Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s of Rock’n’Roll – Catching Some ZZZ’s

CamYes I was asleep at the wheel last week and could not get my column in by deadline. It is a very busy time of year and I really couldn’t come up with an appropriate Z-theme. It’s a bitch of a letter when it comes to rock’n’roll. I have been busy with the Alan Snoddy release party tonight at The Dakota, getting the wheels turning on the new Alert the Medic record and, most time consuming, making the final selections and announcements for the 2014 NXNE Film Festival. I don’t know what has happened over the past year but we have had very close to 500 submissions this year and it takes a lot of time, and patience, to sit through that many films. Perhaps it is due to the fact that we are opening up the festival to non-music films as the fest has become diversified in every aspect. Luckily they started to arrive as early as last September and I have pretty well stayed on top of it since then, but, once you get close to the submission deadline the films really start to pile up.

I am very pleased with the final selections and a press release should be coming out next week, and the news will be posted on It’s the 20th anniversary of the event and the 14th year of the film festival and everything is going to be a bit grander this year.

Purple RainOur partnership with The Blood Hot Docs Cinema now extends beyond the actual festival dates in June and we have been running a series called “This Film Should Be Played Loud”. This Friday night we will be screening the classicPurple Rainand things will kick off shortly after 8 PM with DJ Moe Berg and ice cold Steamwhistle tall boys for a mere five bucks. The crowds have loved it and hopefully we will keep it up all year long. Speaking of Hot Docs their annual internationally acclaimed festival runs in Toronto from April 24 thru May 4th. There is an amazing collection of documentaries this year including rock’n’roll films about Pulp and Alice Cooper. For the schedule check out

As I missed Z I am going to go by the numbers for this week’s selection of songs.

1999 – Prince

With the “Purple Rain” screening this Friday night Prince comes to top of mind. This was such an adventurous double-album and arguably his most complete work. A few years after the release of this album I was Motown Label Manager in Canada and they had signed Brown Mark for a solo record. We had a huge convention in Jamaica and he attended to preview his solo disc. It was pretty cool to be hanging out with the bassist from this landmark album and we had some late night fun riding around the resort in golf carts very late at night.

1984 – David Bowie

“Diamond Dogs” was a real transition album for Bowie. He had left the Spiders from Mars behind and his glam phase was just about over. Electronics were evolving in his sound and the roots for his Berlin trilogy had been planted.

2-4-6-8 Motorway – Tom Robinson Band

One of the great driving songs of all time. Tom came to prominence during the punk era, and, although not a punk, he was a provocateur. He was opening gay, and sang about it on “Glad To Be Gay”, very political and very outspoken. He was an early activist for Amnesty International and Rock Against Racism and penned the song “War Baby” about the division between East and West Germany.

45 – Elvis Costello

One of my fave Elvis songs from his album “When I Was Cruel”. This was the first album with The Imposters, who were still mostly The Replacements minus bassist Bruce Thomas. The only show I ever saw at The Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas was Elvis on this tour. It was a good night as I chugged my Jack’n’Coke before heading into the show I hit a slot jackpot of $1000.00 bucks. Paid for the trip. Thanks Elvis.

The 6-Teens – The Sweet

“Desolation Boulevard”, the 1974 album from The Sweet, was one of those key teenage albums for me. The band had moved from the bubble-gum sound of “Little Willy” and gotten tougher with the release of “Desolation Boulevard”. It would be the album that made them stars in North America with “Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox On The Run” leading the charge. This song was the quiet gem.

88 Lines About 44 Women – The Nails

I loved this song so much I gave my daughter her middle name (I really wanted it to be her first name) from the lyrics of this song – “Seattle was another girl who left her mark upon the map”. It’s a clever little song and yes there are 88 lines about 44 different women.

The 59’ Sound – The Gaslight Anthem

I haven’t heard too much about the band recently but absolutely loved this song. It looked like the one that might break them wide open but they still seem to be a few steps away. Being born in 1959 probably enhances the song for me.

1000 Miles From Graceland – Murder City Sparrows

This is one of the first songs I ever heard from the late great Edmonton band. Jay Sparrow is now working on a new solo record, guitarist Mike Nash has something new coming out in the next few months and Doc DeGroot is busy playing with the Edmonton band Owls By Nature. I really thought Murder City were poised for greatness but for whatever reasons they couldn’t keep it together and even with help from the likes of Gordie Johnson their full length debut album fell by the wayside.

1977 – The Clash

“No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones in 1977” screamed The Clash in this punk rock manifesto from their debut album. They said it and meant it and became one of the most important bands in rock’n’roll history.

25 0r 6 to 4 – Chicago

Hey, I was far from a Chicago fan growing up but this song will be special to me as it was the showcase for my son Kyle when he was the drummer for the Malvern Collegiate band. It was the first time I had seen him play drums on stage and it was a magic moment. I think my pal Drew Hester is now playing drums for Chicago and I got to know him when he played percussion in the extended acoustic version of the Foo Fighters.

Going from raking in shorts, to shovelling in a winter jacket has taken its toll on me this week. It is time for this never ending winter to come to an end so I can haul my ass up to the Bovine Tiki Bar to catch some rays.


Cam’s column appears every Wednesday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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Cam is very anxious to plant his butt on the roof of the Bovine and soak up a few rays. Soon.

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. There are heaters on the Bovine patio and great bands downstairs at the legendary rock bar. Fill up next store at The Rock Lobster and then get your rocks off at The Bovine. 

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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