Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Conventional Beliefs – Part One

Cam young

Well another Canadian Music Week is under my belt, or, elastic waist-band pants. I believe it was my 33rd. I believe it was their 33rd. Prior to being called CMW it was known as “The Record Conference”, and before that there was an annual event called “Three Days In March”. It’s hard to explain (and often remember) what exactly happens at a music industry conference and the more that you attend the wider your reach is and the more friends, acquaintances, former workers and bartenders you know.



Three Days In March was run by Walt Grealis and Stan Klees who are best remembered as the publishers of the industry magazine RPM. It was a weekly magazine that contained the Canadian charts, news stories, industry hires and a gossip column that only used initials but having your initials in that column could send the land-lines buzzing (we didn’t have cell phones then – hell we didn’t have fax machines or computers either and international record deals were often confirmed on a telex machine). I remember the first time I was in RPM when they mentioned I had joined Quality Records in the publicity department. Even better was the first time my picture appeared along with one of the bands I was hired to publicize.

Cam at Quality

Cam and the Fat Boys

Compared to CMW or NXNE, Three Days was a small conference and pretty well exclusive to the record industry. Each label had a suite and our job was to get radio and retail into those rooms to schmooze them and play our latest releases. MCA used to run a fun little casino where you won “beaver bucks” and the more you acquiredthe better pieces of swag you could buy. Beaver bucks were so-called because it was a Canadian conference, they only bought swag. I Tommy Stewartknow that I was at the conference in 1978 at The Hotel Toronto as I still have my invite to the RCA Records suite as it was autographed on the back by Trooper drummer Tommy Stewart. I was at Quality, Trooper was on MCA and we probably met in the RCA suite. I would later work for MCA and RCA, although RCA was a part of BMG by that time. I have not seen Tommy since but apparently we had fun as the autograph reads: “Cam! Heres to gettin’ pissed again. Boogie till ya puke. Tommy Stewart”. I think we hung out for two of the three days in March. I remember Segarini from these days as well as we often suite-hopped as a party going brace.

Neil DixonDavid Farrell, publisher of the early 1980’s industry magazine “The Record”, started “The Record Conference” which evolved into a much larger animal and brought in outside panelists and speakers, international labels and more and more attendees. Soon David partnered with former record executive Neil Dixon and Canadian Music Week was born (David would ultimately sell his portion of the conference and leave it all in Neill’s hands).

I have attended the conference in many capacities; as a publicist and label manager at Quality Records,representing Motown and Chrysalis Records, as well as Director of A&R, at MCA Music Canada, as Artist Relations for BMG, as International at Sony, as an indie publicist and manager, as a journalist, as a hired mentor, and, as part of the initial XM Satellite radio team. Each year brings new challenges and responsibilities.

This year the conference was spread over 10 days and the music started on Friday May 1st. Most of the early shows were big name acts and not the typical Tiki Loungesix bands per venue on the hour (those would really kick in on the following Wednesday). The majority of the industry comes into town on the Wednesday to attend the myriad of award shows and take part in internal meetings and bonding sessions. I did not have a conference badge this year but had acquired a wrist band. The band we manage, Bellwoods, would be playing The Agency Showcase on Saturday May 9th at 9 PM, and, as always I would be helping out my pals at Music Nova Scotia with their annual Tiki Lounge at The Rivoli on Saturday March 9th. These were my two priorities for CMW 2015 and pretty well everything else would happen on the fly.

On Wednesday evening after my DJ gig at The Kensington Lodge I wandered down the street to the Horseshoe Tavern, as I knew they had a 4 AM last call and maybe Swervedriver would still be on stage. The show was over but there was a happy congregation heading over to the Tiki Bar on the roof of The Bovine. Seemed like a plan. Immediately upon hitting the roof I ran into The Trews, members of The RoadHammers, Halifax owner of The Seahorse/Marquee Victor Syperek (also Dad to Jack of The Trews) and Vancouver-based producer Gggarth Richardson.


Party On, Garth

Local patio noise bylaws soon sent us on our merry way downstairs to The Bovine where Black Rhino Riot were tearing it up, and, much to my delight, two new pinball machines had been installed in the back bar. You can take all of Darylyour Playstation and Nintendo games and burn them in a 1965-era Beatles bible-belt bonfire as far as I am concerned, give me a pinball table any day of the week. With Bon Scott-era AC/DC blasting in the backroom I am happy to report I won the Halifax-Toronto challenge bettering the scores of the aforementioned Mr. Syperek and Bovine owner Darryl Fine.

jay-sparrowThe epicentre this year was The Sheraton Hotel on Queen Street West. Thursday is my annual lobby bar day where I hope to see as many out of towners as possible. I promised my old friend Jay Sparrow that I would introduce him to as many people as possible as he is about to launch his indy music discovery app “The Record Mob”.  Jay had found out earlier in the week that he had been nominated for Country Album of the Year at the West Coast Music Awards, a well-earned nomination. The first person we saw was Gggarth quickly followed by The Pursuit Of Happiness mainman (and Chicago Black Hawks Curtolafanatic) Moe Berg. We were soon joined by recent Toronto returnee Greg Godovitz and the conversation soon turned to gardening. If you had told 18 year old methat Greg and I would be having this type of discussion close to 40 years later and I would have told you you were crazy. I spotted rock’n’roll legend Bobby Curtola entering the bar and an excited Godovitz ran over to say hello. Unbeknownst to Greg, Jay’s father was once Bobby’s musical director and Jay had grown up on the road. A happy reunion soon followed.

Next week – CMW Part Two 


I am hoping some of my out of town friends will drop by The Kensington Lodge next Wednesday night. I will pour them a beer and spin them a tune. Come on by before or after a show at The Supermarket or any other of the fine clubs in the Kensington area.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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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, and New Canadian Music.

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Conventional Beliefs – Part One”


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    along with their masonic pals in the Ontario Provincial Police and allied
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