A veritable hot list of 2018 Juno nominees share their best restaurants, bars, and top attractions in Vancouver

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      To the casual observer, the Junos are all about the big show—the nationally televised extravaganza beamed into millions of homes across the Great White North where all the big hardware is handed out. Giving you something in common with music fans across the country, odds are you’re planning to be either in the stands or glued to the couch on March 25 when hometown hero Michael Bublé hosts the 2018 Juno Awards at Rogers Arena. But to limit your Junos experience to that night isn’t exactly making the most of things. That’s because the party starts long before the final fireworks.

      The reality is that Junos events have been taking place, and will continue to do so, right up to the big Rogers blowout. Consider, for example, March 10’s Under-19 Songwriters’ Circle. With Mother Mother singer Ryan Guldemond hosting and a supporting cast that included composer Jordan Nobles, Funk Hunter Nick Middleton, and Boom Booms frontman Aaron Ross, the event had creatives sharing their music, stories, and artistic secrets with young songwriting hopefuls at the Vancouver Playhouse.

      The days ahead will bring us Let’s Hear It! Live, during which a cavalcade of local talent (Funk Hunters, Little Destroyer, Peach Pit, Horsepowar, Mob Bounce, DJ Kookum, and more) will take to an outdoor stage at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 23 and 24. (For the full schedule, go to the Let's Hear It website.)

      There’s also JunoFest, where a single wristband gets you 95 bands at top venues across the city (the Rickshaw, the Biltmore, the Roxy, the Imperial, Fox Cabaret) for $30 plus service charges. Talent ranges from up-and-comers like Jo Passed to respected veterans like Louise Burns, Jim Cuddy, Sex With Strangers, and too many more to list here.

      If sports are your thing, there’s the Juno Cup at Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby on March 23. Those eager to learn tricks of the songwriting trade can sign on for a Juno Songwriters’ Circle with Bob Rock and Jann Arden March 25 at the Orpheum.

      And that’s just a taste. (For a full schedule, go to The JUNO Awards website.)

      Somewhere during all this and more you’re going to want to find time to make the most of Vancouver, especially if you happen to be from out of town. With that in mind, we canvassed nominees from across the country, grilling them on what they love to do and where they love to go whenever they are in Lotusland. If one common thread runs through their answers, it’s that the fun during the Junos doesn’t start and stop with the official awards.

      Ryan Guldemond, singer-guitarist for Mother Mother

      (coproducer of “The Drugs”, which garnered Brian Howes and Jason Van Poed­erooyen a nomination for Jack Richardson Producer of the Year)

      “My favourite place to go in Vancouver is New Brighton Park. To me, it’s a plaintive and contemplative kinda park, and there’s a number of things I like to do there, including running, talking to the crows, and recording sound bites, like the ambient hum of the grain silos or various and clangorous noises from the industrial areas surrounding. These often find their way into the music I write. Recently, I’ve taken to scanning the beach for a rock who says ‘Pick me,’ then I hold it for some time with my eyes closed, transferring some of the nonsense I have in my head into the rock, and when the moment strikes, I hurl it into the ocean. I don’t know if it works, but it feels good. A few years ago, when I was trying to turn my life around, as we all want to do, I was there quite early in the morning, doing stair sprints on a three-tier set which leads to a commercial-vehicle lane above the park. As the sun was rising, a figure rose with it, and down these steps an ancient woman came towards me, and I went towards her, meeting in the middle. She looked deep into my eyes, then nodded and gave me the thumbs-up. It was the most profound affirmation I’ve ever received. I think New Brighton Park is my church.”

      Luke Doucet, singer-guitarist for Whitehorse

      (adult alternative nominee for Panther in the Dollhouse)

      “Having lived in Vancouver for the grungy ’90s, I like to revisit old haunts, places where I first heard Dinosaur Jr., the Posies, Copyright (C), the New Pornographers, 54-40, Neko Case, and the Grapes of Wrath. The Templeton diner [1087 Granville Street] makes a mean spinach salad. Yes, it is sandwiched between the skeezy porno shops and the douchey Granville Street bars, but Vancouver the Good (with a sense of history and a semblance of permanence) still fights for survival—even on Granville Street, where this survival is implausible at best. Beneath the glass covers on the diner tables lies a collection of retro comic-book postcards. We poached one some years back and used a quote for an album title. Wonder Woman’s suitor attempts ‘The fate of the world depends on this kiss’ as a ‘Hail Mary’. The Templeton diner employs a similar audacity in its determination to defy the fate of its neighbours.”

      Chris Slorach, bassist for METZ

      (metal/hard music nominee for Strange Peace)

      “I have two go-tos when I’m in Vancouver. 1) The Acorn Restaurant [3995 Main Street]. My friend Shira [Blustein] opened this amazing vegetarian restaurant that serves amazing food and drinks. I like to make this a meeting point to have a drink and a nice meal. 2) I call my friend Darcy Hancock [of the band Ladyhawk] and he puts his BBQ in his truck and we make the front of the venue our own barbecue pit. If you can’t get Darcy, I suggest you visit the Acorn.”

