develop our own unique style and sound that if we were in any other place, we might not have been able to cultivate,” he says of the town.

While Wassabi wasn’t formed in the city, its final — and, Gisto would argue, best — lineup was finalized here. Originally based in Victoria, the band relocated to Nelson at his suggestion when its original drummer dropped out, adding local players Andrew McCormick and Jimmy Lewis on its arrival.

In 2008 the band released its first studio album, Stories Not Forgotten, which also netted Wassabi its first BCIMA.

Since then, the Collective has been refining its sound, and Get It finds the group taking a new approach to song building. Rather than try to recapture Wassabi’s jam-style live approach, Gisto says the group is working to build songs that stand on their own as individual pieces.

“We have the live sound that’s in the moment and gives people the impression anything can happen. It’s a very selfless sound sometimes,” he says.

“It was kind of a refinement, taking something that’s really raw and you never know what’s going to happen and fitting it into a mold, and creating songs that become more iconic.”


Singer-songwriter Jude Davison won his last music prize in the early 1980s, when he picked up back-to-back song of the year awards at his Ontario college.

Two decades later, he’s up for concept album of the year for Circo de Teatro, as well as best video and album artwork.

“It’s awesome, man,” says Davison. “I’d hate to say I feel like I deserve it, but it’s awesome.”

Though he’s put out 19 albums in his career, Davison thinks it makes sense that Circo — his Mexican circus concept album — would be the one to put him back in the awards-scene spotlight. Inspired partially by the book Water for Elephants, and featuring a wild mix of Mexican mariachi, rock and roots music, among others, Circo clearly inspires a lot of pride in its creator.

“I just feel like it’s a really strong album,” he says.

“And I say that not from a place of ego, it just came together really well. Everything about it seemed to be a really strong fit — the recording and the playing, it was just really easy. Everything just fell into place with that album. And it’s had such a good reaction.”

Davison isn’t sure how winning a BCIMA would affect his career path. But should his name get called during the awards ceremony, which he’s planning to attend with his wife and daughter, he certainly wouldn’t complain.


Miss Quincy — known off the stage as Jody Peck — classifies her first studio release, Your Mama Don’t Like Me, as “grassroots gypsy blues.” The genre-bending style has earned her nominations in two categories: best folk/traditional recording and country/bluegrass album of the year.

Peck came to Nelson to attend Selkirk College’s contemporary music program several years ago, “and I just didn’t really leave.” Your Mama is her first studio release, and features other Nelson musicians who agreed to make the trek north to a small cabin for an immersive two-week recording session.

“It’s mostly done live off the floor, it’s got a very live sense,” she says. “I wanted it to sound like real people in a room making music together. There’s not a lot of crazy production aspects.”

Since it was released, she’s been in and out of Nelson constantly (she estimates seven of the last 12 months were spent on the road). Just back from Europe, she’s planning a trip east in June, followed by a Western Canadian tour.

“We’ve played everything from a mobile blues cart to a punk bar in Germany,” she says. “House concerts, barn parties, barn dances, balcony parties. We played so many different places it’s hard to pick the craziest one.”

An independent artist releasing music on her own, Peck says winning a BCIMA would be a boost.

“As an independent artists it really shows merit and the quality of your music,” she says. “It’s important to have people recognize the music.”

The BCIMAs take place at the Kelowna Community Theatre April 23 at 7 p.m. For a full list of nominees and a video roundup of nominated artists, visit


Nelson's Nominees

Wassabi Collective: Album of the year, engineer of the year (Gisto), producer of the year, CD/DVD art design, group of the year, R&B/soul recording, urban/dance recording

Jude Davison: Music video of the year, engineer of the year, CD/DVD art design, concept album of the year

Miss Quincy: Folk/traditional album of the year, blues record of the year

Adam Shaikh: Roots/world recording of the year

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

Read more