Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Icons & Instrumentals

Shanghai Aug 2012As 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.

Patti 6I was one of the lucky 800 (over two performances) to be in attendance at the AGO for “An Evening of Words and Song with Patti Smith” last Thursday evening as part of their “1st Thursday” series. When the tickets were put on sale early in February the AGO site crashed almost immediately and only those who lined up all night in one of the worst snowstorms of the season managed to score ducats. In conjunction with the 1st Thursday performances there is the Camera Solo exhibit at the AGO (running until May 19th), a screening, complete with a Q&A with Patti, of “Dream Of Life” at Jackman Hall, a book signing session at the AGO and a larger scale concert celebrating the life of Robert Mapplethorpe on the anniversary of his death at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  The Queen Elizabeth show featured her children Jesse and Jackson but sadly no Lenny Kaye (or drummer).

Patti 3The Thursday evening performance was incredibly intimate. As hundreds lined-up for the exhibit and perhaps a chance to find a good location to maybe hear the show, generations of the Toronto arts & culture scene streamed in to the Art Gallery Of Ontario for a look at the photography and personal items that Patti had on display. New scenesters mixed with those of us who remember buying “Piss Factory” as a seven inch single, from fashion bloggers to record company Presidents and magazine editors it seemed everyone was there.  In the high ceilinged Walker Court there was a simple stage set up of two microphones, a baby grand, two Patti 5acoustic guitars and a small P.A. system. There was no seating and it was both easy and comfortable to make your way to within ten feet of the stage. Along with her daughter Jesse Paris Smith on piano and Tony Shanahan on guitar and vocals they played nine songs in total with Patti also reading apropos passages from her book “Just Kids”. She spoke of Robert Mapplethorpe, Allen Ginsberg, Amy Winehouse and Neil Young amongst others. Prefacing “Because The Night” she told the audience that she wrote the lyrics with Bruce Springsteen and her portion of the song was inspired by her husband Fred “Sonic” Smith (The MC5). Jesse the daughter of Patti and Fred, was only seven when he died and it was rather heart wrenching when Patti told the story from stage and then Jesse started playing the piano intro. Other highlights performed that night were set closer “People Have The Power”, “Pissing In A River” and “Beneath The Patti 4Southern Cross”. They also paid homage to tour mates Neil Young & Crazy Horse with their rendition of Young’s “It’s A Dream”. Rather a magic evening all around. I may have to go back to see the photo exhibit as it was really crowded pre-show and I never got the chance to listen to Patti’s narration which you can download at the AGO site.

BendethOn the way home I dropped by a little gathering of the BMG Canada staff from 1991-1995. The reunion was a chance to get together with former BMG Bob Jamieson and the rest of the team. Great to see out of towners David Bendeth and Nadine Gelineau  along with Jamieson and one of the great Canadian rock’n’roll staffs of all-time.

For my continuing list of lists we are currently at the letter “I”. Tough one, decided to go with the lost art of instrumentals. It has been a very long time since an instrumental song topped the charts and with today’s general attention span I really can’t see another instrumental topping the charts any time soon. Here’s ten wordless wonders from the past.

01. “Hocus Pocus” – Focus  (1971)

A masterpiece from the Dutch band. Heavy as hell and no, yodeling does not constitute vocals. The song was used beautifully by Nike in their 2010 World Cup ad.

02. “Frankenstein” – The Edgar Winter Group (1973)

Originally the flip side of the single “Hangin’ Around” this monster became the hit. It took two to air drum the solo at parties. Best listened to in quadrophonic sound.

03. “Rumble” – Link Wray (1958)

Feedback and distortion way before they were cool. Introduced to a whole new generation via “Pulp Fiction”.

04. “Rebel Rouser”  – Duane Eddy (1958)

What Link was to distortion Duane was to twang. 1958 was a great year for the electric guitar.

05. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock (1983)

If it wasn’t for the ground-breaking video from Godley & Crème this song would not have been a hit (although it deserved to be). The beginnings of the MTV generation.

06. “Walk, Don’t Run” – The Ventures (1960)

Considered by many to be the springboard to the entire west coast surf scene. Did not realise the song was originally written and released by Johnny Smith in 1954.

07. “Green Onions” – Booker T & The M.G.’s (1962)

A slice of Memphis soul with Booker T. and his happy organ alongside the great Steve Cropper on guitar.

08. “Space Race” – Billy Preston (1973)

The instrumental follow-up to “Outa-Space”. Known to a generation as the bumper music on “American Bandstand” and not to be confused with the theme to the Rockford Files.

09. “Pipeline” – The Chantays (1962)

More surf! The only rock band to ever appear on The Lawrence Welk Show. Hanoi Rocks opened with this song at Larry’s Hideaway in 1984. I just “Googled” Hanoi Rocks at Larry’s Hideaway and the first instance was a story I wrote about them for DBAWIS. Cool.

01. “Telstar” – The Tornados (1962)

Maybe the beginning of the British Invasion on the charts. Written at the height of the original space race.


As a lover of music, sports and great writing I am taken almost daily to Grantland ( For a great long read check out this rather brilliant email exchange between this generation’s best rock writer Chuck Klosterman and Grantland staffer Alex Pappademas. They began with an email exchange when they heard that David Bowie was very near death last June. As we now know, witness the release of “The Next Day” this past Tuesday, Bowie is still alive and well. Here is their “Nobituary” –

Flaming Lips – Is David Bowie Dying?


Beginning next Wednesday March 20th and continuing until Saturday March 23rd I will be hosting a one hour daily webcast on “Shindig” live from Canadian Music Week. Each day between 4 PM – 5 PM I will be speaking live with musicians, featured speakers and general movers & shakers at CMW. You can watch live and participate at


The Bobcast Logo EmbossedSo here is a thought for Monday March 18th. Shake off your St. Patrick`s Day hangover at the Shanghai Cowgirl ( 538 Queen Street West) with a pint of Guinness and the all-day breakfast, or perhaps some Trailer Trash Sushi, and then walk right around the corner to Cherry Cola`s (200 Bathurst) for the first ever “Bobcast” featuring our very own Bob Segarini, sidekick and new DBAWIS regular Roxanne Tellier, house band Xprime, musical guest Lee Harvey Osmond (Tom Wilson), Canadian Music Week’s Greg Simpson and film maker Colin Brunton talking about his brilliant new documentary “The Last Pogo Jumps Again”. Doors open at 8 PM, show goes from 9 until 10. No cover but you are encouraged to buy a DBAWIS writer a cocktail.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Contact us at:

DBAWIS ButtonCameron 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, New Canadian Music and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

 Cam Shanghai Logo Inverted


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