Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Road to Meeting Fred Penner at the JUNOs (A Letter to...)

Fred Penner
Dear Mr. Penner,

I met you at the Universal after party post-2013 Juno Awards in Regina. You may not remember me specifically because I was one of about 30 people in their late twenties who attacked you in the coat room on your way out. "Fan-girling over Fred Penner" was a weekend must for most people.

Did you know that statistically you were the most sought after person at the Universal party based on number of photo ops? And there were multiple Juno winners present. Just saying, I do know how to pick them.

I told you when we met that it was my 'Juno weekend goal' to meet you. You may have thought I was kidding, but I was 100% on Fred Penner watch my entire time in that cold godforsaken place (no offense Regina, but God pretty much forgot about your unfortunate city). I lived in Fred Penner's Place as a youngin' - we were basically besties (Well, us and Mr. Dressup - that dude taught me how to tie my shoes) so this has been a long time coming.

There were many other celebs present in Regina over the weekend - many much more 'current' than you, but I didn't hear anyone freak out after bumping into Hedley at the mall. Nope, it was Penner weekend.

I always had my camera handy, ya know, just in case I ran into you randomly. I was able to get my photo taken with a bunch of other notables before my main photo op of the weekend occurred. So let me tell you my road to meeting you...

First I went to the Welcome Reception Gala on the Friday night. It was at the RCMP drill hall and there were horses that drooled on people before they went inside*...the gymnasium. It was a 'gala' inside a gymnasium.

Were you there? At this point I didn't even know you were in Regina so I wasn't on the lookout. I could have saved myself a lot of stress had we met on the first night, but whatever.

The next day I found out in the morning that you played an impromptu hotel room show with Jim Cuddy the night before. Words cannot describe my jealously. I had to go do some interviews and all I could think was "Does Fred Penner still have a publicist? Why didn't I book an interview with him?"

My first interview of the day was with the Rap nominees SonReal and Rich Kidd.* They were legit, I think you would have enjoyed their stories about almost getting in fights on East Hastings and their general overall demeanor.

Jim Cuddy
Then it was over to a press conference at the Brandt Centre with Michael Buble. I am assuming he watched Fred Penner's Place as a child because he is just such a lovely human, how could he not have? He took photos with the media after the conference, didn't have to, just did it. Kind of like you in the coat room (but less epic, obviously).*

Next it was off to Fan Fare at the mall. It was awful...screaming kids, tweens that dyed their hair with Kool-Aid. I know you would probably tell me not to be judgmental, but seriously - someone slap them.

I met up with one of the Juno Pop nominees, Kristina Maria*, she was ALSO lovely. Didn't stay long cause the pungent smell of youth was sick. I would ask you if you were there, but I know you're not that stupid.

Last interview of the day was at Hotel Sask. While I was waiting for my band to arrive I bumped into your friend Jim Cuddy. I wanted to ask where you were but then thought he might think that was weird so I asked for a photo instead. He left and I was like...WHAT IF THAT WAS MY ONLY SHOT!?

The Pack a.d. (Maya Miller and Becky Black)
I took the ladies from The Pack a.d. to a quiet place in the hotel hallway for their interview...secretly hoping that you would pop out from around the corner. They were the most intimidating of the people that I had met this weekend. If you watch their music video for Positronic you will understand.

I took a slow walk out of the hotel after that and didn't see you. Foiled again. I headed back to my dump of a hotel to get ready for the untelevised portion of the Junos - the Gala Awards night.

I was back in the Juno media room, just finishing up asking the guys from The Tenors if they signed the boobs of one of the Real Housewives of Vancouver when I get a text from the floor - 'Fred Penner is here'. NO WAY. I couldn't leave my post in the media room and before I could get to you you had left to go live it up somewhere else.

I heard that everyone was going to JunoFest in the evening. Everyone COULD possibly include Fred Penner, so I went.
Classified singing Oh Canada

I was told all the cool kids would be at the Classified show in the main tent downtown. So I went there and didn't see you. I don't really know your musical preferences, but I am willing to bet money that that probably wasn't you're scene at all.

The rest of the night was a couple taxi rides, some good bands and a trip to Denny's before we headed home. I didn't look for you in Denny's because, well, you're Fred Penner. You don't eat at Denny's.

4:00 AM on Sunday morning and we arrived back at our hotel. Still no Fred Penner sighting.

Hannah Alper
Sunday morning was pretty uneventful...we tried to go for lunch downtown and every place we went to was closed so we ended up going to a disgusting mall restaurant. You weren't there either, and like Denny's I didn't look for you. Came back to our hotel and some lovely person had puked outside our door (in the middle of the day I might add). Great. Then Rick Campanelli walked by smelt the vomit and was like "sick guys". I was thinking...I think Ricky staying at this hood hotel is worse than the puke. ET Canada sure didn't splurge.

After that I was off to the Juno Awards night. The media room was packed and people were asking questions that ranged from legit to 'what do you think of the weather' (the latter people did not watch your show, guaranteed). It was ridiculous.

The star of the media room was not an award winner, it was 10 year old Juno eco-blogger Hannah Alper. Unfortunately she didn't grow up watching Fred Penner. I don't even know what kids that young watch...Teletubbies? Something gross I'm sure. She had every winner wrapped around her little finger...and just when the media room started to turn on her due to jealousy she brought everyone boxes of Tim Bits. You just can't beat that kind of foresight.

After we wrapped for the evening it was time to go get ready for the after parties. First it was over to Warner's. Your friend Jim Cuddy was playing when we arrived, but you weren't there. Michael Buble showed up with five bodyguards and went into a back room so no one could talk to him. I mean, I know no one lives up to hosting expectations, but did he think people were going to pour drinks on him? We are in Canada Michael, calm down with your body guard posse.

That's when it happened. I received multiple messages that I was at the wrong party. Why? Because you were at the one being hosted by Universal! We left the bodyguard infested shin dig and headed over to find you.

I walked in the door and we immediately ran into T-RexXx. He shook my hand and asked me how I was doing and I replied "I need to find Fred Penner, like right now!" He totally understood and sent us to the coat room.

...and there you were. A Juno miracle!!

You left and my life was complete, but I stayed for the free booze. Every person I talked to after that knew that I met you: Dean Brody, Adam Cohen, SonReal...and that one judge from Canadian Idol.

I have been told, since returning from the VAG, that I wasn't allowed to talk about meeting you anymore. Can you believe that? So rude. That's why I decided to write this letter, to forever immortalize the memory of the time I tried all weekend and finally met Fred Penner.


*All of these events were photographed...what happened to my memory card is a whole other letter. Check back next week and see if I was able to recover them.


  1. I loved Penner's Place!!

  2. Great stuff, Jes!!
    Your next mission, should you choose to except it - locate Word Bird! He'll be sure to deliver your letter to Mr. Penner :)

  3. Hello Jes,

    Yes indeed it was a weekend to remember. Thanks for 'tracking me down' Until we meet again.

    BTW...WB says hello!!


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