Rewind: IDOW Owl Awards

For years, a white owl has appeared on the posters, website and other marketing materials for In the Dead of Winter. Like owls, the Mixtape crew stayed up late and closely watched the festival and made notes, observations and created the Owl Awards. The awards are purely theoretical , but if we had physical awards they most likely would be made of plastic and could double as those fake owls you put up to scare away squirrels. The tenth edition of IDOW featured a range of sounds, from the energetic pop rock of Highs to the uke of Emily Shute. It snowed, it poured, we laughed and we cried. Without further adieu, the IDOW owl awards.

Best performance – Owen Pallett

It was incredible watching Owen Pallett create complex layers of music through looping sounds from his violin, voice and synth. It was incredible listening to the variety of sounds Pallett, along with Robbie Gordon and Matt Smith created. It was fascinating to be so close to a Canadian indie music icon. It was the best performance of IDOW and you can read a full review of the show. – Jonathan Briggins

Most likely to start a riot in the over-forty crowd – Amelia Curran
An indie music festival the place where you expect to find mostly hipsters. But one of IDOW’s strengths, and that of folk music, is that it connects with so many. That comes into sharpest focus at the Amelia Curran show. Curran is one of IDOW’s organizers, but the beyond-sold-out crowd clearly demonstrated why she headlines. With an easy on-stage presence and light banter with the audience, Curran is, was, and always will be a mainstay of the east coast folk scene. – Evelyn Hornbeck

Amelia Curran at the Company House (Photo: Evelyn Hornbeck)
Amelia Curran at the Company House (Photo: Evelyn Hornbeck)


Best band to put out a forest fire – Corey Isenor and his band
Zachary Lucky, who performed before Corey Isenor, said Isenor had a Smokey the Bear hat on. While we’re unsure if Isenor actually believes that you can prevent fires, if there were a fire, his band would have been best suited to put out a fire. There were seven members in the alt-folk country band with instruments ranging from a stand up bass to a resonator guitar. – JB

Corey Isenor
Corey Isenor performs at a song circle on Friday at Alteregos. (Photo: Jonathan Briggins)



Best Reason to Move to the South Shore of Nova Scotia – Jennah Barry
No matter how often Jennah Barry drives up to Halifax for a show, this city can’t get enough of her, so we may have to pick up and go to her. A perfectly satisfying blend of light and heavy, of funny and poignant, Barry is an old soul who puts on a perfect show, naturally. A highlight of the night was her cover of Dolly Parton’s “Touch Your Woman.” She dedicated it “to consent.” “One time,” she told the crowd, “Al Tuck read my setlist and something about how he said it made me think, ‘I have dumb feelings.’” We like your feelings, Barry. – EH

Best beard – Spencer Burton
Spencer Burton, the artist formerly known as Grey Kingdom, was neck-and-neck (but not neck beard) with Nick Ferrio for the prestigious “Best Beard” award in August when we handed out the Sappy Awards. A true “beardspiration”, Burton’s beard is large in size, well trimmed and very practical in the winter. – JB

Spencer Burton, hands down, the best beard. (Photo: Jonathan Briggins)
Spencer Burton, hands down, the best beard. (Photo: Jonathan Briggins)

Most hated because of his name – Kalle Mattson
Kalle Mattson always seems to have hilarious stories when he swings through Halifax, often involving something rude being said to him. While at the airport, a barista at Starbucks asked what his name was to write on the coffee cup. “Kalle”, he said. She responded “I hate Kalle.” Typically he plays with a band, but made this trip solo. It was a more personal way of listening to songs that are very personal. His most recent album, Someday the Moon Will Be Gold, sees Mattson open up about the loss of his mother at age 16. Standing alone with an acoustic guitar and his voice, Mattson delivered a captivating performance. – JB

Best New Sure Thing – Emily Shute
IDOW holds space for newer artists, and the very deserving Emily Shute claimed a spot. This ray of sunshine blew the room away, from her first, uptempo, clawhammer banjo tune (a very Kimya-Dawson-esque number). Backed up by actress Mary Fay Coady on violin and glockenspiel, Shute played through her upcoming release, a ukulele album about her divorce. The pair radiated the kind of pure joy you only get from a fresh act. Extra points for a mean whistle the boys could only dream of. – EH

Best glorification of smoking – Andy Shauf
“I just smoke so I can write about smoking,” Andy Shauf told a friendly heckler, as he introduced another song about smoking. Along with smoking, Shauf’s beautiful, moody songs are filled with dark shit. Heartbreak is just the start of it. He’ll captivate you without a band, just his unique voice and electric guitar. And, perfect for IDOW, he sings about the cold as only a prairie-dweller can. Settle in with a good smoke for a cry with Shauf. – EH

Most likely to demolish a building – Willie Stratton & the Boarding Party
A round of fast-paced traditional cowboy surf songs had the Bus Stop Theatre shaking on Friday night. The band’s stomping cowboy boots on stage had beer bottles falling over and one of the monitors took a stage dive onto the floor. Since it was a monitor, and not a human, it was not very successful in crowd-surfing. – JB

Most likely to be a space cowboy – Willie Stratton

Most likely to be a real cowboy – Zachary Lucky
Saturday night went from singer-songwriter to country music to alt-folk to indie pop rock. Wearing a big cowboy hat and singing with some prairie twang, Zachary Lucky was by far most likely to be a real cowboy. – JB

Most likely to be Michael Cera – Mike Bochoff
Mike Bochoff stood on the stage with normal jeans, a plain white short-sleeved button-up shirt and I don’t remember what shoes he was wearing. He was a goofy character with vocals obviously inspired by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. He looked like Michael Cera, specifically if George Michael from Arrested Development had a band. So much Michael.

Mike Bochoff or Michael Cera? (Photo: Jonathan Briggins)
Mike Bochoff or Michael Cera? (Photo: Jonathan Briggins)