Cameron Carpenter – 10 CC – Once Bourbon, Once Scotch, Now Beer
Habits change as we get older. For years, and with thanks to Segarini, my drink of choice was Jack’n’Coke. No matter where I went with a bar it was what I ordered. After high school I rarely drink beer, and, unless it was a quart at The Gasworks, or a tray of the old 10 ouncers at The Alpine, a JD was the weapon of choice.
Through the years I have had a vodka phase, a single malt phase, a rusty nail phase (perhaps the finest cocktail ever invented) and now, economics playing a large part, I am pretty well a beer guy. I am not brand loyal and I seem to have a favourite at different bars. When I am at the BBC it’s a Tall Boy Canadian, around the corner at Castro’s a Stiegl is the brand of choice while trivia nights at the Gull & Firkin call for a Guinness. Downtown it is always a pint of 50 at The Shoe, a Pils at the Bovine, an Amsterdam Blonde at Rock Lobster and a Mill Street at The Riv. For some reason beer doesn’t resonate for me at Cherry Cola’s and my call there is usually Jack’n’Coke, or, as Alex and I now call them, “A Lemmy”.
Cam and Crew at Cherry’s
Over the course of many a year I have had ample opportunities to share a cocktail or two with an artists, label mates and industry friends. Here are a few of those anecdotes.
Lemmy was the one-man Rat Pack of rock’n’roll. Much like Frank, Sammy and Dino, Lemmy was rarely seen without his beloved Jack’n’Coke in his hand. I witnessed him more than once on his throne at the Rainbow playing video games, puffin’ a Marlie and magnificently holding court. We spent an hour one day at the Friar & Firkin playing NTN trivia (he was brilliant at it) and drinking Jack’s. The occasion was a MuchMusic interview which we moved from the station to the bar to avoid any issues of him having a drink inside the studio.
- Dave Matthews
Dave was one of my adopted artists when I moved to BMG. I didn’t really know that much about his music and I hadn’t seen him live when we first spent a day together doing promo, but by the end of a gruelling day of interviews I had a lot of respect for him. When we were done I offered to take him back to the hotel but, eyeing the Hard Rock Café he said let’s go for a drink. When he ordered us a couple of Jack on the rocks I knew he was my kind of guy.
I am not one for doing a lot of shots but my shot of choice has been Jager for many a year. Many local rockers would have had their first shot at the Bovine as they were the first bar in the country to serve the magical elixir but my first taste, as was Bovine owner’s Darryl Fine, was at the Scrap Bar in New York City. I imagine a few of them will be consumed next week as CMW kicks off in Toronto and many of my local haunts will be serving late
- Dave Grohl
Cam and Dave
Much like producer Garth Richardson, Dave’s tipple of choice is Crown Royal. There was always a lovely purple pouch or two when one visited their dressing room or hospitality area. Outside of a quick pre-show or post-show drink, I rarely spent much time over cocktails with Dave and the boys but there was one day that we started in Montreal and ended up at a Cheap Trick show in Toronto that was pretty epic, so much so that many years ago Dave mentioned it in a “Dewar’s Profile” if I am not mistaken.
Although Slash and I did have one infamous night that involved a little billiards, a little pinball and a lot of Jager, the story that comes to mind is buying a bottle of his Black Death Vodka (which he was somewhat involved with). As Berlin once said “Nobody Walks in L.A.”, but that memo never made it over the border. One rainy spring day I walked from the Sunset Marquis over to Tower Records and then across the street to the liquor store to buy a bottle of “Black Death”, which came in a commemorative wooden coffin. My attire consisted of a skull scarf, band tee, black shorts, Docs and my Ramones jacket. In one hand was the vodka and in the other were a cigarette and a few records from Towers. I heard honking behind me and then shouts of “Cam”. I turned around and it was former Toronto Sun rock scribe, and then L.A. resident, Jonathan Gross. He was laughing as he pulled up and said he knew it was me from the contents of my hands, my clothes and the fact that only a Canadian would walk in L.A.
- A Flock of Seagulls
They were the first band that I ever worked with who had a booze endorsement and wherever they went that was a plethora of Pernod waiting for them. I never really acquired a taste for the sticky liquor but it was palatable with a splash of 7-UP. My old pal Mick Score, singer for the Flock, will be in the area next month when he plays acoustic versions of his hits on a bill with Gord Deppe from The Spoons. The show is at Classic Bowl in Mississauga on May 8th. I may have to pop by for a drink.
The band was signed to RCA in New York and had a couple of hits with “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Miserable”. Now these boys had a Jager endorsement complete with custom guitar picks and logoed shot glasses. I still have a half a dozen in my shot glass collection.
- RCA New York
Whenever the International team of RCA gathered in New York it was inevitable that company Prez Bob Jamieson would gather the troops and march them over to famed NYC tequila bar El Teddy’s. Soon a tray of Patron would arrive and everyone would join in on a toast. Whether or not you liked tequila (and I don’t), it was mandatory to take and drain the shot. If anyone did not finish in one gulp another round would be ordered as a penalty and the procedure would continue until all shots were properly consumed.
- Lucy’s Retired Surf Bar
This was the home of the Canadian versus U.S.A. drinking challenge back at a long forgotten CMJ conference in New York. The funky dump was a favourite of Jeff Rogers and we somehow came up with the concept of a record company drinking challenge based on country or origin. I know the Canadian team included Jeff, band manager Keith Porteous and perhaps Graham Henderson. Our U.S. challengers included Chrysalis President Mike Bone, A&R legend Jeff Aldrich and assorted others. Much like Olympic hockey Canada easily walked away with the gold.
- Mike Campbell
Mike and Cam Before the Operation that Separated Them
Some of my favourite cocktails of all time have taken place in a garage in Halifax. It is an actual garage but, for those in the know, it is the infamous Tiki. Many a late night and early morning has been spent in its comfy interior with an Old Sam & coke in hand and ears pinned to a rare Faces bootleg. Next Saturday it is once again my honour to be involved in bringing that Tiki-vibe to Toronto as we present the annual Music Nova Scotia event. I hope to see a lot of you there.
Cam’s column appears every Thursday.
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Cameron 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.