This week I commence a four week stint at The Cameron House in Toronto.
Every Tuesday in March from 6-8pm,  I’ll be setting up shop to play some tunes for the post-work, mid-week roots music enthusiasts shuffling through Toronto’s Queen West district.

The artistic action has moved around a bit as the area has become gentrified over the years. The artists have moved a little north to Dundas and Ossington or further west down Queen to find affordable housing. You guessed it – these minor changes create cultural seeds which spring into little pockets of artistic hubs. Eventually, a ‘scene’ develops and before you know it, artists start to gravitate to the area as it’s usually close to where they’re living at that time. The writer tells the dancer who informs the singer who parties with the painter who works part-time with the waitress who doubles as a poet and so on. Suddenly everyone is meeting in this hub. Then the ideas flow so freely that anything seems possible through art. The ‘late-night troubadours of truth’ plod through questions and answers pushing limits until the artistic seeds eventually sprout. (I know, I know…tell me something I DON’T know Aymar! Ok then…Let me continue).

Suddenly, the masses want to come and see what all of the fuss is about. The kids from the suburbs arrive by the cab-load to sneak a peek at the newest – Latest and Greatest – and when this happens, you know scene is on its way out. It happened with the Beats in Greenwhich Village who evenutally found themselves in Haight-Ashbury who ultimately found themselves dispersing to parts unknown. Some moved to the burbs…some carried the torch forward. Toronto’s Yorkville? Enough said! Something tells me the artists will soon be living communally again on real land (far away) – but I’m sure that too will be sniffed out by the one-percenters and their pesky little children. Oh…I digress – where were we? Oh yeah – The Cameron House. For some unknown reason, The Cameron House has stood fast against these changes. It still offers the purity of the past without becoming a parody of its former self. It’s not a museum – it’s still authentic.

About ten years ago I used to frequent the Cameron on Saturday afternoons to catch The Cameron Family Singers perform old cowboy classics done in a unique ‘ensemble’ kind of way. At the time, I’d written a batch of novelty songs for which I was trying to find a sound. One day, while listening to Kevin, Jack, Cindy, Tony, Tom, Rod and the gang perform some ‘Pioneer’ songs – it hit me! This old-time sound put to my contemporary novelty songs would be the perfect fit. I approached the band and with a few quick rehearsals and one live-from-the-floor recording session, we recorded my second CD – Cashing in on Peace. We added a few banjos and penny-whistles after the fact, but I am forever indebted to the contingent of the Cameron Family Singers who helped out.

Yup, the Cameron is still going strong. It seems to adapt without losing its identity. I don’t need to remind you of the long list of bands to have graced that small stage. The more things change –the more they stay the same. Below I’ve attached a link to a free mp3 recording of one of those songs written and recorded back then. The recording truly was a one-off and as such the vocals were low in the mix but you’ll get the idea.  I’ve attached the lyrics for you below if you’re so inclined to read along as you listen.  Just as an fyi – the third verse in this song is reserved for YOU! The first two verses are about ‘them’…lol.

Oh and a few things you can do to pay it forward:

The next time you’re at a Mad Bastards concert, just sit quietly and listen.
Sign your donor card.
Buy Liberty Boots.

Ciao!

Free mp3 of song here: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/1402525040/1c6019ab4e3a5fa7ac6710f1e2398de8

FROM HIPPIE TO YUPPIE (in 30 Years Flat)

Well this one goes out to all you hippies of 1968
Who preached of peace and love and stop the war and forget hate
It seems you’ve traded in your Microbus for a brand new shiny SAAB
And now you’re all just yuppies in the burbs working on your tennis lob
And I hear you say….

Times have changed so much
Kids are strange these days
They’re so out of touch
They’re in some purple haze|
At least we respected our folks
We always knew the power of the pen
Sure we grew our hair and did some tokes
Well that’s just the way it was back then

From tie-dyed shirts and mini-skirts and a passion for Indian rugs
You traveled around the world just to find yourself
getting high on manufactured drugs
A lifetime later it’s 9 to 5 with 1.3 mouths to feed
The red don’t bleed and your kids concede that you’re a product of capitalistic greed
And still I hear you say…

Times have changed so much
Kids are strange these days
They’re so out of touch
They’re in some purple haze
At least we respected our folks
We always knew the power of the pen||
Sure we grew our hair and did some tokes
Well that’s just the way it was back then

This verse goes out to the hippies still dying for the cause
I’m sure you’d roll a nice number for Levi Straus if he could outfit Hugo Boss
Floyd won’t fill the void and you’re sad the Jerry’s joined the dead
It’s time to breeze to the keys with your shaker of salt and party with the parrot heads
and still I hear you say….

Times ain’t changed that much
Kids are great these days
Hell they’re so in touch
They all know purple haze
And we’re all respecting our folks
We all know the power of the pen
Sure we grow our hair and do some tokes
Just like the way it was back then

This one goes out to the hippies of 1968
Who preached of peace and love and stop the war and forget
Haight-Ashbury….cause it’s gone…it’s over man

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