Cameron Carpenter: The NXNE’s Of The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll

CamWell that was fun. The twelve months of planning paid off as the 19th annual NXNE was the most successful ever. You’ve heard me babble too much about the Film Festival but it was a great success and our new home at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is fantastic. Please do yourself a favour and visit this theatre and watch their great programs (

YDS NXNE 2013The programming is what makes NXNE one of the great festivals in the world. The music team of John Kastner, Yvonne Matsell, Crispin Giles and Ryan Tonkin filled both the Yonge & Dundas Square and clubs all over the downtown core. YDS alone saw 145,000 fans witness killer shows from headliners Social Distortion, The National, Toronto’s own Billy Talent and Ludacris. The clubs were packed as I raced from The Bovine to Cherry Colas, Lee’s Palace to Grossman’s, The Drake to The Horseshoe and many, many others.

NXNE_LogoNXNE Comedy has over 200 comics performing in the city and also screened four feature length films all in the capable hands of Ryan Tonkin. Kate Hollett debuted NXNE Art at venues across the city and Art is sure to be a mainstay at NXNE 20. On top of all of this the Hyatt Hotel was buzzing as people flocked to NXNE Interactive panels and presentations. Special hats off to the amazing team of volunteers who are the real lifeblood of any festival.

The Jager Diaries

tiki bar_-2I started things off on Tuesday with a short visit to the Hyatt to check on the layout for the conference and ended up having a quick chat with our great new Festival Director Christopher Roberts. Canadian born, Christopher has spent the last few years down in NYC with Vice Records where he helped organize major events around the world, and only had a couple of months to set NXNE 19 into overdrive. I walked over to the Tiki Bar atop The Bovine and basked in the sun and dealt with any last minute emails and the fact that in a few short hours I would be 54.  The opening night party B. Ambrose, Cambeckoned but first a few pre-game pints were in order at Sweaty Betty’s with the amazing Ambrose Roche. Ambrose started the NXNE Film Festival and, due to family matters, was unable to do the programming this year. I got to know him three years ago when I started dating Wendi-Jane, who had helped Ambrose with the film fest for the first ten years. When Wend-Jane had to give up those responsibilities due to her daily work in film & television she suggested I would be a good new partner for Ambrose. Brose and I have been thick as thieves ever since. The Drake was packed and it was a great way to start the week. It was lovely to meet one of our very talented new Cool Planet clients Kristen Bussandri ( Midnight soon arrived and shots of Jameson welcomed my 54th year. Now, as it was Cherishofficially June 12th, I headed over to Cherry Cola’s for a toast with my birthday sister Cherish, who was sadly out for dinner. No worries, back to the Tiki where a group of regulars and I spent a few more hours talking about the week to come.

Wednesday was a quiet business day as the film festival was not going to kick off until Thursday. I headed over to the Hyatt, checked in and then met with my volunteer team of Danielle and Filipe to go over procedures for the A. The Birthday Quiltextended weekend. All was good.  Next was a get together with my kids Kari and Kyle, as well as their lovely mom Sue, and my daughter’s boyfriend Mario, for a few pints at Gabby’s on King. It was then over to The Dominion on Queen East to meet Wendi-Jane who surprised me with a Jane Stockwell designed rock’n’roll quilt. Wicked cool. Time to head home.

On Thursday morning I was back at the hotel to do some film press and a then had a nice chat and coffee with my old friend (he has me beat by a couple of months) Moe Berg. We are both very much adults now. The “Industry Mixer” at the Soho House was a new event and it was lovely to D.Christopher Roberts, Cam, Michael Hollettsee old friends Jake Gold, Franz Schuller (Grimskunk), Keely Kemp (OMDC), Handsome Boy Jeff Rogers, Now & NXNE’s Michael Hollett (Pictured L to R: Chis Roberts, Cam, Michael Hollet) and a gaggle of others. I wished I could have stayed longer but it was time for the film festival to kick-off. We had a great response to the new video from The Elwin’s “Forgetful Assistance” and then a standing ovation for the world premiere of the new documentary from Brendan McCarney and Mike Gillespie “Authentic – Young Rival’s Journey Through Canada”.  This was followed by another world premiere with another Canadian film “All Out War”, which was also very well received. Bboy’s battling each other in a boxing ring is a pretty cool site.  Between screenings I headed over to Lee’s Palace for a tasty bottle of Pilsner (the new hipster beer that is new to Ontario but took me back to The Models western Canadian tour in 1979) and saw a Grossmansgood set from Lydia Loveless. After the “All Out War” Q+A I darted over to a slammed Grossman’s Tavern on Spadina where Young Rival were rockin’ the classic jazz joint at their film after party. Nice to see In-Flight Safety, Hollerado, The Canadian Shield and other great bands showing their support. A quick jaunt down the street brought me to the craziness that is Dan Deacon. Hard to describe the show but imagine a human tunnel being built from the stage, by the patrons, all the way out to Queen West and back. John and JessicaNuts. After some Horseshoe patio chat with Collective Concert’s Craig Laskey, John Kastner and his talented and lovely lady Jessica Pare (Mad Men) and Michael Hollett it was off to a private late night party where Christopher Roberts was manning the turntables.

