Quality Records was my training ground. Back in the seventies there were no school courses teaching the music business. If you wanted to work in a studio you hung around studios and hopefully someone would ask you to pick up a broom or maybe get the engineer a coffee. If you wanted to work at a record company you needed to know who to talk to and where they might hang out. A good in was getting to know the label publicists and the easiest way to do that was by writing album and live reviews for your school newspaper. I starting doing this in high school and by the time I reached college I had a couple of good ins at the labels (as well as lots of free albums and concert tickets).
Archive for Cameron Carpenter
You don’t believe me? Just step outside and see me baby
I was a punk before you were a punk
You want some action? I’ll put your ass in traction baby
I was a punk before you were
I was a punk before you
I was a punk before you were
I was a punk before you”
The Tubes (Spooner/Evans/Waybill)
“A place to stand, a place to grow – Ontari-ari-ari-o!” Those of us who were in public school in 1967 will remember this song as the unofficial anthem of Ontario which was played at Expo 67 and on countless TV commercials. Did you know it was written by Dolores Claman who wrote the iconic “Hockey Theme” which graced the airwaves on the CBC before every “Hockey Night In Canada” from 1968 to 2008?
Be it in Canada, or while visiting our neighbours to the south, I have always been an east coast type of guy. Give me Halifax over Vancouver, St. John’s over Victoria and, most definitely New York over Los Angeles. In the past I spent a lot of time in both New York and L.A. as back in the good old days these were the two epicentres of the record biz. L.A. can have its charms in the short term, what with the weather and the ocean, but it is strange to be in a town where nobody walks. I walk everywhere and think nothing of a quick jaunt from the Beach in Toronto to downtown. People in New York walk. Manhattan streets are an obstacle course of fast moving people, yellow cabs, constant honking and ever present sirens. There is an energy and attitude in NYC that is sadly lacking in L.A..
I belong to the MAC Generation. Okay, maybe not MAC (but it sounded better in the context of the Richard Hell lyric) more like the Maybelline or Yardley Slicker generation. Now Elvis may have rocked a bit of guyliner in “Love Me Tender” or “Jailhouse Rock” but it was my generation of rockers who started to sport the serious makeup. I imagine they were sick of hippies, beads and tie-dye and wanted to, as Alice Cooper once quipped “to drive a stake through the love generation”. Alice, Iggy, The New York Dolls, Lou Reed, Kiss and scores of others brought the glam to rock. A decade or so later “hair bands” from the west coast would, with a healthy spray of Aqua Net, redefine the look and claim it as their own.
I spent most of Sunday and Monday evening glued to the live streams of the Jay Smith Family Benefits which took place in Halifax (Sunday) and Jay’s home town of Sydney, Cape Breton Island (Monday). To say it was emotional would be an understatement. There were songwriter circles in the afternoon which featured Gordie Sampson, Matt Minglewood, Lennie Gallant, Steve MacDougall, Matt Anderson, Thom Swift, Dustin Bentall and Bruce Guthro. They told Jay stories and sang the songs he wrote with them and some of their own.
I was having such a good day last Wednesday. I had submitted my DBAWIS column and then headed out for lunch with former Northern Pike Bryan Potvin. We had run in to each other a few times at CMW but it was either in a busy hotel lobby or a crowded club so we decided to get together on a quieter front to catch up. After lunch we headed over to Russ Mackay’s Blue Sound and Music so Bryan could have a look at some of the new/old gear Russ has brought it. While there we spent a few minutes with Canadian rock legend Larry Gowan who was overseeing his son laying down a monster drum track.
This column is dedicated with love to my friend Jay Smith – The Rock Ranger. RIP my friend.
How do you begin to describe a Canadian Music Week that started with a brisk walk through a blizzard for a Tuesday afternoon acoustic performance from The Box Tiger and ended early Sunday morning with The Dirty Nil channeling Fugazi? Thoughts of David Byrne singing “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?” come to mind.
For many it has already started with the East Coast Music Awards or the annual SXSW conference in Austin. It is convention season as Canadian Music Week is followed by The Hot Docs Conference and then the NXNE Music + Film + Comedy + Art + Interactive. Old friends, new friends, many late nights and far too many early mornings. As we speak we are on day two or three of CMW and there are three more days beckoning as well as 4 AM closing times.
As a fan of Patti Smith’s, even before she released one of the greatest albums of all time “Horses”, I am amazed how the city of Toronto has completely embraced her body of work . Her music, her art, her films, her books, her photography and her poetry have been completely embraced by the arts communities in this city. Last week you couldn’t go anywhere in T.O. without seeing the street posters for Patti Smith: Camera Solo, the beautiful cover story in Now peering out of newspaper boxes and laying happily read on many a streetcar seat, the glowing show reviews in the daily papers and on-line and the constant chatter on the radio about her career.