Pat Blythe – Toronto’s Mixed Grill – A Scrapbook

 

PBlythe

It’s 4am on Sunday morning, March 8, and I’ve just arrived home from a long day and night of music hopping….and the damn Queen streetcar short-turned again….and the clocks went forward one hour (OMG it’s really 5am!!)….and I’ve decided to change my tune (so to speak)….and tell you about my “day in the life of….”  rather than have our esteemed editor post the article I’ve already filed.

It began with a comfortable jazzy afternoon followed by two evening birthday parties — pop/rock/alternative/K-Pop — and finishing off with late night tapas and Latin music….this is my Mixed Grill, Toronto style.

I doubt I will finish this tonight as it would probably turn out more like blather what with the fading reminder of the G&Ts in my system, but here’s a start.

Nope, my start stopped….that’s as far as I get….I’m off to bed.

March 9 onward….

My first locale of the day is…

The Pilot

 

…and Saturday afternoon Jazz. Bearing down at full speed (I was late) on Bloor at 3:30 in the afternoon — why do people always have to walk five abreast at the speed of a snail when you’re in a rush — heading straight for The Pilot on Cumberland for a relaxed jazzy afternoon. I find the place jammed after puffing my way up what seemed endless flights of stairs to standing room only. (I counted six flights on my way down but ended up in the basement so I overshot) It appears Saturday jazz is very popular here.

I met up with my friend Janet and her two friends Jane and Karen. We enjoyed an afternoon of great conversation, wine, G&T, nachos (thank you Jane) and of course, jazz….Jake Koffman to be precise. I’ll give you one guess who his famous relation is.

I haven’t been to The Pilot in at least 20 years (probably more). It was once a local hangout, having worked just around the corner at 80 Bloor St. West for seven years at a large international PR firm. There were a number of liquid dinners that took place at The Pilot, one of the many bars we frequented after a long day putting out somebody’s fire. (The liquid lunches were at Bemelmans across the street from the office. Unfortunately, now long gone but very fondly remembered — Bemmy’s, not the lunches. Ahhhh, if only walls could talk)

Bemmy's

Bemelmans in its heyday – 83 Bloor St.W.

As for The Pilot, times have changed. All spruced up now, kids are running all over the place, jazz on Saturday’s, good food and a new patio, aptly named the Flight Deck, is opening this summer

I say, there’s nothing better than great sax and a stand-up bass.

I’ll be back.

The Pilot sign

The Pilot circa 2014

Some very interesting tidbits on The Pilot’s relationship with the arts and entertainment biz….

The Pilot Old

“The Pilot Grill” in 1944 at its original location at 800 Yonge Street, just north of Bloor.

” 2014 marked the 70th birthday of The Pilot Tavern… The name of the bar was a tip of the cap to the heroic RCAF flyers of World War II.

During the Yonge Street era, The Pilot was a clubhouse, meeting place and sacred temple to artists, musicians and writers. The Spadina Eleven hung out here, Austin Clarke was inspired, Julie Christie awed. In those days The Pilot often cashed the artists’ cheques from the nearby Issacs Gallery and the Carmen Lamanna Gallery just up the street. Lightfoot performed and Dylan met Robbie Robertson to recruit the Hawks as his back-up band here too.

In 1972 The Pilot moved to its current location at 22 Cumberland Street. Legend has it that a group of Pilot regulars physically carried the original bar around the corner to its new home. A sense of history and occasion was carried over too.”

Second stop and first birthday bash….

Slave Ticket Front

SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE

From The Pilot I “subwayed” down to the Hard Rock Café at Dundas Square. It’s David Marsden’s annual birthday fete and this year’s line-up was Xprime, Marcus Kihn and SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE. Ran into some old friends, made some new ones and my Saturday night date, and favourite IT guy, Jonathan joined us. Marsden came around to the table to say hello, pink feather boa in hand. Snaps were taken, introductions made and the boa ended up around Jonathan’s neck. What fun!

David Marsden and Jonathan Barrie

David Marsden & Jonathan Barrie

                                                              Photo by Marlene

Three bands on tap for the Marsden extravaganza….

Slave TicketFirst up, Xprime

Xprime Squarejump

Four young, high-energy, tremendously talented lads from Niagara Falls making waves in the music scene, who love what they do, take joy in their performances and get audiences to their feet. You can “feel” their music and witness their pure delight when they perform. My feet just can’t stop moving. These guys even “do” Barbershop harmonies with ease….the entire package is an eargasm (and ladies, they are easy on the eyes too).

