Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – D is for I Am The DJ

CamAs long as I can remember I have always been the DJ. I’m sure it started sometime in the late sixties as I tried to play “Gitarzan” or “A Boy Named Sue” on my sister’s turntable. In high school I started to spin records in the morning over the P.A. and introduced Malvern Collegiate to the likes of Mott the Hoople and Sparks. Between writing reviews in the high school paper and spinning records in the morning I was able to convince a few labels, as well as the owners of Records On Wheels, to give me free promo copies of new records.

At high school parties I was always the guy who brought records to be played much to the chagrin of most of the party goers. Most of them were quite happy listening to “Band On The Run” but I felt it was my duty to introduce them to Be-Bop Deluxe. At times I was very unpopular at these events but few remembered I was the one who subjected them to the first Queen album years before they played “Bohemian Rhapsody” to death three grades later.

September-26-2008-Ryerson-Student-Learning-Centre-siteSomehow I got a part time job spinning at the new wave club “Nuts ‘n Bolts” which was located in the heart of The Ryerson Campus (put the Sam The Record Man sign back up as you promised!). It was a cool place and was still popular with the underground kids when I worked there. New wave meant a lot more to them  than the first Cars record.  It was two turntables and a microphone although the only words I ever spoke over the PA were “last call”. For a little while in my early twenties I would spin the occasional birthday party or special event but this involved lugging around a lot of records and dismantling my home stereo so the novelty soon wore off. I also never liked taking requests. Not a good thing for a DJ.

mstrkrft-tattooWhen our company was booking the Tattoo Rock Parlour I got to spin a few nights after shows but it was a whole new world with iPods and CD’s. I never felt right mixing from a computer and soon worked out a pretty decent system with two iPods packed with playlists and some CD’s to play in a pinch when I was looking for a certain song.

H and A's CakeLast weekend our good friends Alex Williams and Heather Duncan were married at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club. They wanted to make everything official but it was more of a party and celebration of friends than your standard wedding.  Old habits die hard and I volunteered to do the music. Outside of the intro music and the first dance there was no hard format and I knew that we could build the entire set list on an iPod and plug and play through the massive new sound system at the BBC. For the last two months we built the set knowing that the crowd would range in age from late teens to mid-eighties. We poured over fave songs of Heather And Alex’s and put together a damn fine six hour mix. Earlier this summer when testing out an outdoor system I played them “Let’s Get Married” by The Proclaimers and Heather fell in love with it and asked me to send her the lyrics so she could check to see if they were appropriate. They were.  Even more appropriately Alex would be sporting a kilt for the service and Heather was being piped in. We started with “When Will You Be Married” from The Waterboys and segued to “Let’s Get Married” from The Proclaimers. Heather was then piped down the aisle and the short service commenced. In not keeping with tradition once the nuptials were performed the happy couple immediately had their first dance to “You’re My World” by Sidney Devine. After that the bar opened and the party started. Knowing that everyone would want to have a drink or two before the dancing started I kept things breezy for the first 30 minutes or so with a mix of happy oldies and a couple of new songs.  The Turtles and The Beatles battled U2 and The Mowglis. To get the dancing started it was Grand Funk and Van Morrison sharing a set with the likes of Billy Idol. To keep the older set happy Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller mixed with Joe Jackson, however, a lot of the younger folks enjoyed cutting a rug to the “Swingers” styled set. As the day progressed we went from guilty pleasures, Meatloaf, Bay City Rollers and Shocking Blue, and then moved the clock forward with Robin Thicke, Daft Punk and Bruno Mars. Unfortunately most of the folks had moved to the front bar by the time the set closed with “Beat It” and Tones on Tails “Go”. We enjoyed the humour. It was a great day with great friends and I was happy to play the soundtrack of their lives.

PolarisWhen my pal Steve Jordan started the Polaris Music Prize to celebrate the best Canadian album of the year his original intention was to get people talking about Canadian music. Over the course of the last seven years he has accomplished just that. Every year there is debate and controversy and this year was no different. Montreal’s “Godspeed You! Black Emperor!” took home the prize (and the $30,000.00) for their album “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend”. They refused to attend the gala and the next morning released this statement:


Godspeedhello kanada.
hello kanadian music-writers.

thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.

and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard fucking gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?

so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.

3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe:

-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.

-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.

-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.

these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.

give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.

us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…

amen and amen.

apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is fucked,
godspeed you! black emperor

Now in all honesty during their two decade career I can’t say I know very much about them or their music. I have listened to a couple of songs but have never seen them in concert or own any of their records. What little I heard was not enough to ever get me excited enough to listen to more. What they did after the Polaris was the Canadian equivalent of a Miley Cyrus twerk. They had the whole country talking about the artist and not the music. I find the controversy very interesting and there are some great articles, both pro and con, being written from coast to coast. If you have a few minutes these stories will shed some light on the incident.

David Farrell “New Canadian Music”


Radio Free Canuckistan

Joshua Ostroff – Huffington Post

Liisa Ladoucuer –

My take is a yellow card for GYBT.

Here are some DJ inspired songs to get back to our original theme, led off by David Bowie. Can’t wait to see his exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario which officially opened on Wednesday. Details can be found at

DJ – David Bowie

3 MC’s & 1 DJ – Beastie Boys

Great DJ – Ting Tings

God Is A DJ – Pink

Hey Mr. DJ – Van Morrison

Editors Note: There is no video of this song anywhere…and I mean ANYWHERE. So, instead, here is a picture of a man actually jockeying a disc.

a DJ

Rollover DJ – Jet

My Favourite DJ – The Headboys

Last Night A DJ Saved my Life – Indeep

Play That Beat Mr. DJ – G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid

The Last DJ – Tom Petty

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 the leaves are starting to turn, and summer is officially in the books for 2013, time is running out for you to enjoy the rock’n’est patio in the city.


Follow Cam @CC59 on Twitter.

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


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