Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – T

Next week I will return to the T’s but right now I have a few…..


Seems to be a theme with most of those this week. I wrote this on Monday morning.

I couldn’t let this week go by without a few thoughts about both Whitney and the Grammy awards.

I was one of those folks who saw her first Toronto performance (to track) back at Club Bluenote in 1985. If I am not mistaken I was there with Raymond Perkins from Roots as we used to have Motown/Roots events at the club (which was across the street from the old Roots headquarters and  infamous “Coach House” on Avenue Road) and an invite for free drinks to see an upcoming artist was always welcome. It was pretty evident that night that this girl could sing. (Ed. Note: I introduced the very young Whitney at that promo party on Pears Street in Toronto, just her and a reel to reel tape recorder which played the backing tracks. The album wasn’t out yet, but she was an incredible singer and performer even then, and we all knew we were in the company of greatness. After her presentation, she came over to me and thanked me for my introduction and kissed me on the cheek. I will never forget that moment.)

In 1998 I was working with BMG and one of my projects was the “My Love is Your Love” album from Whitney. I flew down to New York for a media day and had scheduled in an interview with CBC. Things went a bit crazy in NYC and it was apparent that Whitney was not at the top of her game. I am pretty sure we had to cancel the interview.

I was a little worried when Whitney came to the Molson Amphitheatre in the summer of 1999. We had set up a meet’n’greet and those can always be hit or miss. I spent some time with her and her assistant Lynne and went over the details of who was going to be backstage, when the presentation would be, and how long she needed to be there. She was in a fabulous mood and gladly agreed to all of our wishes. The show was great and Whitney was in fantastic voice. The meet and greet went off without a hitch (other than the fact I snuck in Premier Mike Harris much to the chagrin of my record company President), awards were given; photos taken and everyone went on their merry way.

This weekend word started to vibrate on Twitter that Whitney had died. I searched for more reliable sources and pretty soon it was obvious the rumours were true. I was saddened but not shocked. Just the day before I was reading stories, and more telling, looking at the pictures, of her partying in L.A. before the show, and it was apparent she still had demons. I watched as “death porn” overtook social media and everyone put in their two cents about what went wrong. Me, I will keep that to myself and sadly acknowledge that another great talent is gone too soon.

As the annual Grammy Awards were the next night you knew that Whitney’s passing were going to have a profound impact on the show. As much as they frustrate me at times I do feel it is my duty to watch the major awards as I am in this business. Things got off to a strong start with a good performance by Bruce Springsteen. I loved seeing the joy on Little Stevie’s face as he traded riffs and sang back-up. Old time rock’n’roll. LL Cool J was the host of the show, and even though I have major problems with the networks schilling their series stars on their awards shows, at least he is an artist first and actor second. Apparently he went unscripted with his acknowledgement and prayer for Whitney at the top of the show. Although I am not a religious person I thought the words were heartfelt and appropriate. As for the rest of the performances there were some highs and lows as always. The Foo Fighters brought the rock in a big way (twice) and Dave Grohl gave one of the most passionate acceptance speeches of the evening. He is exactly as he comes across in concert as he is in real life. It was worth enduring the McCartney ballad just to get to the jam of “The End” at the conclusion of the show. It was guitar heaven as Springsteen, Walsh, and McCartney. Grohl and Brian Ray duked it out in a scene more worthy of a smoky bar than an L.A. hockey rink. Chris Brown, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj were all flash and little substance and seemed to be the type of artists that Grohl was eluding to in his acceptance speech. Somewhere in the middle was Bruno Mars.  I still have not bought in to him and the performance was half old Motown and half Morris Day. Good, but nothing original. I would still take Terrance Trent Darby. Adele was everything she was supposed to be both performing and accepting. Talent with no gimmick will always shine a little bit brighter. The Glen Campbell and Beach Boys segments were decent but I would have preferred Glen to sign a different song and also to have grabbed a guitar and played with The Beach Boys but I imagine his current condition would not allow for that and we should be thankful we got to see him in the spotlight one more time. I am not a huge fan of Foster The People but was charmed by them in the Beach Boys segment. Sure they were nervous but I though they pulled it off and loved the fact they rocked the classic Pendleton shirts. Speaking of charming The Civil Wars took their sixty seconds and made a Mumford & Sons-sized impression and next day iTunes charts attest to that fact. Perhaps every year a complete unknown band should be given 3 minutes to shine and the public can decide. With the money that could be saved from the production and salaries of such overblown shows as American Idol, The Voice and X Factor  you could record thousands of local bands. Hey Juno Awards, wanna give Amos The Transparent a three minute shot on the show this year? They are from your host town of Ottawa and they have a banjo (a recurring theme in this year’s Grammys). Speaking of banjos hats off to Taylor Swift for a fine performance as she rocked “Mean”. Maybe because I am knee deep in the series “Carnivale” right now but I thought she sounded and looked great. Jennifer Hudson did a nice job on the Whitney tribute but I might have preferred Dolly singing her hit as well. Coldplay were decent but I have had enough of the neon (but glad they have stopped taping their fingers) and Rhianna just does not do it for me.

