SIX NATIONS — Harrison “Sweet Taste” Kennedy took home a Juno last Saturday night for the best Blues Album of the Year. The album was recorded at Jukasa Studios in Ohsweken.
The 73-year-old’s album, This is from here, earned him the prize at the 2016 Juno gala awards banquet at the Calgary Convention Centre. We sat down with Darren Magierowski, head engineer at Jukasa Studios, to learn more about the musicians’ journey to a Juno.
“Jukasa is a recording studio, so musicians contact us and ask how we can work together to develop a great album,” said Magierowski. “We’ve been hoping to work with Harrison for a long time now, it just worked out this time that we could finally collaborate.”
Kennedy, Magierowski and the rest of the team recorded the album in the summer of 2014 and released it in 2015 under Electro-fi Records — a Toronto based record label company. Magierowski said that the entire process had minimal road bumps and that working with Kennedy was a great experience.
“We spent a lot of time together and it was great working with him,” said Magierowski. “Harrison is one of the rare musicians that uses an ‘old school’ method of making music. He comes in, he performs, then he kills it — almost instantly.
“From the minute I heard the first test I knew we were on to something special, I didn’t know it would win a Juno but I knew we were going to make something great,” said Magierowski. He added that being a part of a Juno winning team feels awesome but that even before the album had been nominated he was praising the albums worth.
“One of the songs on the album, called You Me or Us, just might be my favourite,” said Magierowski. “I really like Motown, Blues and Soul music, so Harrison’s music is what I would listen to on my own — working with Harrison was great. He is a true professional.”
Kennedy is from Hamilton and can play several different musical instruments. On this album he stuck to playing the harp (better known as the harmonica in the Blues world) and singing vocals. Magierowski said that Kennedy is a really creative musician and was always suggesting different things to try out.
“There was a lot of spontaneity in the studio when we were creating,” said Magierowski. “He would come up with a lot of his ideas on the spot, whether it was trying something new with his vocals or changing a bar of music, he was not one to overthink trying something different. Clearly it worked since he won the award.”
Magierowski has been working for Jukasa Studios for roughly six years and he has been a part of several other success stories like this.
“Jukasa does a lot of really cool stuff. We have the complete package now,” he said. “We do studio recording, multimedia editing and mixing, education courses in our classroom and just recently we launched our new radio station.”
Magierowski said that working at Jukasa Studios has been a fantastic experience and that working with Kennedy was perfect.
“We’ve been in talks of working together again,” he said. “We’re definitely going to.”
The Two Row Times also wants to congratulate Buffy Sainte-Marie for winning two Juno awards last week. One for Aboriginal Album of the Year and another for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. It was a big night for her and Harrison.