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- Posted on Apr 17th 2010 1:00PM by Lonny Knapp
Hailing from Oshawa, Ontario, a city better known for producing hockey players and frustrated auto workers than successful recording artists, Cuff the Duke is nominated for a Juno award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Lead singer, Wayne Petti, tells Spinner his band didn't expect the nomination.
"We operate on the periphery of popular music, and we don't make records to be nominated for things. It's such a cliché thing to say, but being recognized is such an honour. It makes all those years of touring a little more worth while."
Arguably, the best records are those that capture a distinct moment in time. Recorded in the dead of winter on a farm in rural Ontario, Cuff the Duke's Juno nominated 'Way Down Here' is one of those albums. It acts as a time capsule; listen close and you can hear the snow falling outside and the fire burning in the wood stove. Greg Keelor, co-leader of beloved Canadian roots-rockers Blue Rodeo, co-produced the album. His laid back attitude and jones for vintage gear informed the project.
"It was total old school. We recorded on 8-track one-inch tape. If you hear organ and piano on a track, it was recorded in one room with one microphone," Petti explained. "Greg has a wonderful no-bullsh-- approach to the business, and he helped focus us in the studio."
When Spinner caught up with Petti, his band was touring in support of Blue Rodeo. The veteran band has taken Cuff the Duke under their wing and Petti says Blue Rodeo's endorsement has led to a spike in album sales.
"When Blue Rodeo brings a band out on the road, their fans want to support that band, too. They have such loyal fans, and we are fortunate enough to reap the benefits," he said.
Petti calls Blue Rodeo, "the example of longevity in the business," and the veteran band's support can't be understated, but Petti has returned the favour. He sings on ten tracks on Blue Rodeo's 2009 double album 'The Things We Left Behind,' and often joins the band onstage. Cuff the Duke has a history of collaboration. The band has backed gruff-voiced songwriter Hayden, East Coast singer Christina Martin, and are currently opening for and backing up Serena Ryder on a string of U.S tour dates.
That tour kicked off in San Diego on April 12 and coincides with the American release of "Way Down Here," on Brooklyn-based indie The Ernest Jenning Record Co. Unfortunately, the dates clash with the Juno celebrations, meaning Cuff the Duke will be absent from the award ceremonies. Petti says he is disappointed to miss out on the festivities, especially hanging with the other nominees in the category.
Save for newcomer Julie Kendall who performs under the numeric moniker 1977, Cuff the Duke have a connection with each of the nominees. Last year, as a solo artist, Wayne Petti opened a slew of tour dates for his friend Howie Beck (;How to Fall Down in Public'), Cuff the Duke have often shared the stage with nominee Amy Millan ('Masters of the Burial') and the band's guitarist and pedal steel player, Dale Murray, contributed tracks to Joel Plaskett's Juno-nominated triple-disc ('Three').
The year's category for Adult Alternative Album of the Year is made up of stellar works by a group of tight-knit and well-deserving artists. There's no clear forerunner; nevertheless, Petti is pretty sure who is going to walk away with the trophy.
"I think Joel will win it for sure," he said with a laugh. " He wins everything, that guy."