Pat Blythe: CMW 2015 Over and Out – Part One

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Ahhhh….CMW….ten days that will be permanently etched in my mind, my feet, my body, my bones. What a veritable whirlwind of dinners, dancing, concerts, clubs, conferences, more dancing…. Thank you Sasha Miller and Chole Stelmanis at Audio Blood (Newly christened AB) for providing the DBAWIS team our requisite passes and wristbands to the best music conference….ever.

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As well, a  big round of applause goes to Greg Simpson for booking, arranging, co-ordinating, timekeeping and the general order of all the sessions and keynotes. I know….it’s like herding cats and then keeping them under control. A virtual impossibility but somehow Greg gets the job done with good humour and aplomb. Also, thank you to Neil Dixon who keeps this baby going, year after musical year….you and your team have created a truly marvelous and exciting “happening” that gives so many the opportunity to showcase their talent, network and generally have a raucous good time. We Canadians  know how to do it right!

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Greg Simpson speaking at the Newcomer’s Orientation

Now….let’s see if I can remember exactly what I did and where I went (and when I got home each night/morning). Ah yes, I think I dropped you off at the Jully Black concert May 5. That was quite a show!

Jully

Jully Black

Wednesday, May 6 — Worked furiously on the column due today, my brain behind the eight ball and not quite firing on all cylinders. Finally filed, albeit a tad late but…. Now to prep for the evening’s events as I venture out into the night with friend and fellow DBAWIS columnist Roxanne Tellier. First on the agenda was Walk off The Earth at the Danforth Music Hall. We arrived spot on time but apparently the only media allowed in were of the publicist’s choosing. There was nothing in the CMW show guide indicating this. Very poor communication on somebody’s part. It was a show we had both been looking forward to seeing and writing about. Pity.

Roxanne decided to head back to Scarborough so I taxied over to the Phoenix event in support of the UNISON Benevolent Fund. A stellar turnout in support of our musical family. Hosted by Tom Wilson, many performers, engineers, roadies, electricians, etc. donated their time and talent including (but not limited to) Finger Eleven, Kim Mitchell, I Mother Earth, Jason McCoy, Tomi Swick and The Trews. A first-rate show, the audience was grooving and moving. Even the talent was having a good time entertaining each other as well as the crowd. The show was over by 11pm so I managed to have a reasonably early night. It proved to be the last for several days. To find out more about UNISON and how they assist the community you can find them at unison.ca

A medley of UNISON performers….

Finger Eleven

 

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Finger Eleven 7

Kim Mitchell with the Trews

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Emcee Tom Wilson

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Tomi Swick

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I Mother Earth

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It’s Thursday, May 7 and the conferences begin….the first of the three-day Canadian Music Summit. My first session was View From the Top: The State of the Music Industry, presented by David  Bakula, SVP, The Neilson Company and Russ Crupnick, Managing Partner, Music Watch. It was a lot of numbers (which is usually a snore fest for me) but I found it surprisingly interesting and informative. Our time spent listening to music is increasing but, for teens, more time is spent streaming or with their own digital libraries. I know my “library” of music includes my entire CD collection and then some and the last time I checked, it’s been a couple of years since I was in my teens. The most popular devices used for plugging into? Smartphone and tablets. But the highest (I was surprised at this), at 71%, is still the computer. Also, for the radio folk, I’m sure they found it rather comforting music lovers still rely heavily on the radio to discover new music — it’s still the number one choice overall. As for streaming, we’re all aware there is some dissent in the troops and an ongoing controversy regarding streaming. However, it’s used by 71% of listeners, led by YouTube and Vevo, and has increased 94% by volume just since mid-2014! Are we willing to pay for it….not quite yet but some are seriously considering.

David Bakula

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Russ Crupnick

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Next on the menu was a panel discussion — The Social Conversion Formula: Turning Fans Into Customers Online. This was a hot ticket. The room was packed. The only seat left in the house was the floor. People were lined up against the walls and crowding in at the back of the room. Reps from GigSalad, Kickstarter, Music Glue, Famehouse and Bandzoogle were all here to enlighten and inform young artists how friends and followers develop into a fan base, building a groundswell of support so that by the time the media “discovers” you you’ve already “arrived”. There were lots of eager ears and questions and not nearly enough time.

