Cameron Carpenter: Past and Present Tens – Indie Week

Cam Skull Ring Days

I have been going to conventions and conferences all of my life. I think the first one I attended was “3 Days in March” back in the late seventies. It was at the then new Harbour Castle Hotel and run by Walt Grealis and Stan Klees from music industry magazine RPM. It slowly morphed into “The Record Conference”, run by David Farrell and his team at The Record (another music industry trade paper), and that conference is now known as Canadian Music Week.



I have attended The Halifax Pop Explosion, The New Music Seminar and CMJ in New York, The Gavin Conference in San Francisco, the inaugural “Transmission” conference in Vancouver, MusicWest, the Grammy Awards, Juno Awards, East Coast Music Awards and the Western Canadian Music Awards. Record company conferences have taken me to London, Aspen, Phoenix, Jamaica, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Sonoma and probably a few I have forgotten. Back in the eighties and nineties most Canadian record labels would pack most of their staff into buses and send them for three or four days up to the Haliburton or Quebec for day-long meetings and night-long presentations of new bands. For the last four years I was involved in NXNE helping program their Film Festival and this year and I happy to be working with the team at Indie Week as we get ready to take over Toronto next week. Here are ten things to keep you busy.


1.  Tuesday October 13 – The opening night party opens up to the public around 8:30 PM at The Burroughes (Bathurst and Queen) and features performances from Joni Fuller, Indie Week Europe winners Victoria + Jean, former Canadian Indie Week winners Tiny Danza, and then, to end the evening, Mike Joyce from The Smiths will be spinning. I will have to see if Mike remembers me as he, along with fellow-Smith Andy Rourke, were members of one of the early Sinead O’Connor touring bands.


2.Tuesday October 13 – As the party winds down at The Burroughes the action will move across the street to the Bovine as they begin their first of six 4 AM last call late nights. I love the fact that Darryl has added a couple of pinball machines in the back room, and, weather permitting the roof-top Tiki Bar will be rockin’ late into the evening.


3. Wednesday October 14 – The first night of the Reel Indie Film Festival kicks off at The Royal Cinema. The opening night presentation is one long package which includes a music video from Victoria + Jean, the short doc “Bernie Finkelstein – Lucky Breaks”, the new documentary “Yorkville” and finally the older documentary “Buffy Sainte-Marie – A Mutlimedia Life”. The timing on the Buffy doc couldn’t be better as she just picked up the 2015 Polaris Prize (which she can rest beside her Oscar). A lot of the younger music audience might not be aware on how much Buffy has done for the Canadian music scene and what a trailblazer she was, and still is. Yorkville was the original Toronto indie scene and helped spawn the careers of Buffy, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Steppenwolf and dozens of others. Bernie Finkelstein was at the heart of Yorkville as a club owner and manager, and today he is still active in the business.


4.  Wednesday October 14 – Indie 101 begins at The Bond Place Hotel and runs through Friday. Check the schedule at for all the speakers, times and rooms. On the Wednesday afternoon there will be a special Indie 101 session with Bernie Finkelstein and noted Canadian author and rock historian Nicholas Jennings. They will be discussing the Yorkville era and talking about their respective books about the days “before the gold rush”.


5. Schmoozing – One of the things I learnt very early in my career is it is all about the schmooze. Find out where the people are you want to meet and go and introduce yourself. At Indie Week there will be ample opportunity. I would suggest the opening night party, at the hotel during Indie 101 (buy a panelist a Mill Street or a Jack Daniels and they will be your friend forever) and at The Mod Club Sunday October 18 during the band finals. Indie Week offers the best-judged band a trip to Manchester for Indie Week Europe.

Mod club

6. Band Discovery – Check out for the full schedule of local and international bands that will be performing over the course of five nights. I am excited to see England’s The Luka State who I fell in love with a few years back at Indie Week when they were called The Targets. One year Cool Planet was so excited by Ireland’s Walter Mitty & The Realists that we signed them to a management deal and released their record in North America. Every year I stumble upon a band or two that I have never heard of and become an instant fan. Running the Film Fest is going to take up a lot of my time at night this year but I can almost guarantee I will be in Cherry Cola’s or The Bovine late one night and totally smitten with a new artist.

Cherry Cola's

7.  Films, Films, Films! – Although an avid documentary watcher it has only been during the last four years that I have become a film programmer. I love going through the hundreds of submissions and then formulating a schedule that makes sense. This year I have had the pleasure of working with Christopher Cherry and I think we have a solid program. After our opening night gala on Wednesday the rest of the feature schedule includes a great documentary on rock poster artist Derek Hess (, a Cleveland artist whose name you may not recognize but you will know his work. Of course, like any good doc there is much much more to the story. Later that night we will screen film2“I Am What I Play” Roger King’s great film about the time when DJ’s really mattered (including our very own David Marsden. Friday night we will have outtakes from the coming soon feature “Hired Gun” including a Q+A with the director and musician Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch).  The late show Friday is the Canadian premiere of “The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard”, a fantastic look at the Sky Saxon led band who were one of the garage bands that inspired the likes of Iggy Pop (featured in the film). Saturday night were are showing “Piss Off – Winnipeg’s Early Punk Scene”, another in a great set of films which showcase the early roots of punk rock in Canada. We close the Reel Indie Film Festival with “the smalls – forever is a long time” and fascinating look at one of Canada’s greatest band who could sell out big theatres in Western Canada and then open for a much-lesser band in a Toronto bar.


8. More Films! – Along with our feature presentations we will be showing music videos and short films featuring Andy Kim, Beta Motion, Jack Garratt, Adventure Galley, Playing to Vapors. Morning after girls, Ginger Ale and the Mono Whales, The Cancer Bats and Will Currie & The Country French.


9. Keynote Address – Last year was an amazing chat with industry legend Nigel Grainge (he who signed everyone from Thin Lizzy and The Boomtown Rats to Sinead O’Connor and The Waterboys) and this year Mike Joyce (The Smiths) will be talking about his career at The Bond Place Hotel on October 15th at 4 PM with interviewer Doug Elliott from 94.9 FM.

Mike Joyce

10. For those of you who are about to partake in a long flight or are suffering from insomnia you can listen to the latest Apologue Podcast where I discuss my career with my old pal Simon Head.

That`s it for the next two weeks as I will be too busy next week to report in. Drop by Indie Week 2015 if you get a chance.

Come request the smalls at The Kensington Lodge some Wednesday night.


Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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

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