Cameron Carpenter: Past And Present Tens – RiFFing on Indie Week – Part One

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There was a point late Friday night (OK, Saturday morning) when I looked around Davy Love’s newest pub The Old Laurel on College Street (, saw the collection of talent around me, watched them all interacting, and it felt like the months of hard work had all been worth it. To my left were Canadian actors/writers Brandon Ludwig and Dave Roberts, James McNally film programmer from “Shorts That Are Not Pants” and “The Scruffy City Music & Film Festival”, Bloor Hot Docs Theatre manager Ron Koperdraad, Bellwoods Alan Snoddy, to my right RiFF co-programmer Christopher Cherry, former Smiths drummer and Indie Week keynote speaker Mike Joyce, “The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard” director Neil Norman, and “the smalls – forever is a long time” director John Kerr. It was an amazing cross-section of people from around the world and they were all enjoying each other’s company and talking up each other’s work.


Will a self-satisfied smile on my face I was taking it all in when I was handed a cell phone with original Seeds keyboardist Daryl Hooper on the other end of the line calling to say thanks for screening the movie. Let’s go back….

It was a long, great week. We kicked off everything on Tuesday night with a kick-off party at The Burroughes featuring live performances from Joni Fuller, Victoria + Jean, Tiny Danza and a DJ set by Mike Joyce. Late night things moved over to the Bovine where I saw The Almighty Trigger Happy’s Al Nolan awestruck upon meeting the aforementioned Mr. Joyce.

Neil Norman and Mike Joyce

Indie Week really got into gear on Wednesday as the film festival (RiFF) and the panels (Indie 101) started. During the day I was honoured to moderate a panel with Canadian music legend Bernie Finkelstein and award-winning journalist Nicholas Jennings.

Bernie Finkelstein Nicholas Jennings Indie Week 2015

I stressed during the panel that all the young bands playing and participating in the festival need to know those who paved the road for them and should know their music history. A great start would be by reading Bernie’s book “True North – A Life Inside the Music Business” and Nick’s “Before the Gold Rush: Flashbacks to the Dawn of the Canadian Sound”. They could also search out the two feature films we presented that night Amanda Macchia’s “Yorkville” and Joan Prowse’s “Buffy Sainte-Marie – A Multimedia Life”. After the screenings I stopped by The Rivoli to catch a band or two.

neil normanOn Thursday a lot of our film makers were arriving in town and there was a lot of glad handing at The Bond Place Hotel. Neil Norman, Seeds’ director, flew in from Los Angeles, Fran Strine, director of the upcoming feature “Hired Gun” also came up from California and David Hilbert and members of the band “Morning After Girls” arrived from New York. We hosted a few film panels during the day and then headed off to The Royal Cinema for screenings of the latest music video from Will Currie & The Country Fresh “No Nothing”, the short “Alone In North America” (a tour doc of life on the road with the Morning After Girls” and “Forced Perspective”, the story of Cleveland poster artist Derek Hess and his struggle with addiction and mental health issues. Out late night presentation was the new video from Toronto indie-darlings Ginger Ale and the Monowhales “Looking Simple” and then Roger King’s feature film about four famous disc jockeys “I Am What I Play”. After the screening we were joined for a Q+A with the legendary David Marsden and Roger King. After the screening we headed off for a well-earned pint at The Monarch Tavern where karaoke was in full-effect. With Neil Norman in-tow we headed off to the Bovine for a late-night set from The Luka State. When the nucleus of the band was known as The Targets, the Liverpool-based made quite an impression on Indie Week when they first came to the festival four years ago. Time has improved the band and they Crescendo Hollywoodabsolutely killed it on stage. Being a good host I then took Neil over to Cherry Colas so he could meet the lovely and talented Cherish Stevenson and hopefully catch-up with Bob Segarini. Neil’s father Gene ran the Crescendo Club in West Hollywood in the fifties and sixties and started the GNP Crescendo Records label back in 1954. It is the longest running independent record label still in existence. Alas Bob had called it an evening and the two men would not get a chance to meet.

The panels on Friday were quite a bit of fun. Neil, Roger King,  Steve Nash, Dave Roberts and Brandon Ludwig spoke to aspiring film makers at the DIY panel and then Dave and Brandon joined Kyle Carpenter, James McNally and Pasha Patriki for our first ever film pitch session. Film makers presented their pitches which were then critiqued by the industry experts. I moderated and I believe it was the first ever Indie 101 panel which featured a father and son.

The last panel of the day was with Jason Hook from Finger Finger Death Punch and “Hired Gun” director Fran Strine. The upcoming film is a look at everyone from Toronto native Jason, who played with Alice Cooper, to Kenny Aronoff, Phil X and Eric Singer. Best to let the trailer explain the premise of the film (which we will show in its entirety next year).

Here are some videos until we conclude Indie Week 2015 next week.

The Luka State – 30 Minute Break 

Victoria + Jean – Holly

Buffy Sainte-Marie – Universal Soldier

Five Finger Death Punch – Battle Born

Come request The Luka State on Wednesday night at The Kensington Lodge.


Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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

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