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and the Trade Show….

 Monster

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The ladies at the Monster booth kept us hydrated….while we traipsed around the trade show checking out the assortment of offerings and chatting with folks that had come in from all over the world — Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Europe, Croatia, etc. The stack of CDs and along with all the flotsam and jetsam collected at the show have now taken up residence on my desk….and I can’t find my desk. There is some serious listening ahead as I rip all this lovely music and plug myself in for a while.

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A Tradeshow Visitor (is Marvel around somewhere?)

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Sign Up for Mentors Cafe (musical speed dating)

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Rox and I met up with Xprime members Phil and Neil who invited us to an event at The Cloak and Dagger. We piled into Phil’s car and headed west. Patio BBQ….drink tickets….everybody’s happy on this glorious, sunny day. Many, many introductions so here’s my memory test. Met Peter Grutta who is currently managing singer/songwriter Adam Langley. Langley, who is from Scarborough, was the winner of Q107’s Rock Out With Randy Bachman contest and performed with Bachman at the Mod Club April 15 of this year. We actually ended up running into Gutta and Langley again at the eOne bash on Saturday afternoon at the Gibson Artists Showroom. They were leaving as we were getting there so we ended up with a parking spot and free parking (a rarity in Toronto)….perfect timing.

Here’s a clip of Adam’s entry for the contest. An amazing guitar player!

….and his performance with Randy Bachman. I laud Bachman for encouraging young, local talent and giving them the experience of a lifetime. Every successful musician in the industry should be doing this.

Randy Bachman & Adam Langley

As Rox noted in her Sunday column, we also chatted with the lovely ladies from Isobel Trigger — Felicia Harding and Ariel Tseng — who were playing at Cherry Cola’s that evening. All this while being beautifully serenaded by Sam Weber.

Fed and watered, we headed back to the Sheraton where we parted ways. I headed home for a very brief respite and a change of clothes….all in preparation for the concert I have been waiting for these past months.

THE concert….

To use the ever popular OMG, OMG, OMG!!!! The Phoenix was jammed….tight….packed like sardines in a very small tin can. I haven’t been that squeezed in….forever. Hot, sweaty, palpitating bodies. Why did I even bother changing?! I circled the main floor twice trying figure out how the hell I was ever going to get close enough to pop off at least a couple of decent shots. Bodies were compressed right up against the stage.

Stage right….I met Frank and his lovely wife Jessie. Now, if you two are reading this and I have Jessie’s name wrong, please accept my apology (and correct me at the bottom of this column). The name Frank I remember because he’s the 9th  or 10th Frank I’ve met/gotten to know in the past four months. After conversing with them for a bit, explaining who I was and what I was doing, Jessie immediately volunteered to forge a path through the crowd to get me as close to the stage as possible….and off she went….and she did. Now I was part of the sweltering, seething mass and wishing I could ditch my jacket (among other things). I stood in that spot, in 3-inch heels, for over three hours, through three bands plus an encore, until I could feel the crowd start to surge forward. Then I got my ass out of there. But….THANK YOU Jessie. My feet are still trying to recover.

First up from Montreal, rock band The Damn Truth.

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Lee-La Baum (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Shemer (guitars), Davie Masse (bass) and Dave Traina (drums). These guys could give any hard rock back a run for their money. Lee-La struts her stuff, has the curves and moves of a burlesque dancer (and that’s a compliment) and uses them at every turn. Live, her voice has the growl of Janis and clarity of Pat and will sear right through you. In control and completely at home on stage. Absolutely no pussyfooting around. These guys meant business.

Lee-La Baum of The Damn Truth

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The Damn Truth – Get With You

Up next, The Lazys, all the way from New South Wales, Australia. Lead guitar player Matty Lazy (Matt Morris) has got to have one of the most expressive faces on the planet. He is completely fearless as he prowls around on stage, at one point, leaving the stage and climbing up on back the bar to play. Ahhh….wireless technology and the freedom to roam. The Lazys had a rockin’ good time on stage. They reminded me of the Gasworks days where you could go to hear solid, pounding, raunchy rock and roll. With Leon Harrison on vocals, Glenn Williams on bass, Liam Shearer on guitar, Jay Braslin on drums, and of course Matt Morris on lead guitar, these five lads have earned a solid reputation as a hard-working, hard rock band. Their high energy live shows, Morris is like an exploding firecracker the minute he strikes the first chord, keep the audience pumping and jumping from beginning to end.

