Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – C Stands for C and Be Seen

CamIt has been quite a rock’n’roll week.  With TIFF taking over the city (and bars on extended 4 AM hours) there are far too many events to attend. Last Wednesday night I attended the sonaBLAST! Records Canada ( annual TIFF kick-off party at The Brant House.

BellwoodsIt was business meets pleasure as Morgan Cameron Ross, who we manage, performed with his new band Bellwoods , which features Alan Snoddy, best known for playing guitar for Stars for many a year. The two of them are the nucleus of the band but they plan to play and record with a number of their friends. This was their coming out party in Toronto and they did a great job of entertaining the troops as they performed acoustically in the alley of the club. They were followed by the full-on rock of Poor Young Things. Spotted in the audience were legendary publicist Richard Flohill (with his new haircut), old pal Jake Rob Barb JessicaGold and the omni-present Rob Stefaniuk and his lovely wife Barb. Rob is best known in the film world as the writer and star of “Suck” which introduced Jessica Pare to the world. Thanks to sonaBLAST!’s John Davidson and Lindsay Dworkin for the great party and for introducing everyone to the music of Bellwoods.

Lenny and Patti 2On Thursday night Patti Smith and long-time guitarist Lenny Kaye were spotted in the audience of Jim Jarmusch’s TIFF screened film “Only Lovers Left Alive”. No surprise here as Patti, Lenny and Jim are old friends, and a lot of the film takes place in Patti’s old stomping grounds Detroit. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt this is the American director’s first foray into the vampire genre but also is based on a reclusive rock star (Hiddleston).

MasseyOn Friday Patti graced the stage of the iconic Massey Hall in Toronto for her first show at the venue since 1976. This has been a big year for Patti in the city with her “Camera Solo” installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a couple on intimate acoustic performances and readings at the AGO show as well as a sold-out acoustic show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre back in March.  Shortly after that show it was announced that Patti would be returning to the city with her Lenny patti-smith-10Kaye/ Jay Dee Daugherty/Tony Shanahan-anchored rock band. Now I loved Patti acoustic but nothing compares to her balls-to-the-wall electric. Opening with “Dancing Barefoot” the band then switched gears to “Redondo Beach” fromHorses and, after putting on her specs Patti read the poem that introduces “Birdland” (also fromHorses) which, by a quirky series of events, now resides in my collection.

Birdland 001

After “Fuji-San” from her latest album Banga it was right back to Horses with “Break It Up”. Rumour has Lenny and Patti nowit that Patti records all of her set lists and was careful not to repeat too many numbers from the shows earlier in the year. This was great news for fans of her earlier work as almost half the set came from horses and Radio Ethiopia. She was in a decidedly playful mode as she spoke of Jim Jarmusch, sang an ode to Nicole Kidman in honour of TIFF and between some hard core spits, delivered as great a Patti Smith show as I have ever seen.  Right hand man and rock historian Lenny Kaye (hey he put together the Nuggetscollections) took over and paid tribute

Patti and Lenni onstageto Nuggetts  by ripping thru some garage classics (and shouting out local legends The Paupers and Luke & The Apostles) while Patti happily did the Pony and The Frug with the fans in their seats as she skipped up and down the aisles. She paid tribute to Amy Winehouse with “This Is The Girl” and then went into another tribute with “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” from John Lennon’s Double Fantasy. The show built to an amazing climax with “Pissing In A River” and “Gloria” before the encore of “Banga” and “Rock N Roll Nigger” which finished with Patti pulling the strings from her electric guitar. A truly amazing show.

On Monday night my old pals The Proclaimers were back in Toronto for the world premiere of the film “Sunshine On Leith”. Here’s a great little clip from Global News chatting to the boys about the film (and yes, I do have a shout-out in it).

I was looking forward to seeing Craig and Charlie again but more than delighted when I found out that their manager Kenny MacDonald would proclaimers460be coming in from Edinburgh to attend the screening. Kenny and I go back to the late 80’s when I was with Chrysalis Records and we wanted to release the album “Letter From America” in Canada (the U.S. company had passed on the release).  Along with his former business partner John Telfer we arranged the band’s North American debut at The El Mocambo shortly after the release of “Sunshine On Leith”. John knew the venue as he was once the manager of Joe Jackson but Kenny and the boys were worried about filling the venue. When they arrived the building was sold-out and Scottish flags were flying. When they performed “Sunshine On Leith” and “Letter From America” everyone in the audience sang every word and they knew right then that they had another market outside of home (the Birdland 002same thing soon happened in Australia and New Zealand and would ultimately happen in America with the release of the film “Benny And Joon”).  It was a fantastic debut and happened to fall on the lads 26th birthday, March 5, 1988. I brought cake.

The film is based on the Stephen Greenhorn written stage play. As he said on the stage of The Ryerson Theatre he was drinking a lot of whiskey one night and listening to “Letter From America” when he wrote “Proclaimers musical” on a napkin and then saw it the next day and started to form the narrative. Much to everyone’s surprise the play was a smash in Scotland four years later Greenhorn started writing the script for the film.

There was an after-party following the screening so earlier in the day I went over to the venue to say hello to Kenny, Craig and Charlie as I didn’t know what the rest of the night would bring and there might not be a chance for a quiet hello. After a brief chat  I walked over to the Ryerson Theatre for 5:30 as the guys were going to be walking the red carpet. When I arrived hundreds upon hundreds were lined up along Gerrard and way down Church. It was a very positive sign so I texted Kenny to let him know things were looking good. When the boys and key cast members arrived I tucked in to the posse and followed them down the carpet and into the back of the theatre.  There was a rousing ovation from the sold-out crowd when the guys were introduced and then it was show time. The premise of the musical it two men coming home to Edinburgh from the war in Afghanistan and the impact it would have on their lives as well as the lives of their friends and family, all set to the songs of The Proclaimers.  The two main leads are noted actors Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks (“Bubble” from Absolutely Fabulous) and they were supported by George MacKay, Antonio Thomas, Kevin Guthrie (all in attendance) and Freya Mavor.  Although very dark in places the film is uplifting and a joy to watch and should do great things internationally. Think “West Side Story” meets “Mamma Mia”. Director Dexter Fletcher did an amazing job and in many ways the film is a love letter to Edinburgh with the city never looking better. There was a five minute standing ovation at the end of the movie and the same response was repeated the next day.

At the after party Craig and Charlie performed “I’m On My Way”, “Letter From America”, “Sunshine On Leith” and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”. Revellers included OAZ’s Wendi-Jane Hayden. Raymond Perkins from Roots (who was at the first Canadian show back at the El Mocambo and helped organize the party), Murdoch Mysteries’ (and former Coronation Streeter) Tommy Craig, eek’s Erin Kinghorn (who has worked with the band for over a dozen years) and a host of other very happy party goers.  A fantastic day from beginning to end and I feel lucky to have been there at the beginning  of their recording career and honoured 25 years later to be sitting with them at the world premiere of the movie their music inspired.

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. It is the coolest rooftop in downtown Toronto and if you miss the BBQ head next store to Rock Lobster who are keeping late night old school Shanghai Cowgirl hours. As we are now officially into TIFF the Bovine will be serving up the cocktails until 4 AM and Rock Lobster will be open late during the festival.


Follow Cam @CC59 on Twitter.

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, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.


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