CMW beergate

Venue claims strong Molson push kept it out of CMW

Don’t expect to find the Cameron House on next week’s Canadian Music Week schedule – the erstwhile festival fixture is taking a pass.

It seems Cameron co-owner Cindy Matthews dropped out after the festival informed her in December that her bar was expected to hawk only Molson labels over those five days.

This didn’t sit well with Mathews. “I don’t really care what they do with their sponsorship but I don’t think it’s fair to the [beer] companies that support us all year,” she says.

Discussions followed with Molson and CMW, and according to Matthews, one proposed compromise was to bring in “Molson girls” and beer tubs. She decided to pull from the festival when it went ahead and booked the Cameron House before any agreement was reached.

But CMW was strangely surprised to hear that the Cameron wasn’t participating when NOW reached president Neill Dixon in February. Dixon says he would have been happy to work with the Cameron house no matter what was being poured.

Well, there may have been a little coaxing: “We have sponsors and we like to see venues comply with that as best as they can,” says Dixon. Even so, he says, “Anything can be resolved.”

It certainly didn’t look that way to Matthews. “Never once was it ever said to me, ‘that’s okay if you don’t want to serve Molson products,'” she says. As proof she offers the email she received from CMW.

“Please be advised that Molson is a sponsor of Canadian Music Fest,” it begins. “As such, we need to ensure that ONLY Molson product be served at your venue during Canadian Music Fest.”

Not everyone in the music biz thinks this is inordinately pushy. According to Silver Dollar impresario Dan Burke, whose venue is part of CMW, “This kind of thing happens all the time,” he says.

And Burke welcomes the big brewery dollars. “Why not support Molson if Molson is supporting indie rock,” he suggests. “We certainly don’t have government grants.”

Besides, says Burke, “All the beer’s the goddamn same.”

Meanwhile, CMW has not had to drop any acts and the Cameron House has booked its own entertainment for the weekend. There will be no Molson available.[rssbreak]

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