After a year of planning and preparation, the first ever Fraser Valley Music Awards (FVMAs) took place on Saturday, July 16.
“I thought it went well,” said event organizer Jamer Kasper, who was hired for a one-year contract by CiVL Radio to plan the event.
While the event lasted nearly three hours, the amount of live music acts included in the program, as well as the comedic commentary by hosts Aaron Levy, CiVL Radio’s station manager, and local entertainer and musician Seth Bell, kept audience members entertained at all times.
Saint Soldier, winner of the hip-hop award, impressed the audience with his spontaneous poetry reading, while Harpdog Brown, the blues award winner, took the audience back a few decades. Other performers included Kin, The Kwerks, a folk performance by Matt Lowen and Rick Genge, and a tribute to David Bowie and Prince by the nominees of the “For & By Youth” category.
The top three finalists from CiVL Radio’s annual Battle of the Bands performed as well, and the winner was decided by an audience vote. Local group Mollys Reach took home the $750 cash prize, defeating the Sylvia Platters and Paravel.
The group was also named the first ever “Dakota Leslie Memorial Live Act” in memory of former CiVL Radio volunteer and program host Dakota Leslie who passed away last year.
The event saw an attendance of nearly 300 people, and Kasper noted that the low amount is a result of the event only being in its first year.
“The struggle, especially at the beginning of a first year event, is to try and get the word out to the general public,” he said. “Unfortunately, events like this are perceived as exclusively industry events and it takes a lot of convincing and branding a certain way to let the general public know that it’s a public event that’s open to everyone.”
The awards were held in the Abbotsford Arts Centre, a decision made by Kasper to attract a maximum amount of audience numbers. While the venue seemed slightly more upscale than simply hosting the event in a bar or hall, given the nature of the centre, it was much more appealing to the general public.
“This was a bit more of an intimate setting, a high-end venue,” Kasper said. “Maybe that adds a bit of prestige that draws in more of the general public; you’re not going to get as many people out to Brothers [Bowling].”
However, Kasper also noted that given the nature of the event, attracting the general public is easier said than done, especially during the inaugural year. Although the event was well attended, it was clear that this was an issue. Most of the audience members were either nominated for an award, or there supporting someone they knew who was.
“I would hope that moving forward, more people would get on board and realize this is for everyone, not just industry members,” Kasper said. “It’s just a matter of rinse and repeat until you raise a profile in the community.”
While Kasper won’t be around to help plan the FVMAs next year, he can see the event expanding in the future as it gains more attention.
“The focus will always be on the indie and the emerging artists, but more high-profile people will want to get on board with this as it develops,” he said. “Those people might not otherwise be heard or seen. This way we get the word out about these musicians and it provides local culture that people may not have known about.”