Photo by George Pimentel

Two Flare editors, two photographers, one record company publicist, one stylist, two makeup company representatives, and two ‘handlers’—we were all packed into one small room to snap a quick shot of the world’s number one pop music phenomena—Justin Bieber from Stratford, Ontario. The pint-sized pop star whipped up Bieber Fever in St. John’s Newfoundland where the Canadian music industry and media, including FLARE, celebrated the 39th annual Juno Awards.

Everyone was talking about Bieber – from Michael Bublé and Dallas Green to the screaming hordes of little girls hoping to sight the 16-year-old. When I met him, he was polite but reserved and reminded me of Donny Osmond from his Puppy Love days.

The rest of the weekend was, as always, fantastic. I first attended the Junos in Calgary in 2008. I love music but the weekend’s worth of events gave me a whole new perspective on the breadth of talent we have in the Canadian industry.

One of my favourite events is the Songwriters Circle. This year, it was held at the Arts and Culture Centre at Memorial University. Broadcast live by CBC Radio, the two hour event is divided into two hour-long segments. Each hour features three musicians and a host – this time Dallas Green of Alexisonfire and City and Colour. Each guest introduces their song and then sings – no back-up singers, no band. The pure sound of their voices was unexpected and beautiful. Lights, Amy Millan and Bahamas were in the first set; Alex Cuba (the showstopper), Michael Kaeshammer and Amelia Curran were in the second. With the banter between the musicians, it felt like I was being entertained in my living room.

After the live television show on the 18th, rumours started to swirl that fog and possibly volcanic ash were going to strand travelers for the next few days. Sadly, instead of hitting the Warner / FLARE party (which didn’t shut down until 5:30am!), we dashed to the airport to get on a last minute flight scheduled to leave at 1:30am. Several people joked that it was the airport after-party. And it was a brilliant guest list – the Barenaked Ladies, Metric, Shiloh, and Justin Bieber who entertained himself with an iPad. Even the established musicians and record company executives stopped to stare at the People magazine cover boy.

Next year, the 40th annual Juno Awards will be held in Toronto, and televised on March 27, 2011. In the meantime, I’ll be picking up the compilation disc of this year’s nominees…and planning a music themed week for next March.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter.