The 2018 Juno weekend kicked off in Vancouver last night, as nominees took the stage at bars, clubs, and churches across the city.

JUNOFest celebrations at the Railway Club showcased a great line-up of groups who put a modern spin on diverse strains of traditional music.

The night was kicked off by high-tech World Music trio Autorickshaw. The group plays an innovative blend of jazz and traditional Indian music, with versatile vocalist Suba Sankaran sliding seamlessly between contemporary, jazz, and classical styles.

Highlights of their set included girl power narrative “The Trouble With Hari” (which featured Sankaran playing the parts of an artistic young girl and her judgmental neighbours), “anti-love song” “Still Standing,” and a great cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street.”

Iqaluit roots rockers The Jerry Cans then had the crowd dancing and clapping along to their lively northern jigs, sung largely in Inuktitut and incorporating traditional Inuit throat singing.

They also treated the crowd to a heartfelt, Inuktitut-langauge cover of The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century.” Introducing the track, lead singer Andrew Morrison urged audiences to continue to reckon with the “uncomfortable” parts of Canadian history.

There was also a lively tribute to seal meat, a Northern food staple that is often the subject of intense (and ignorant) international controversy, and several impressive throat singing solos.

They were followed by B.C.-based bluegrass rockers Rollin’ Trainwreck, who played a rollicking set. “We don’t get our name for nothin,'” they quipped.

As can be expected with Juno Week shows, it was a great showcase of the diversity of Canadian music.