Gritty, almost deafening, and certainly edgy, they developed a Toronto fan base very quickly, impressing both Ralph James, President of The Agency and Larry Wanagas of Bumstead Productions (The Trews/k.d. lang). As bumstead.com states, “they deliver a fistful of rock ‘n roll“. Look for The Lazys October 2015 as they tour Canada and the U.S.

Matt (Lazy) Morris at full throttle

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Vocalist Leon Harrison — drenched. These guys work their asses off.

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….and keeping the beat, the one player we rarely get to see….the drummer….ladies and gents….Jay Braslin

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The Lazys – Shake It Like You Mean It

….and now for the band of the hour, the day, the night….

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These five musicians play stripped to the bone rock ‘n roll and are at the very top of Jimmy Page’s “hit list”. Immediately breaking into Electric Man, Rival Sons had the crowd in the palm of their collective hands instantly.

The music just pulsates right through you, fills you up and just busts out like an explosion….both on and off stage. Hands were in the air, reaching for lead singer Jay Buchanan (who at one point had many hands on his head as he knelt down during one of the songs). I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out.

Buchanan is undoubtedly a blues singer. You can hear the blues in his voice. The music wells up from deep in his soul and he feels every note. His voice has a very distinctive edge, sounding like no one else, and is instantly recognizable. As rock singer, in today’s world, I’d say he’s unparalleled. Powerful, controlled, evocative and at times even haunting.

Jay

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As performers and songwriters, Rival Sons are indeed in front of the pack. Their sound is “big, bold and totally badass”. They play “kick the door in, take no prisoners, ask no questions” rock ‘n roll.” Adjectives aside, as one reviewer put it, “Rival Sons creates music from something old, making it new again. ….my friends, you’re going to like it.”

Don Lawson of The Guardian states, ” It takes a degree of skill to make music that ticks all the classic rock boxes without sounding like a shameless exercise in nostalgia, but despite impeccable retro credentials Rival Sons are doggedly establishing themselves as a vital force for the modern age, too. If you thrilled to the Black Keys’ El Camino, it’s time to meet your new favourite band.”

….and the Rival Sons are….

Scott Holiday, lead guitar

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David Beste on bass

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Todd E. Ögren-Brooks on Keys

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Mike Miley on drums

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Jay Buchanan – Lead vocals

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Rival Sons – Open My Eyes

Rival Sons – Live at Rock am Ring (2014)

Rival Sons takes us up to May 7 with May 8, 9 and 10 still to go. I can’t seem to fit everything into one column. More shows, concerts and a very special dinner. There was simply so much to see and do at CMW, so very many people to meet and greet, and so many thank you’s still left unsaid. To be continued……..

Cheers,

All Photos by Pat Blythe with the exception of the one of Todd E. Ögren-Brooks

Sources

Wikipedia, YouTube, BBC, The Guardian, Maine Music News, bio.com, Yahoo, Facebook

=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 Little Red-headed dancing girland 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: CMW 2015 Over and Out – Part One”

  1. greg simpson Says:

    Thank you for the photo and the kind words Pat, and for covering so well the one aspect of CMW I never get a chance to get to…the festival…too much going on at the hotel for me to go out checking out the bands I’m afraid…I also want to use this space to tip my hat to all the others who program CMW who are numerous…my responsibility is limited to programming the Radio Interactive stream, but others like Gary Taylor, Danya Dixon and many others all have their responsibilities and streams as well…then it becomes my job to collate them all in real time…CMW is MY New Year’s Eve…my work year begins and ends with it, and, in two weeks I’ll be in California monitoring another to hopefully get fresh ideas and scout speakers for our 2016 version, as the boss, Neill Dixon is now on the road checking out another. Now, three days after I’ve come home, I’m beginning to get some feeling back in the soles of my feet, and have cut back my cat naps to about ten a day. Great getting to meet you and to hang out with others from the DBAWIS team. See you next year if not sooner.

  2. Great coverage.Photographic and written!

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