Pat Blythe: Music, Mayhem and Marvelous People
The weeks are just flying by. As a matter of fact, I think I missed a few just by blinking. This summer was one of the best ever in terms of music, mayhem and marvelous people. I have met countless new faces, made some brilliant new friends and reconnected with numerous folks, long thought fallen through the many cracks of life. It’s been a unending discovery, a wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights discovery, of going places and doing things that never, not even in my wildest neurons, would I have even remotely considered. It’s been a mind-bending, life altering, rollercoaster ride and I don’t want to ever get off. It’s called living!
It’s Party Time!
On Friday, September 25 it was my 59th birthday. I have now entered the last year of this particular decade and I feel younger now than I did 10 years ago. Secretly my brain thinks it’s 19. Ha!! I don’t have the heart to break the news. This birthday, however, was extra, extra special. Peter Kashur (the ringleader and herder of kittens) arranged for The Alzheimer’s Orchestra and Chorus to perform at the Tranzac. Bob Segarini, Roxanne Tellier, Drew Winters, Karen Bell on backup and harmonies, our hostess Annette Shaffer on backup vocals and Ruth Jenkins, who blew the most amazing harmonica… !WOW! You should all take a bow. You made the day so very special. The whole event was magical and my heart was just bursting. How often does a girl get her own birthday concert?! My sisters, Chrissie and Carrie drove from London with a giant cake and balloons (including a Princess balloon complete with tiara). Sons Aarron and Thom joined the festivities and two of my longest standing friends, Robin and Frank, were there. A big hug and heartfelt thank you to all who came out and for all the beautiful birthday cards. Apparently everyone had a really, really, really good time. ….and we ate cake. There was indeed a lot of love goin’ round. A great dinner and good conversation followed. I then proceeded to introduce my rather sheltered sisters (it’s been years since either one had done a pub crawl) to the club scene in Toronto. First stop was Sarah Smith at McVeigh’s on Church St. There we met up with a truly wonderful lady, my friend Jennie (who had just flown in from Ottawa) and her fiancée, another old friend, Pete Genrick. We all sat and watched Sarah’s first set (Sarah now has two new fans in Jennie and Pete) and then guided my sisters, in a rather roundabout way, to Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n Rolla Cabaret and Lounge for the evening’s nightcap. After introducing them to the fabulous Cherish Stevenson, we had a drink on the house, watched the band and then headed home. This was, by far, THE BEST BIRTHDAY….EVER! That concert “high” will stay with me for quite some time. Thank you Bob and Peter for Groucho Marx. Next year at this time you will find me walking the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage in Spain.
Not to forget, it was also my sister Chrissie’s birthday. She was my second-birthday, birthday gift (although growing up sharing your birthday with someone wasn’t always roses). So sending much love to my sister Chrissie. September 25th was your day too. I am so privileged and truly blessed to have you and Carrie, two such wonderful sisters, in my life.
My beautiful sisters Carrie (L) and Chrissie (R) listening to the Sarah Smith Band and McVeigh’s
Sarah Smith, Bobby Reynolds and Ken “The Zen” Ross at McVeigh’s
My house is now undergoing some serious alterations. The packing up damn near killed me. Who knew how much stuff one could stash away in a slightly under 400 square foot second floor. The bathroom alone was only 5’x7′. The space was so tight I would get my hips stuck between the old claw-foot tub and the sink. (stop snickering) I kept thinking of Rox’s “stuff article” a few months back as I was packing up containers. Where does it all come from? I have far too much of it! The basement, main floor and front porch are stuffed with stuff. There is stuff everywhere. Stuff even went to the local Value Village. Stuff was thrown out. Stuff went to the dump….and even then there is far too much stuff. I could open a Stuff Store. There’s already a Kitchen Stuff Store and they have some really cool stuff. There’s a shop in Toronto called Adornments on Queen. A lovely name for a stuff store. I’ve never entered it’s hallowed halls for fear I would find stuff to buy I most assuredly don’t need.
The renovations will reveal a new, very enlarged bathroom, an expanded middle bedroom with an adjoining small office area, and the master bedroom….it’s going to be waaaaay cool. My contractor Dan Gomes and his team Doug and Nicky have been working their asses off to get this done in (hopefully) five weeks. We are now into the third week and things are looking good. Living through this is not always smooth sailing but we’re managing. Currently, there is one small bathroom in the basement, which is accessible only from the outside with a functioning toilet and nothing else. The previous owners, for some bizarre reason, decided to do away with access from the main floor. Showering has been either in London (when I’m there) or at my neighbour’s. Sleeping arrangements….all I can say is thank heaven for my great big couch. My son Thom sleeps in a loft my husband built in the back porch/laundry room. Somehow, creeping outside in the middle of the night to use the loo is not my idea of a good time. I am so ready for this to be done.
Today, October 1 will be the second anniversary of my husband’s death. A harsh word, and one that makes many people uncomfortable in its finality, but there it is. They say the first year is the hardest but really it’s the second. The first year is a blur and you go through it almost in a daze. The second year is when you notice that empty space, his “spot” on the couch that will never be filled, that you’re still sleeping on “your” side of the bed and beside you is a mass of stuffed sheep just to fill the void. The second year is when you realize that person is really and truly never coming back. In the second year, you miss them the most and their absence is more poignant. It’s the second year that it really hits home. I think of him every time I pick up the camera for it is his gear I am using to hone my craft. A professional photographer for 40 years, Chris was the consummate picture taker. He observed people, places and events with an unusual eye and a unique perspective. He loved his craft and the entire process…from taking the picture to developing the negatives in his own darkroom. His approach to everything was unlike anyone I have ever met. He was an accomplished artist. He taught me much about photography, cooking and life.
There have been so many changes at my house and in my life during the past 12 months. I sometimes stop to wonder, for only a moment, if it’s because I feel this deep desire to “rearrange” everything to make it more my own, to keep busy for the sake of busy, or, as some people suggest, to separate myself from what was and begin to build my own life. Probably all those reasons and then some. I never stop to analyse too much. I only know that I am simply enjoying life with a renewed gusto and looking forward to new adventures. Chris used to say “be here now”. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
Groucho Marx – Bob Segarini (Cats and Dogs)
(Unfortunately, due to time constraints I haven’t had time to copy the videos I have from the Tranzac concert into YouTube. However, this is one of my favourite songs. Melancholy but beautiful. This is the original recording by Cats and Dogs, with Bob singing lead and backup vocals that include Drew Winters and Karen Bell)
My new friends and my old friends have been a godsend. They have managed to keep my life full and very happy. Yep, I have quiet moments when the “missing” is more acute and the tears are inevitable but I have so many amazing people in my life these moments are further and further apart. I now have the chance to follow my passion and learn a new craft, all with the push and support of so many and a few very special individuals. Now is the time, my time, and I’m dancing for all it’s worth. ….and I’m getting that new bathroom!
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Pat’s Party Pics
Annette Shaffer — our Hostess with the Mostess
The Alzheimer’s Orchestra and Chorus getting ready for their debut – L-R Drew Winters, Roxanne Tellier, Bob Segarini, Peter Kashur, Ruth Jenkins, Annette Shaffer and the lovely Tranzac bartender
Ruth Jenkins on harmonica
Peter Kashur — The Orchestra’s fearless leader
Annette Shaffer and Roxanne Tellier
Annette Shaffer, Roxanne Tellier and Bob Segarini
Drew Winters and Karen Bell
Photos by The Picture Taker.
Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.
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In “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 husbandChristopher 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!