Ryan McMahon of Ladysmith

Help see the Island music scene survive

Producer hopes to keep and grow Island Music Awards

The Vancouver Island Music Awards, hosted eight of the last 11 years, is on the brink of broke. Prior VIMAs operated on a $5,000 budget each year, with no profit.

“We need to be able to justify doing it again. That means having the funds and have the awareness,” said producer James Kasper. “I see it as an important event, but it needs to be important to the community on the rest of the Island. A lot of people do realize there is a music scene here on the Island but not everybody is in that loop.”

Last month he started a campaign to get 50 businesses to support the awards with $100 each.

“It’s been going for about three weeks and we’re up to a little over $700. It’s not much, we need a bare minimum of $2,000 just to move forward,” Kasper said.

The first stage, advertising a call for submissions, is set to start in September if the funding comes through. The event usually happens in April.

Ladysmith artist Ryan McMahon hopes to submit again this year after scoring three awards at last year’s Fairfield event.

“I’ve been doing it for 10 years professionally, although largely unrecognized, so to be recognized especially at home, that’s big,” he said. “The coolest part was getting to learn about other musicians right in my own back yard and that’s just as a music fan.”

He’s among those who crossed the water to spend time pursuing his craft in Vancouver.

“When I came home (to the Island) there was a huge part of me that thought ‘my music career’s going to really slow down’. The cool thing was was that I got the itch to play immediately,” McMahon said. “I realized (the awards) was going to be something that could generate awareness.”

The jury liked his acoustic solo set of songs All Good Stories, naming it album of the year.

McMahon was also male vocalist of the year and artist of the year for 2012. Afterward, McMahon toured Western Canada again. When he hit Winnipeg, the media asked about the Island awards. “It really had a far, far reach and totally helped my career,” McMahon said.

McMahon is among VIMA’s previous hosts, speakers and presenters that include Neil Osbourne of 54/40, The Irish Rovers, Vince Ditrich of Spirit of the West, Terry David Mulligan, and David Gogo. VIMA award-winners over the years include Armchair Cynics, Hayley Sales, Alex Cuba, Christine Evans, Todd Butler and Jets Overhead (then called Special Guests) – named artist of the year at the inaugural event in 2002.

“It’s been a launching pad for musicians like Hayley Sales, who was named female vocalist of the year several years ago,” Kasper said.

“That’s an important aspect of it, empowering local musicians to move their career forward. The whole idea is for this to be one night of the year when all facets of the music scene on the Island can come together, celebrate the scene, network and hopefully bring awareness of local musicians to the general public.”

For details on sponsoring the 2013 event email info@jameskasper.com or get details at islandmusicawards.com.

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com