Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Conventional Beliefs (Part 2)

cam with hat

We left you last week at the lobby bar of the Sheraton with Bobby Curtola, Jay Sparrow and Greg Godovitz. As with most conventions the premium site for socializing is the lobby bar (and, in more recent years, the outdoor smoking area).

We were soon joined by Jim Campbell and Derek Ross from Slaight Music, both of whom I worked with in the past. Derek was the drummer for The Spoons, who we distributed on their Ready Records label when I was with Quality Records. Jim and I spent time together at BMG Music Canada and then had international dealings when Jim moved to New York to work with RCA Records.


The BMG Reunion

(Where’s Waldo…er…Cam?)

Greg_SimpsonA CMW is not complete until you run into staffers Greg Simpson and Gary Taylor, and both were spotted that afternoon. Gary and I go back to when he ran Gary Taylor`s Rock Room in Vancouver, which was one of the city’s most infamous live venues. I was a teenager, recently fired from Quality Records and road-managing Vera Cruz recording artists The Models, when I first set eyes on the club. Back in those days you would play three or four nights at the same club and perform four or five sets each evening. You could get your 10,000 hours in very quickly.

Gary_TaylorWe usually were put up at The Devonshire Hotel across the street from the club, and it was great to unpack for a few days and get off of the 1949 Western Flyer bus which was our usual road home. The added bonus of playing at Gary Taylor‘s was that while the main floor hosted touring bands, the basement was a strip club. It was a teenage boy’s fantasy gig.

On our second or third gig at the club we pulled up and noticed movie production trailers outside and when we went in we were amazed to find Paul Cook and Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols, Paul Simonon from The Clash, Fee Waybill and Vince Melnick from The Tubes, as well as a very young Diane Lane and Laura Dern shooting the underground cult classic “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains”. We pulled up beers and chairs in the corner on the club and settled in for an interesting afternoon. I have only seen the movie once, but loved it. It may be on Netflix now.


I first got to know Greg Simpson when he was the MD at FM 96 in London, Ontario. In the early eighties I remember coming to town with A Flock of Seagulls to record a live concert and Greg was one of the key players. We have been friends ever since.

For the last couple of years it seems that the Australians have taken over CMW, and this year was no different. Leaving the lobby bar we hooked-up with The Carleton in Halifax owner Mike Campbell and headed upstairs and outside for a reception the Australian Music Industry was hosting. Waterfalls and wine was a nice distraction. With Jeff Butler now in tow,  the four of us heading to one of my favourite bar/restaurants in Toronto, Betty’s.


With a fantastic back patio, quality food and exquisitely poured Guinness, it was the perfect routing spot on our way over to Boots N’ Bourbon. The headliner that night was The Road Hammers and the Jason McCoy-led rockers held nothing back.


There is a weird feeling when you get out of the Queen West strip during the conference (Boots is a Queen Street East bar) and after the show we headed back to the welcoming confines of The Horseshoe and the sounds of Monster Truck. After an early morning nightcap at Cherry Cola’s it was time to head home.


Saturday was my big day at CMW with our band Bellwoods performing at The Horseshoe as well as helping out with the annual Music Nova Scotia Tiki party AB The Rivoli. First off we headed to the rooftop Tiki Bar at The Bovine for an afternoon party hosted by AB Co. (Audio Blood) and my friend Adam Lewis’ US promotion company Planetary. A couple of people had recommended that I see Alberta band Scenic Route To Alaska but I’m glad I got there in time to see Australia’s The Love Junkies. The three-piece managed to blow up the PA with their Sub Pop-era rock. Looks like grunge may be back.

scenic route

Scenic Route to Alaska

Scenic Route lived up to all of the hype and I actually knew one of the guys when he played in Owls By Nature (another Alberta band well worth checking aussie bbqout). We headed over to the Aussie BBQ at The Horseshoe, but, as they had so many different showcases going on this year, the numbers weren’t as high as in previous years. With Music Newfoundland Labrador Executive Director Bonnie Fedrau acting as an ambassador we met the band Everglow and soon they were in music and touring conversations with Scenic Route to Alaska. Put a bunch of like-minded musicians in the same bar and they can talk for hours about their touring experiences in Canada. These are the type of spontaneous meetings which can be the most satisfying at a conference, when new friends and connections are made.

None of us are quite sure how many Tiki parties we have presented with host Mike Campbell and the fine team at Music Nova Scotia. I have nine laminates from parties past but we seem to think it was the 12th party. It was our first without the help of Stuart Jolliffe from the Delta Hotels in Halifax (due to changes in the ownership of the properties) and he was very much missed, but, the show must go on.

Stuart Cam Mike

Stuart Cam and Mike

Considering all of the performers are from the province of Nova Scotia only, it is pretty impressive to look at some of the acts that have graced the stage in past years; Joel Plaskett (both solo and with The Emergency), Jill Barber, Matt Mays and El Torpedo, Jay Smith, Adam Baldwin, Gloryhound, The Trews, Jenn Grant, Carmen Townsend, Rich Aucoin, The Stanfields, Ben Caplan, Mike O’Neill, Wintersleep, Steve Poltz, Old Man Luedecke, Slowcoaster, Tom Fun Orchestra and dozens of others.

cam with gloryhound

Cam with Gloryhound

The premise, as always, was mingle hour, great seafood (this year provided by Richard Julien from “Chef Live”), short acoustic sets, doors open to the public at 9 PM and then full out band performances.

This year we were treated to the sounds of Ian Janes, Alana Yorke, Don Brownrigg, Gianna Lauren, Paper Beat Scissors, Gabrielle Papilon, Port Cities, Vogue Dots, 2015 ECMA “Album of the Year” winners In-Flight Safety, the new-improved four piece Like A Motorcycle and finally The Brood. Fantastic performances all around and a few of these new artists, as happens every year, will break away from the pack. The track record is outstanding.

The Trews – Past Performers at the Tiki Lounge….

Due to my commitment to Music Nova Scotia I was unable to attend the remembrance for Kevin Walters at the Horseshoe (including a performance from The Watchmen) but I did manage to dart over to see the expanded version of Bellwoods perform a great set of new and old material.

Over the course of the last couple years it seems the last show I see is the 2 AM Horseshoe show. For a couple of years this slot belonged to Gloryhound and for the last two years Australia’s The Lazys have taken over. One of the greatest live rock bands on the planet and a perfect finish to another CMW.

The Lazys – Shake it Like You Mean it….

Drop by The Kensington Lodge on Wednesday nights and listen to me spin some tunes. Come on by before or after a show at  any of the fine clubs in the Kensington area. 


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 – Conventional Beliefs (Part 2)”

  1. greg simpson Says:

    Thanks for the acknowledgement Cam…like me you are a survivor, though my birth certificate says I’ve survived somewhat longer…one of these days I’ll stop and let you catch up, though, to be honest, you may have passed me already.

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