Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Cam Goes To College

Cam Profile Pic

As hard as it might be to believe I did attend college, and, studied Journalism. Sure, I only went for one year before I was hired by Quality Records, but, I was the first in my family to get any sort of post-secondary education. Luckily my children took University a little more seriously and the family now has a Dalhousie and a McGill graduate in their ranks.

When I attended the now-defunct Centennial College Warden campus I was also writing for the New Music Magazine. Because of the interviews, and concert tickets, I could get from that gig; I was also able to write the occasional piece for The Varsity at the University of Toronto and The Eye Opener at Ryerson. I had friends on both campuses and they were always looking for extra material.

Centennial College

At Centennial I wrote for The Asylum under the keen rock’n’roll eye of Dave Smeltzer. Local record shoppers may remember Dave from his days at The Record Peddler on Queen East. I found the February 15th edition of the newspaper and found these two stories.

Marshall Chapman – Tuffrock From A Jaded Virgin

chapman virgin

She stands damn near six feet tall in her knee high boots and could easily be passed off as David Bowie’s sister, or even Bowie himself. Her first album Me, I’m Feeling Free was almost all country-western while her second, and most recent album, Jaded Virgin, is all pop-rock. She is 29 years old and hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina and her name is Marshall Chapman.

marshall chapmanMarshall Chapman is one of my favourite female performers, the others being Genya Raven and Cindy Bullens. I’ve all but forgotten about Patti Smith, too arty, Linda Ronstadt, too boring, and Tanya Tucker, too frustrating.

The only time I ever saw Marshall perform live was on The Midnight Special (Honest to God, she was the only reason I watched). My missed sleep was worth it. Marshall commanded her fifteen minute segment like a real star. She rocked with the best of them, she turned ballads like an old ‘crooner, and kicked the living hell out of a guitar. My kind of woman.

“I expect to get blistered by the critics for Jaded Virgin. They’re gonna think I’m trying to intimidate men.” With a man’s first name and her roots firmly planted in southern rock and Elvis Presley it’s no wonder she fell into that old trap. But her albums don’t sound like masculine efforts. They are too sensitive. Take for example the song from Jaded Virgin “Why Can’t I Be Like Other Girls”.

…..I’d seen Elvis Presley….And I was runnin’ ‘round singing the blues/And I remember the words my mama said/when I asked her/for them blue suede shoes/she said no to me/Why can’t you be like other girls?

Marshall has gained a lot of respect in southern rock circles with her two albums and country star Waylon Jennings once said “Marshall’s a good ole’ boy,she can come on the bus.” That doesn’t sound like much, but to Marshall that probably means more than all the critics’ comments in the world.

Jaded Virgin is basically pop-oriented with a few rockers. “I Forgot To Put The Music On” and the “Island Song” as well as a few country inspired tunes like Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” (though it is nothing like the original) and “A Thank You Note” a tribute to Hank Williams that would even make Sneezy Waters proud. Even though Elvis is her biggest influence Marshall refuses to record any of his songs because she thinks it would be “in poor taste”.

Although Jaded Virgin was her first excursion into rock it proved to be a winner. With another strong album and a bit of national circulation via a tour, Marshall Chapman could be the next big thing.


The Ramones Take Linda Surfin’

Ramones on stage at the ElMo

Whenever the Ramones venture into town it’s more than just another night of rock’n’roll, it’s an event. This trip they came in as a last minute replacement for Tanya Tucker.

TicketStub014Figuring that not too many people knew they were playing I strolled up to the gold old El Mocambo at 8 o’clock for their 11 o’clock show. Suddenly I found myself at the end of a line-up that stretched up to College Street. I was there for an hour.

When I got inside and thawed out I realised that every possible seat was filled. The Ramones magic was in the air. I found a seat beside ace Toronto Sun writer Jonathan Gross and thawed out the best way I know how, beer. No fancy drinks for the Ramones, brewsky is fine.

Sooner than I expected opening act Willie English bounded on stage and played a very commendable set of cover material (most notably “Kicks” by Paul Revere & The Raiders and “London Girls” by The Vibrators) and some less notable original stuff.

At eleven the Ramones came on stage to a standing ovation. And I mean standing. On tables, chairs, and for those in the back, on each other’s Joe at the Elmoshoulders. After Dee Dee Ramone’s mandatory One, ta , tree, faw introduction the four lads from Queens assaulted our eardrums for over an hour. It was wonderful.

With their latest album Road To Ruin selling a quarter of a million copies worldwide it looks like the Ramones are here to stay. Contrary to popular belief the Ramones are a lot more than another punk band. They are a dance band, sorta like The Beach Boys fifteen years later in ripped jeans and leather coats. They have a great pop sensibility and their lyrics are intelligently stupid. Their new movie “Rock and Roll High School”, a full length feature film due to be released in April could start a whole new era in rock movies. Remember Annette Funicello?

The best line I could come up with to describe the Ramones is stolen from opening act Willie English who in turn stole it from The Animals, “Oh lord please don’t let them be misunderstood”.

Come have a beer and listen to Cam spin DBAWIS-worthy tunes every Wednesday at The Kensington Lodge, just around the corner from the good old El Mocambo.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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, and New Canadian Music.

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Cam Goes To College”

  1. VonRiesling Says:

    Excellent column. Thank you.

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