Aqpik Jam number 17 satisfies everyone’s taste in Kuujjuaq
“The whole town pulled together”
KUUJJUAQ —The members of the committee in charge of Kuujjuaq’s Aqpik Jam music festival may have found the perfect recipe for success with this year’s festival, which took place from Aug. 14 to Aug. 17 in Nunavik’s administrative hub.
To celebrate the savory aqpik berry, the committee, steered by the municipality, selected the finest blend of northern ingredients from Nunavik, Nunavut, Labrador and Greenland, as well as southern Canada for its jam: throat singing, hip hop and beat box, folksy accordion music, country and rock ‘n’ roll, with a dash of rap and heavy metal.
The whole was served with hearty humor, topped off with zesty cheer.
Gagnon agreed to perform at Aqpik Jam’s closing night last Friday.
Impersonating a countless array of celebrities, from Elvis Presley to Barry White, from David Bowie to Lady Gaga, the extraordinary vocalist won a standing ovation, “one of the loudest I’ve heard at Aqpik Jam,” said Derek Tagoona, in charge of the festival’s promotion, scheduling and sound checks.
But that’s not all the entertainment that music lovers heard.
Matia Pironti, who has appeared on “The Voice Israel” and worked with Joe Juneau promoting hockey in Nunavik, also performed.
The Innu duo of Florent Vollant and Claude McKenzie, who reunited as Kashtin during Aqpik Jam in 2010, were also part of the lineup, returning by popular demand.
Adamie Padlayat and Eric Atagotaaluk, from Inukjuak, who were another crowd favourite, interpreted popular Inuit cover songs known across the North, which they recorded on an album this past winter.
And let’s not forget Nunavimiut’s favourites, Beatrice Deer and Sinuupa, also known as Etua Snowball, whose latest album “Culture Shock,” nominated for Best Rock CD, could very well win one of the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. (You can cast your vote here before Sept. 3.)
The music of Full Moon Fever, a Tom Petty tribute band, also hit home with the fans, but not as much as Marilou Martin’s Katy Perry tribute, which got the young people’s attention, along with Iqaluit’s Jerry Cans and Montreal rockers Jonas and the Massive Attraction.
Johnny Adams, one of the event’s coordinator, was pleased because “the performers, some of whom also got the chance to go out fishing and tour the community with their hosts, were very happy to be part of the celebration.”
Igloolik rock band Northern Haze, who returned this year, told Aqpik Jam’s MC Tunu Napartuk that “everyone in Kuujjuaq was so nice and welcoming that they would come back anytime.”
“The whole town pulled together, everybody doing their part in one way or another, to make Aqpik Jam a success,” said Adams, also a municipal counselor, who worked hard to get Gagnon to the festival.
“The region’s airlines, First Air and Air Inuit, were definitely a big help, along with Air Greenland, in making everything go smoothly,” said Sarah Berthe, who was in charge of logistics.
Many sponsors also pitched in, including Makivvik Corp., the Kativik Regional Government, Kuujjuamiut and the Northern Village of Kuujjuaq, as well as many other regional organizations and local businesses.
The festival also featured its traditional aqpik-picking contest, won by Elena Labranche, who picked the most berries once again this year. The Aqpik Jam cake contest was won by artist Sammy Kudluk.
During the last night, Friday, a brand new Aqpik Jam-themed fashion contest was organized, which Lucy Johannes won with a gorgeous dress featuring aqpiks, before she went on to play accordion.
After a few tunes by the young rapper Qalingo Napartuk, everybody went out to watch a display of fireworks put together by Mark T. Gordon and his crew, along with a few trainees from different communities of Nunavik, ending one of the best Aqpik Jam’s so far with a big bang.