I arrived at The Hard Rock early and had the good fortune to listen to their sound check. As luck would have it they rehearsed a special song, in its entirety, they would be playing specially for Marsden’s birthday. It was wonderful.

When Xprime hits the stage they own it until they walk off. The band is so animated and have so much fun when they perform it shines through in their music and draws the audience in. The music gets you up and on your feet. You can’t help but move. They were the absolute perfect start for the evening.

This is the second time I have enjoyed an Xprime show and I just love them. I will continue to catch their performances any time I can (next one is at the Rivoli in Toronto March 27).

They have just released their first album entitled “The Album”. This follows the 2012 release of their EP “Here We Are”. Find out more about these lovely lads at www.xprime.ca.  Give their new album a listen….and dance.

Xprime’s evening finale….here is their performance for David Marsden.

Xprime – Hard Rock Cafe, David Marsden Birthday celebration

If you get the opportunity, check Xprime out live…JUST DO IT!

xprime

 Xprime March/April Tour Dates

 March 19 – Bier Markt Queensway (Mississauga)

March 20 – Homegrown Hamilton (Hamilton)

March 21 – Van Gogh’s Ear (Guelph)

March 27 – Rivoli (Toronto)

March 28 – Angel Inn (Niagara On the Lake)

April 2nd – Red Hot Chili Pepper (St Catharines)

April 3d – The Hub (Secret show Welland)

April 4th – Red Hot Chili Pepper (St Catharines)

April 10th – Spicy Olive (Niagara Falls)

April 11th – Kilt & Clover (Beamsville)

April 17th – Fallsview Casino 365 lounge (Niagara Falls)

April 18th – Fallsview Casino 365 lounge (Niagara Falls * Casino dates are with Stacey Kaniuk as guest

April 24th – Kully’s (St Catharines)

April 25th – REEB House (Port Colborne)

Xprime- My Fair Lady

Second act….Marcus Kihn

Marcus Kihn is new to my ears. I had not heard his music prior to the Hard Rock gig. Consider me tuned in and on notice.

M arcus Kihn2

Marcus Kihn – Hard Rock March 7, 2015

Kihn has released eight albums, the first, Together, in 2005. The most recent is Lascivious, a complete escape from his previous work, more techno with sounds effortlessly flowing in and out in multiple layers. Called “a soundtrack to pleasure”, one line on his website sums it up, ¹“Lascivious often feels like Deep Buddha, St. Germain and Peter Gabriel, circa WOMAD ’95, sailed off to Thailand to sip on Sang Thip whiskey and burn sticky buds with beautiful people on a talcum beach.” Lay back, put the headphones on, and float. Certainly hits your pleasure zone.

All the cuts I listened to on his website and had me rolling in my office chair. Some of these he shared with us at the Hard Rock. Running to the Light from the All Sides Facing Out album, a latino-flavoured piece, is smooth and flowing. You want to glide to the dance floor, sway your hips and swish your skirt. Another song in particular stood out – The Way She Moves Me – from his Forward Gaze album. The guitar intro just grabs and holds you. Kihn’s influencers include Gabriel, Lanois, Depeche Mode, Dead Can Dance and Pink Floyd — a very diversified mix —  the latter being the catalyst for his music career. Kihn can be classified in several genres including electronic pop, rock, alternative, adult contemporary and indie. A little something for everyone.

Following is Kihn’s setlist from the Hard Rock show and the titles of the CDs the songs are from.  Give them a listen at his website – www.marcuskihn.com. I’m positive you’ll find something you’ll like. I dare you not to dance.

MarcusKihn_Forward Gaze

Forward Gaze album — Living More, Running Through Your Life, The Way she Moves Me, She Came Back, Goodbye.

MarcusKihn_Mental album

Mental album – Middle

MarcusKihn_Together

Together album — Driving Away, Miss the Morning, Ghosts

MarcusKihn_All Sides album

All Sides Facing Out album – Half, Running to the Light

The third act and headliner….

SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE

Slave

Formed in 1999, SLAVE’s influencers include Devo, David Bowie and Talking Heads. According to their bio Slave “was born out of a mutual admiration for these bands….a penchant for fat, funky bass lines….that infections retro dance beat and a flair for the dramatic on stage.”

SLAVE’s most recent album release is “Asphalt Sex & Rock ‘N’ Roll”.

Slave Asphalt Album

I am very disappointed to have missed SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE. Having several different venues to hit in a short time frame meant, unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to the end. I will be keeping an eye out for their next gig.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of tunes by SLAVE To The SQUAREWAVE

SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE – Sinners of Saint Avenue

SLAVE TO THE SQUAREWAVE – London Baby

….and then there was Bubble Pop.

