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CIMA Awards: Canadian Indies Honor Attic Records Founder Al Mair, CMW's Neill Dixon, The Sheepdogs

Neil Dixon and Grant Lawrence
David Leyes

Canadian Music Week president Neill Dixon receives the Brian Chater Leadership Award from CIMA Awards host Grant Lawrence.

The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), the non-for-profit trade association founded as Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) in 1975, held its 2nd annual CIMA Celebration & Awards at an intimate dinner for 200 members of the independent music industry at Toronto's Berkeley Church Monday evening.

The Builder Award was given to Attic Records founder Al Mair; the Brian Chater Leadership Award to Canadian Music Week founder and president Neill Dixon; the Unsung Hero Award to long-time publicist, music journalist and concert promoter Richard Flohil (Richard Flohil & Associates); and the Entrepreneur Award to Dine Alone Records and Bedlam Music Management honcho Joel Carriere, the youngest of the bunch.

CIMA also announced a new award for marketing, for which the winner was announced onstage: Coalition Music team Devi Ekanand, Vanessa Cito and Serena Ragogna won for their creative work on USS's Advanced Basics. The other two nominees were the marketing minds behind Dine Alone Records act City and Colour for the album If I Should Go Before You and Six Shooter Records for Whitehorse's Leave No Bridge Unburned.

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The Sheepdogs also received a Road Gold award, a program CIMA launched last year to recognize touring acts with sales of 25,000 tickets within a 12-month period. The band, which has played 137 shows since September, booked by Paquin Agency, just played 10 shows in 10 states in 10 days, and drove back from Nashville to attend the awards.

BUILDER AWARD: Al Mair (Attic Records): "A projection. I think the recorded music industry is 36 to 48 months away from becoming a healthy industry again, once we get You Tube and the others under control. There are sufficient monies available that the industry to grow and a recent stat came out of Europe from England said that independents worldwide were worth about 35 percent. That hopefully will go up substantially."

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UNSUNG HERO AWARD: Richard Flohil (Richard Flohil & Associates), who was instrumental in the early days of k.d. lang, Loreena McKennitt and Serena Ryder, is soon turning 82 and still goes out to clubs several times a week. He's also working on a book of his engaging music stories. The award, which recognizes an unwavering commitment and outstanding support of our industry by someone who does not usually get the recognition they deserve, took a moment to do more of what he does: promote artists.

"Music is a continuum. It all comes from what has been before. All those people that I met at folk festivals and blues clubs in Chicago and bars on Yonge Street make music that's now called roots music -- music that comes from somewhere else. And if I've accomplished anything, it's been sharing my enthusiasm about artists I've found and helped promote often in the early stages of their career."

BRIAN CHATER LEADERSHIP AWARD: Neill Dixon (Canadian Music Week). Chater, who died in 2013, was president of CIRPA from 1987 to 2006.

"Brian Chater was a mentor and a hero of mine. So the irony of Brian Chater's life, if he were an artist he may have lost points for being born in England, but there are no better Canadians than the ones who choose to be here and Brian chose to be here and he chose to make a difference. I feel like I'm standing on the shoulders of a giant, not just for receiving this award in his name, but for carrying on his legacy at every CMW program or panel on things that he championed."

MARKETING AWARD TO COALITION MUSIC – for USS's Advanced Basics: Devi Ekanand, Vanessa Cito and Serena Ragogna

Devi  Ekanand: "I'd like to thank CIMA for introducing this marketing award to this year's gala. It's an honor to not only be a nominee along with Six Shooter and Dine Alone, but also to be the first winner of an award such as this. Thank you for showing the music industry the importance of marketing on such an indie level. Indie labels don't have the luxury of having huge budgets to finance our marketing efforts so what we lack in funds we make up for in creativity."

ENTREPRENEUR AWARD: Joel Carriere (Dine Alone Records & Bedlam Music Management), which goes to "the risk takers, the trendsetters, and those who drive successful business with an ethical approach and a true indie spirit," said Universal Music Canada president and Arts & Crafts co-founder Jeffrey Remedios, who received the award last year and introduced Carriere.

Noting he was just happy with enough money to get mac and cheese from 7-Eleven at the start of his career, he said: "What did happen along the way was I was able to make a little bit of money and help further what we were hoping to do and that was get us to the CIMA Awards in 2016… Entrepreneurs: we're obviously a unique bunch but the thing about us is we're never really satisfied or never really happy with what we're doing in the moment because we're always on to the next few projects."


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