After introducing the brilliant film “Mistaken For Strangers” (for more than just fans of The National) at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema there was just Jager Partyenough time for a quickie shot at the annual Jagermiester/Exclaim! party which was held in a parking lot at Spadina and College and themed “Appetite For Construction”. Total rock’n’roll as George Pettit (Alexisonfire), and members of No Warning and Indian Handcrafts spun the rock from high above the crowd in a  SkyJack scissor crane while Jaeger construction girls handed out shades and applied sunscreen to the happy party goers. The Bovine staff manned the main bar and the Jager, PBR’s and Wild Turkey was flowing while early Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Fu Manchu tunes shook the buildings on College. I surprised my son at his office across the street, and after finishing work, and joined by the wonderful Lydia, he walked across the street to partake in the festivities. I wished I could have stayed longer than 45 minutes but the North American debut of “B.B. King – The Life Of Riley” was up next at The Bloor Hot Docs. Thanks to The Autumn Stone’s Gary “GB” Butler for the lift back to the theatre. Hope their set went well at Rancho. After introducing “The Rolling Stones – Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland 1985” I ran into Roy Pike who was torn between The Stones film and Montreal punk legends The 222’s at Lee’s. I let him know the movie was rolling and then joined him at Lee’s to see the great Chris Barry fronted rockers. Had a quick chat with Mountain’s Corky Laing and legendary local actor, writer Rob Stefaniuk (Suck, Phil The Alien) and the ever-charming Barb. Still looking for my Sumo+Cycobirthday sister Cherish I headed down to Cherry Colas, but, once again, she was not in the house. I was kind of taken with the hard rock female-front band Sumo Cyco on Cherry’s stage and then gobsmacked to find out the singer was Skye Sweetnam. skye_sweetnam_1Wow, she wasn’t the same girl I remembered when she was 14. As I ran around the corner to the Bovine to make sure the Spookey Reuben/David Daniloff short horror film “Puzzleface” had screened in the back room, I finally found sister Cherish and we hit the rooftop Tiki for our BD shots. Shortly thereafter Biblical laid down a monster set downstairs at The Bovine, heavier than a Christmas credit card debt. There was only one way to cap off the evening; porn-rap and horns with the 74 year old Blowfly at The Horseshoe. Good times.

E. Young Descendents FanSaturday at 1 PM we had the world premiere of “FILMAGE – The Story of DESCENDENTS / ALL. Half of the audience were still awake from the Flag show the night before but loved the film. Great to see so many bands in the house and love the fact that some very cool rock’n’roll parents brought this little dude.  It was great to be able to say hello to Keith Morris and Bill Stevenson the day before the screening as their tour commitments did not allow them to stick around for the screening, and, to have the producers and directors of the film up from Dallas to see their world premiere. With a few hours off there was time to attend the great Halifax Pop Explosion rooftop party and then have an hour or two for a nice dinner with Sue Carter Flynn and hubby Sean at The Tiki Bar. Great talk that went from movies, to music, to books and everything in-between and was D. Courtney and Jennifer James Global Groove Networkenhanced by the presence of Andy Kristoff. One more intro for the night at the world premiere of “The Global Groove Network”, a film about DJ and dance culture by Canadian DJ Courtney James, and then it was off to the annual Rock Star Hotel Party at The Spoke Club. Always a great party thrown by the fine folks at Front Row Centre Marketing, it went to another level this year when The Stranglers took the tiny stage. Got a chance to say hello to Jason Priestly as well as Raymond Perkins from Roots Canada, Sony prez Shane Carter and Instinct’s Michael Perlmutter, all of us old enough to know the classics like “Peaches” and “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)”. I tried to make it back to Cherry Cola’s in time for SoCal desert rockers WAXY but missed them by five minutes. I will have to make do with my copy of “Without Any Explanation Why” until their next Toronto show. They were followed by The 222’s who killed in the packed club. One more birthday shot with Cherish and then off to an after-hours party where Moe Berg was spinning. C. Cam,Christopher Roberts, Ian D'sa & John KastnerI saw Will Sasso on his way out and Dave Foley on his way in as well as John Kastner & Jessica, Rob Stefaniuk & Barb and a very happy Ian D’sa (Pictured: Cam, Christopher Roberts, Ian, John Kastner) who had just rocked Yonge & Dundas Square with Billy Talent to a crowd of 35,000.

Father’s Day saw a screening of “A.K.A. Doc Pomus” which is a film that every aspiring songwriter needs to see. It was gratifying to see a good sized mark_breslin_220crowd at the 1 PM screening. Next up was “Laugh Sabbath” which presented, and juried, a collection of comedy shorts to a very enthusiastic mid-day crowd. The film festival ended with “A Universal Language” which is a film featuring Yuk Yuks founder Mark Breslin. It’s the story of a group of comics who do to Israel to tour and find out what works when you cross borders.

My NXNE usually ends at the annual the pre-MMVA Field Party hosted by Cherie Sinclair (who would win 3 awards later in the evening). Fortunately for most party-goers I was almost completely without voice by 6 PM on Sunday and I was relegated to a mere whisper. Many were pleased. It seems every year NXNE co-founder Yvonne Matsell and I end up at the same table on the patio of the party and have a chance to compare notes on our weekends. We were both pleased.  I must say special thanks to jewellery designer Kristine Melville-Labrode at Laborde Designs ( for the lovely necklace as well as Canadian fashion designers Karv ( for the cool clothes. Both are Canadian and should be supported! Usually this is where the weekend ends but this year H.Wendi-Janewas special as Kyle was turning 24 and there was a family birthday/Father’s Day celebration at the very cool Gusto on Portland (at King).

Luv to Wendi-Jane for putting up with me for the week and the rest of the family Kari, Kyle & Susan Carpenter, Mario, Lydia, Bryan (and special Wheat Sheaf shout out to Justin).

And a very happy birthday this Saturday to the woman who made all of this possible Barb Kelly!

Follow me on Twitter @cc59

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar. The bar and BBQ opens daily at 4 PM and the BBQ rocks until 10 PM. Cocktails available after 10.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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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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