The 2016 MusicNL Awards will be given out in Bonavista at this year’s gala on the 16th. For a list of shortlists, visit:

What makes the Group of the Year? The word group denotes some form of cohesion, legitimacy derived from a shared vision. It’s also a neutral term, encompassing not only bands but other musical collectives that may not fall into the traditional rock band class.

“I Don’t Know” by Fairgale

Calling the award “Group of the Year” is nice. Sweet even. But make no mistake, this year’s crop of nominees are bands. Rock bands stemming from every angle of a tradition dating back more than half a century. But no two bands are exactly alike in their process, let alone their sound.

Sometimes it’s a difficult task to cut through the politicking that belies provincial music awards. In this day and age, playing the game is almost as important as playing the music. Cultivating social media aptitude is imperative with few exceptions. Networking, marketing, and promotion are all tools that help to define a band, rather than just bolster them. This has always been true of the industry, but never as much as it is now.

“Dukes” by Repartee

This leads to waning sentiment about who deserves such awards in creative circles. Hesitancy from those who do not wish to fall within the confines of the industry machine. And feelings that lie between admiration and animosity for those who chose to engage with it.

Nevertheless, these are industry awards. In a such a small, isolated and insular music scene, the reach of MusicNL rarely excludes those worthy of artistic praise.

“Earth” by Cabbages and Kings”

Furthermore, these artists have become beacons of a productive and intuitive music network that manages to transcend the physical boundaries of Newfoundland and make strides in other markets. Newfoundland must not become stagnant in a rich Canadian music climate, and luckily MusicNL has chosen to showcase a veritable sampling of the best of Newfoundland bands.

The list is musically eclectic, reflecting that while Newfoundland is seeded by a rock lineage, it’s a diverse one. None of these bands are simply “players of the game.” Their craft is not limited to shaking hands or sponsored ads. They are six distinct groups, each with their own distinct sound.

“First Light” by Waterfont Fire

There may be others deserving of a nomination, but this slate have all worked to establish themselves musically (and otherwise) to be legitimate contenders to the title. There’s always going to be skepticism when it comes to plotting musicians against each other, as the prerogative of art is not based in awards or industry notoriety.

But the pragmatic view must be taken here; Newfoundland has a wealth of talent that has little avenue to expand outside. Every little push counts. Nevermind the politics, let’s celebrate what we have.

“You Gotta Remind Me” by the Long Distance Runners