      Rose Cousins, singer-songwriter

      (songwriter of the year nominee for Natural Conclusion)

      “Vancouver is beyond gorgeous. I like to bike around Stanley Park and then stuff my face with Tacofino tacos [2327 East Hastings Street] or incredibly fresh seafood at Blue Water Cafe [1095 Hamilton Street]. I also love snooping around the galleries on Granville Island. It’s a magical city.”

      Terra Lightfoot, singer-songwriter

      (adult alternative nominee for New Mistakes)

      “Every time I visit Vancouver, I do two things: eat sushi and walk around Stanley Park. The park is so gorgeous and full of giant trees and vegetation that is so often green and thriving while the rest of the country is covered in snow. I especially love walking along the shores of the beach there. Another place I’ve visited is a pinball bar somewhere downtown; I forget what it’s called. I played pinball with a woman from a radio station after an interview. Turns out everyone in Vancouver is really nice and inviting—and also that I apparently like to go to dingy bars with pinball machines after I walk in lush forested areas.”

      Leif Vollebekk, singer-songwriter

      (adult alternative nominee for Twin Solitude)

      “I know I’m not alone here, but I can’t wait to wander through Stanley Park again. There are few places like it in the world. You can really let your mind unspool.”

      Kid Koala, DJ and producer

      (electronic album nominee for Music to Draw To: Satellite)

      “Vancouver always has a place in my heart. It’s where I grew up, took piano lessons, bought my first records with my Province paper-route money! LOL. Many of those record shops probably don’t exist anymore, but I would definitely make some time to visit Granville Island. I have the fondest memories of taking the bus there after school for drawing/animation classes at Arts Umbrella. I also remember taking field trips there to see theatre shows. I brought my family there for lunch at the market on our last Vancouver trip, and as we stepped outside with our tray of food we were ambushed by a squadron of very hungry seagulls. They landed on the tray and flipped it over and within seconds there were taters all over the floor being gobbled up by this very strategic flock of seagulls. It was very funny and traumatizing and I’ve promised them a do-over. But really, one of my favourite things in Vancouver are the audiences. We always have such a wonderful time performing there! Unfortunately, I can’t make it to the Junos this year due to touring engagements, but we will see you in May when we are there for the Vinyl Vaudeville: Floor Kids show!”

      Bria Skonberg, singer and trumpeter

      (vocal jazz album nominee for With a Twist)

      “As a singer and trumpeter, I have to keep my lungs in good shape. When I’m in Vancouver I want to drink up as much of that crystal clear Pacific air as possible! My favourite activity is biking around the seawall with friends—it’s invigorating, especially when you sing in the tunnels.”

      Felix Cartal, DJ and producer

      (Jack Richardson Producer of the Year nominee for “Get What You Give” and “Drifting Away”, and dance recording nominee for “Get What You Give”)

      “I love when people come and visit, because I can take them out for sushi. I love to show off our sockeye salmon, and I like to visit Honjin [138 Davie Street] in Yaletown. I feel like sockeye-salmon sashimi is very hard to get at that quality anywhere else in the world.”

      Kylie Miller, guitarist for the Beaches

      (breakthrough group nominee)

      “For me, when I’m in Vancouver, or any city, to be honest, my favourite thing to do is eat. Everyone knows that Vancouver has some of the best seafood in Canada, so getting good sushi is always a must for me when I visit. I’m currently planning on taking the girls out for a pre-Juno sushi feast and I couldn’t be more excited.”

      Nancy Mike, singer with the Jerry Cans

      (nominee for both breakthrough group and contemporary roots album for Inuusiq)

      “I love the brunch spot the Café Medina [780 Richards Street]. It is a very kid-friendly place, great waffles and coffee. On a side note, coming from a place where there are no trees, I discovered a phobia of trees (a.k.a. hylophobia) when I came to Vancouver, and I am learning to observe and appreciate all the different types of trees and love going for walks, or a hike to enjoy the scenery.”

      Jhyve, R&B singer-songwriter and producer

      (R&B/soul recording nominee for “Human”)

      “Not only is this the first Junos I’m attending, but I’m also performing my first show in Vancouver at the legendary Commodore Ballroom, where countless music icons had their start—James Brown, Tina Turner, David Bowie… I’m honoured to play there and to do so with my friend, one of the most talented and hard-working Canadian artists I know, Jessie Reyez. It’s a dream come true. Before I hit the stage, though, my preshow routine usually includes kicking back with a couple of whiskies. If I have time, I’ll check out the Irish Heather [210 Carrall Street]. I hear they pour a nice dram.”