By Kerry DooleRock icon Neil Young's announcement that he would attend the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards in Toronto on Sunday (March 27) certainly helped add credibility and a sense of history to the occasion. What was not announced, however, was that he would also be present at the pre-broadcast Juno gala the evening before, when 32 awards were handed out to such artists as Arcade Fire, Shad, Caribou, Said the Whale and Broken Social Scene.
As for Young, the 65-year-old took the award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year with his recent Le Noise album. This was definitely one of the most talent-heavy categories in the Junos, with Young's rivals being Sarah Harmer, Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, Justin Nozuka, and Black Dub, the new band led by Daniel Lanois.
Of winning an award in the suspiciously named Adult Alternative category, Young said, "I'm an adult. There's no alternative. All the handles for all the different kinds of music? That is all someone else's thing. It is all music to me."
When asked about skipping so many earlier Juno Awards, Young told the media, "I tried to come a couple of years ago, but couldn't make it. There is really no reason I didn't come. I'm not really an awards kind of guy really, but it's great to get one. It's a great honour and I appreciate it. The older I get, the more appreciative I become."
While Lanois failed to capture the Adult Alternative award, he won the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year Juno for his work on Young's Le Noise and the Black Dub album, and he insisted Young join him on the podium during his acceptance speech.
Young described the making of their record together as "collaborating our asses off. It was a very Canadian experience. We had a Canadian engineer, a Canadian cook. We were in an old house in Silver Lake, California, but it was like Canada. I've even got a little Canadian flag on the cover of Le Noise. I was just so happy to make a great record with you, Daniel. You dubbed its ass off! I even named the record after him. I'd spent a couple of days working on coming up with a title, and then I thought Lanois, the noise monster. I was lucky and blessed to work with Dan. He's a real producer."
Other winners included Arcade Fire (Alternative Album of the Year), Caribou (Electronic Album of the Year), Shad (Rap Recording of the Year), Said the Whale (New Group of the Year), Broken Social Scene (Recording Package of the Year), Fond of Tigers (Instrumental Album of the Year), Old Man Luedecke (Roots & Traditional Album of the Year) and Karkwa (Francophone Album of the Year).
You can see a full list of the Juno winners so far here.
Neil Young is also the recipient of the 2011 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, an honour that will be presented during the Juno telecast this evening, and he is also nominated for Artist of the Year.