Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – A Place To Stand

Shanghai Aug 2012“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?

The Wawa GooseI have been fortunate enough to travel to every province in this great country of ours but Ontario is the one I call home. I have seen the “sleeping giant” in Thunder Bay, stared at the monster goose in Wawa, broken down on a boat in the middle of Lake Simcoe and caught monster largemouth bass in Chemong. From the Tunnel Bar-B-Q in Windsor to Chez Piggy in Kingston I have been served great food. I have started a Billy Idol tour in Sudbury and finished tours in Toronto. Anyone who is worth their road legs has done the Toronto to Winnipeg drive at some point and seen most of the province.

Last December I wrote a story about the top ten Toronto albums. Now it is time to pay fair dues to the other great towns in this province and the music that was born there.

1.       The Tragically Hip – Kingston

There has not been a bigger story in Canadian rock during the last thirty years. Gord Downie, Gord Sinclair, Rob Baker, Paul Langlois and Johnny Faye are still the original members and going as strong today as they were three decades ago. The have released 15 records (including live recordings and EP’s), taken home 14 Juno Awards, were introduced to America by their friend and Kingston brother Dan Aykroyd on “Saturday Night Live”, are in the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame, Canada’s Walk Of Fame and will even have their own postage stamp this summer. They changed the idea of the modern tour with their unique “Another Roadside Attraction” tours in 1992 and 1993 and still are capable of selling out any hockey arena in this country. Fiercely Canadian, fiercely Kingston.

Also from Kingston and cut from the same cloth as The Hip are The Headstones. The boys have a nice album right around the corner and you can pick up their new single at iTunes. Great to see them back together again.

Also watch out for new Kingston band “Glorious Sons” who are making some major waves with their great live performance.

2.       Teenage Head – Hamilton

Frankie Venom loved that town and his Tiger Cats. Teenage Head brought punk to the often maligned steel town and proudly spoke of their home wherever they travelled. The started to hang out in the Toronto punk scene in the late seventies and soon became the most commercially successful of all of their contemporaries. By the summer of 1980 “Somethin’ On My Mind” was all over pop radio and the boys were causing a full scale riot at Ontario Place effectively having the genre banned at the old Forum as well as performing at the legendary “Heat Wave” show at Mosport.  Let’s not forget that The Segarini Band were the openers at the Ontario Place show. The band has had enough ups and downs to make for a compelling movie and from car wrecks to the death of Frankie but still manages to soldier on under the rock’n’roll leadership of original members Gord Lewis and Steve Mahon (the only member of the band to perform every Teenage Head gig). Old friend Peter MacAuley know handles lead vocals taking “Frankie’s space, not place”.

Hamilton has also given the world the amazing Tom Wilson and his many bands, Daniel Lanois, The Forgotten Rebels and Crowbar.

3.       The Spoons – Burlington

Right around the corner from Hamilton lays Burlington and the famous Skyway. This is the town that spawned new wave sensations The Spoons.  They were formed in 1979 by guitarist/vocalist Gordon Deppe and bassist vocalist Sandy Horne (both still active with the band) and after one indie record where snapped up by the hotshot Ready Records. With world renowned producers such as John Punter and later Nile Rodgers the band were making waves on both sides of the border. The band played the legendary Police Picnic in 1982 at the CNE stadium alongside Joan Jett, A Flock Of Seagulls, The English Beat, and of course, The Police. They are still playing shows, making new music and re-releasing their back catalog.

Burlington is also famous for Finger Eleven (also produced by John Punter at one point) and Walk Off The Earth.

4.       Treble Charger – Sault Ste. Marie

Although they became famous when they moved to Southern Ontario it was in Sault Ste. Marie that Treble Charger was formed. Greig Nori, Bill Priddle, Rosie Martin and Morris Palter formed NC-17 in 1992 but were soon forced to change their name due to American band by the same name threatening to sue. Soon they were Treble Charger and had a college radio hit with their song “Red”. With four major label records the band managed to score gold on two and platinum on another. After a couple of reunion shows in 2012 (the band broke up in 2006) it is uncertain what the future holds for Treble Charger. Nori has been busy producing bands and appearing on various MuchMusic shows and Priddle did release on album under the name of The Priddle Concern.

5.       Three Days Grace – Norwood

You couldn’t pick a more unlikely town in Ontario to home to one of the most successful rock acts in North America during the last ten years than Norwood. I have been to Norwood as it is located just north of Hastings where I would spend every opening weekend of walleye season. Norwood is east of Peterborough and southwest of Havelock to put it into some sort of perspective. This band has racked up some serious gold and multi-platinum on both sides of the border. Even the departure of long time vocalist Adam Gontier hasn’t slowed the band as My Darkest Days vocalist Matt Walst has stepped in to fill the void and help out the band which features his brother Brad on bass.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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Click on the banners of all of our great sponsors including The Shanghai Cowgirl, Toronto’s hippest rock’n’roll diner at 539 Queen Street West.  Now the rumours that have been floating around the city for the last couple of weeks are true. Much liked a loved radio station The Shanghai Cowgirl is going to change formats. Later this spring my beloved Shanghai will become the second location for “Rock Lobster”. Shanghai/Bovine owner DarryI Fine, along with partners Alan Thomson and Rock Lobster founder Matt Dean Pettit, promise Shanghai-like late weekend hours as well as some speedy seafood take-out. I will miss my chicken fried steak and sweet potato fries but there is something to be said for a 2 AM lobster roll (shades of late night partying in Maine). Next week will be your last time to dine at Shanghai so get your ass down there. After that they hope to have Rock Lobster ready at the beginning of June. 

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.

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