All and all it was one of the better Grammy shows and it seems like people were watching as they had their highest ratings since 1984.  Let’s hope the Juno Awards can do the same. Last week they announced the 2012 nominees in the very funky setting of the Design Exchange. No real surprises and some enthusiasm for what William Shatner will do as the host. In June he gave the commencement speech for my son’s class at McGill and he was pretty entertaining so I am willing to bet he will do a good job at the Junos. The last time the awards were in Ottawa one of the highlights was the Juno train and I hope they plan on bringing that back this year. The awards will air Sunday April 1st on CTV.

Now I know that some of our writers don’t care at all for sports but you can all be good sports (and support a very good cause) but watching this short video by two of my favourite people in the Canadian music industry producer  Garth Richardson and  54.40’s Neil Osborne.

Cool Planet News

Our company Cool Planet Entertainment/45 Records does not have any Juno (or Grammy) nominations this year but we are gunning for 2013. This week sees the release of Goodnight My Dear…I’m Falling Apart from Amos The Transparent on glorious vinyl. If you happen to go to a Cineplex Theatre during the month of March you might see them before your film. If you are near a radio Friday morning you can tune in to Q with Jian Ghomesi on CBC and hear them perform a couple of songs.  I will be in Ottawa at Ritual this Saturday night for the record release party (there is a Toronto show February 25th at The Horseshoe) and then travelling to Montreal  Sunday for the record release party of our new band M.T.L at La Sala Rossa. Produced by Justin Gray (who wrote a track on the new Glen Campbell record) this five piece Montreal band has topped the Quebec charts in French and will soon be on the English charts as well. Our very own Morgan Cameron Ross will open the show Sunday night and his new video “Johnny” has just been added to MusiquePlus. His new album is available from Sparks Music/Universal. Also on Sparks is the debut album from Papermaps which I highly recommend.

Congrats to my boys Gloryhound for playing four sold out shows with the legendary Deep Purple on the east coast last week. These kids have been fighting the uphill rock’n’roll battle for the past two years and things are finally starting to happen as their single “Electric Dust” is being played from coast to coast and charting nationally. They will be heading to Ontario for the month of March and there will be lots of shows across the province. All stacks, no Mac’s as we like to say.

As always if you are in Toronto and looking for a cool rock’n’roll diner please visit our friends at Shanghai Cowgirl 538 Queen Street West. It is right beside the world famous Bovine and around the corner from Cherry Cola’s.

Cameron’s column appears every Thursday
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Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

5 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – T”

  1. Fascinating stuff, Bob… BUT almost impossible to READ. Small type is bad enough in any case (except at the bottom of airline ads, when they point out that the ads are really not accurate). But sans-serif type is harder still to read, ESPECIALLY when it’s in white (reverse) type on a black background. LOOKS smart and trendy and cool and whatever, but you can’t fucking READ it. So, Bob, black type on a white (or yellow) background. Use Times Roman, and make the type size bigger. Then I can tune in every day to actually read what you, and good folk like Cam, have to say… Shoot. I’ve just given myself a headache writing this note…

  2. I got to watch the show this past Sunday and it was very entertaining and perhaps one of the best shows since 84 which back then these award shows has some special meaning. Whitney’s sudden passing is still being talked about and like everybody all over it was a shock that nobody expect would happen. I had great admiration of Whitney whose contribution to music is praised by everyone that her talent would have a big impact in the industry. It surely did in her productive years 85-93 she was one of the most popular artists that was up there with Michael Jackson, Madonna, & Prince whose popularities were at their peak. Her biggest trimph was her hit I Always Love You which was penned by Dolly Parton who had two straight hits of that song and Whitney made that song her own that has now become her crowning legacy on music. She would never get close to that again but she did manage to continue having chart hits. In the last few years of her Life Houston’s life became of a former pop star living in a tumultuous marriage of another pop star whose drug abuse became fodder of news reports that may have been the slow decline of her great success which is fueled of bad substance use. She finally left Bobby Brown and was hoping to make a comeback which at the time it seemed she has finally seen the light. Sadly on February 11th she was found in a bathtub by one of her assistance and it was a very tragic sudden end of one of the great voices in pop music. Whiney left us way too soon but her time on earth are going to be cherished of memories of her music that will live on forever.

  3. Taylor Swift’s “banjo” is actually a 6 string guitar on a banjo frame, tuned and set up like a guitar. Beats having to learn a new instrument. If anyone finds these columns hard to read, (or if anything on your screen is too small) and you are lucky enough to have a Mac, just press the “Apple” key and the “+” sign on the right hand side numbers keys. And voila, whatever is on your screen gets bigger. The “-” key makes it smaller.

    • PCs do the same thing, John. I don’t understand the difficulty reading the grey type against black, but then I enlarge everything on my monitor. Maybe I should send a black on white version to those who ask for it, but out of all the comments, emails, and Facebook messages I get regarding DBAWIS, these are the only complaints about the black/grey print. Hmmm…what to do…?  bob


  4. Bob, my comment on enlarging the type size was not really meant for you, it is not surprising to me that you know how to do it. However, obviously a certain someone does not know how, and it was for his benefit I mentioned it. Once the type is bigger, it is very easy to read.

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