Cameron Carpenter – Past & Present Tens – Juno Where You’re Going?


Cam Profile Pic

It was the annual get together of the old guard and the young guns as the movers and shakers of the music biz converged on the Phoenix Tuesday morning to hear the announcement for the 45th Juno Awards. It is always a fun morning and I look more forward to seeing old friends than hearing who the most recent nominees are. Most nominees will be forgotten in a couple of years, but the collection of people in the room has had a profound influence on my life and many have been good friends for almost forty years.

Yvonne MatsellAs has been the case for the last five years or so I meet the “Queen of Everything” NXNE co-founder Yvonne Matsell in the Beach and we head down to the press conference together. This gives us about 20 minutes to catch-up on each other’s lives (our now married – not to each other – children – played T-Ball together when they were both under 10) and what is happening in the business. Much like the awards show itself the press conference moves from location to location every year and Tuesday’s event was held at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Of course the Phoenix, turning 25 this year after a short seven year history as The Diamond Club, has played a big part in my life. I had my 25th birthday party there during the club’s inaugural year and, over the course of the last 30 years, have seen hundreds of shows at the Sherbourne Street club.

Lisa ZbitnewMy former BMG President Lisa Zbitnew has taken over the venue and it quickly turning it back into one of my favourite Toronto clubs.  On the walk to The Phoenix, parking was at a premium, Yvonne and I were joined by long-time entertainment (and sometimes travel) writer Sun Media’s Jane Stevenson. It was great to have a quick conversation with her and not to be under the publicity pressure of making a pitch for one of the artists I represent. Before we reached the front door we met up with former Music Ontario chief, and now Canadian Music Week VP, Rick Fenton, as well as Bell Media President of Entertainment Randy Lennox. Now Randy and I spent many a year together back at MCA Records and this was his first Juno event where he was on the other side of the table. I wrote about Randy’s MCA/Universal career last August, which you can read HERE.

Ralph-JamesThe first goal of the morning was to find the coffee and snacks and I soon spotted United Talent Agency CEO (so odd to call it UTA and not “The Agency”) Ralph James by the coffee pot. As opposed to a long-winded series of impending emails, we had a quick chat and sorted out a game plan we needed to work on. There is something to be said about old school face-to-face conversation that cannot be duplicated by text, voice mail or email.

At 11 PM sharp we converged on the main theatre and the proceedings began. For the second year CARAS President Allan Reid hosted the event. When I was A&R at MCA Allan was A&R at A&M Records and we spent a lot of time together in clubs all over Toronto and across the country. It is great to have a rock’n’roll brother running CARAS and so far he has been doing a great job. With all of the politics involved it can be a thankless job but Allan has handled it incredibly well. On stage you could hear the confidence in his presentation and I think he was well aware that this year`s show, starring Canadian artists who have topped the charts around the world, was going to be the best ever.

The announcements were made in two very quick video presentations and between the two we were entertained by live performances by Calgary hip-hop artist Transit and young Warner Music Canada (and double Juno nominee) artist Scott Helman.

Here’s the full list of 2016 Juno Nominees

I ran into the Maple Core/Fontana North team of Iain Taylor, Tony Tarleton and Andy Hawke, who I have worked with in various capacities over the years, and they tipped Steve Kaneme to the about to be announced signing of a band that I adore (and have written about at DBAWIS). I had a nice chat with Warner Music Canada President Steve Kane (who once worked in the MCA offices when he was with IRS Records) and Warner Music VP Steve Coady (who I remember as a promo rep for A&M Records – as well as the drummer for East coast band The Trees). Coady, along with half of the room, were going to see Bruce Springsteen later that night.

Rosalie TremblayOn the way out of the conference we were each given a double A-side 45 with “Stand Tall” by Burton Cummings on one side and “Rosalie” by Bob Seger on the other. The youngsters might have been confused but us dinosaurs knew that it was the Juno’s 45th anniversary (45 rpm), Burton was going into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and Seger wrote the song about  Rosalie Trombley,  the legendary program director of CKLW in Windsor, this year’s winner of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.

This year the Juno Awards will be held in Calgary from March 28th to April 3rd with the awards show live on CTV on the Sunday night.

Here are ten of the nominated artists:

Diemonds –  (Heavy Metal Album of the Year)

One of the hardest working and authentic rock’n’roll bands in this country. They remind me of the good old days back at Rock’n’Roll Heaven.

The Elwins – (Breakthrough Group of the Year)

Great pop band who make fantastic creative videos.

Buffy Sainte-Marie – (Songwriter of the Year)

Honoured to have worked with Buffy (and producer Chris Birkett) back in the Chrysalis days. Hot off the heels of her 2015 Polaris Music Prize.

Joel Plaskett – (Alternative Album of the Year)

One of Canada’s greatest musical treasures.

Death From Above 1979 – (Rock Album of the Year)

A great return to form for Jesse and Sebastein.  I am pumped that they are going to tour across Canada with The Eagles of Death Metal.

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah (Rap Recording of the Year)

This announcement brought the biggest cheers at the press conference. They are in deep against Drake but this one could be an upset.

Kalle Matson – (Video of the Year)

One of the most talked about videos of 2015 and a probable short list for the 2016 Prism Prize.

Abel Tesfraye – (Songwriter of the Year)

If you get nominated for an Oscar chances are you will get a Juno nomination as well. Abel is better known as The Weeknd.

Viet Cong – (Alternative Album of the Year)

Maybe they aren’t going to change their name after all. Whatever you call them, they rock.

The Sheepdogs – (Rock Album of the Year)

Our very own Rolling Stone cover band.

Good luck to all.


This Week….

lou dawgs

Indie Week are doing a couple of cool things every week at Lou Dawgs (76 Gerrard Street East – At Church). On Thursday night there are free performances with singer-songwriters and small bands. Tonight it is Scott Moffatt, Blair Packham and Patrick Maloney. Coming up on Thursday February 25th are Stella Panacci and Tringa Rexhepi. The Indie Week crew is always there and if you are interested in performing or just want to talk shop and have a friendly brew and a bit of BBQ drop on by. This Sunday, and every Sunday, it is “Nashville Nights” with Charlie McKittrick on the 7th and 21st and the young phenom Joshua David on the 14th and 28th. With the NFL season finishing this weekend your Sunday nights are free for another six months.



Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59, Instagram @Cambo1959 and Spotify @Cambo59

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7Cameron 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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