My second birthday bash of the evening.

Bubble Pop Bday Cake

Club 120…..Happy Birthday BUBBLE POP!!!!!!

Jonathan and I stepped out of the Hard Rock and headed off down Yonge St. to Club 120. It’s a beautiful night for a stroll and that hot pink boa, still draped around Jonathan’s neck, is leaving a little trail of hot pink feathers down Yonge St. I was beginning to feel like Hansel and Gretel seeking all things sweet. Guess what….we found it!

I have no idea what time it is (but it’s late) and we are now standing at the end of the Bubble Pop lineup  (which continues to grow behind us). The music greets you before you even enter the building. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is getting carded, except Jonathan and I. This is an obvious indicator of the general age group of the Bubble Pop participants. What have I got myself into?! The bouncer gives us a big grin and nods us in….here we go…..

Club 120

Club120 @ 120 Church St.

First, a huge shout out and big thank you to Gerald Belanger, aka VJ Gee, all round K-Pop master who was literally the heartbeat of Bubble Pop. After several messages back-and-forth on FB, he graciously invited this journalist as his guest to the festivities at Club120.

Bubble Pop VJ Gee 2

Gerald Belanger aka VJ Vee at home in the booth

We climbed up, what seemed at the time, one very long flight of stairs…

Bubble Pop stairs

and….oh my….I haven’t seen this much action since my disco days. The dance floor was a hot and sweaty, writhing, seething mass of bodies. They cheered, screamed, danced and clapped when their favourite video appeared, and everyone knew the words to every song. Reminded me of the Dirty Loops song Sexy Girls….”sparkling lips, shaking hips at my fingertips….”

Bubble Pop dancefloor

Bubble Pop 2013

And then there was the light show both on….

Bubble Pop 2012 - David Lau Photography

Bubble Pop 2012 – David Lau Photography

…and off the dance floor, and it was spot on. (Pun intended)…

Bubble Pop Lights

…and VJ Gee worked his magic in the booth.

Bubble Pop Guys Console

Three levels of action….

Bubble Pop levels

A gigantic screen over the dance floor where all the K-Pop videos were displayed,

Bubble Pop THE screen

The SCREEN

…and more thumpa, thumpa music than I could keep up with. The bass was enough to make my body pulsate and vibrate long after I left the club. Everyone was having a blast, the drinks were flowing, photographers running all over the place and VJ Gee was grooving to the tunes in his sound booth. People with purple hair, green hair, skirts up to here and tops down to there, furry hats with cats ears, more garters and stockings than my local lingerie shop, heels and runners, dressed to the nines or barely dressed at all, jeans and leather, dress up or dress down….whatever floated your boat. More stylin’ than a fashion show.

When Jonathan and I squeezed out, the party was still going strong and the silence outside was almost deafening. All indicators point to the fact that K-Pop is very much alive-and-well and living in downtown Toronto.

Dance on my K-Pop friends….

The evening’s finale…

The 120Diner

Diner 120

The end of an already long day and plenty of frolicking on dance floors, my stomach decided that I’d had enough gin and required something a bit more substantial to nourish my system. I was famished and whatever alcohol I had left in my system needed a counterbalance, plus my dawgs were barking.  My feet had been seriously abused for the past 12 hours.

Conveniently located right next door, and below the club, is 120Diner We decided to check it out since it’s open until 4am.

Menu please…. 

Special Menu

We ordered the Tablita Suah for two and it was lick-the-plate deelish. Extra bread was requested so we could mop everything up. Yum!!

All Gone

Toto hecho

The service was excellent and the atmosphere relaxed. Patrons were serenaded, Latin style, by two young men playing acoustic guitars. (I didn’t get their names….my faux pas and a muddled brain.) There’s something about late night Latin music that can give you that unhurried, languid feeling, as you drift and sashay around any open spot on the floor….slow and easy….or just linger over that final drink of the night. Sprinkled with a few up-tempo numbers, 120Diner was a delightful find and a fantastic end to very pleasurable day.

A Little Latin Music….

Latin Music 2)

120Diner hosts a different theme each night of the week from comedy to karaoke to Latin Live! Visit their website at 120diner.com.

voy a volver!

(I’ll be back!)

Sources include Wikipedia, the ubiquitous YouTube, my mind, various websites including marcuskihn.com (¹Paul Fenn), Xprime.ca, 120Diner.com, David Lau Photography, Pop! GoesTheWorld!, Metro newspaper, Facebook (my apologies if I have missed anyone)

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance….

2 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Toronto’s Mixed Grill – A Scrapbook”

  1. terrific account of a wonderful evening, Pat! Cheers!

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