Pat Blythe: This, That and the Other….
I have been in a quandary about what I am going to write about for today’s column. The past week, and especially the weekend, have disappeared in a flash, everything just jumbled together, one thing overlapping the other. Now here it is Tuesday night and I’ve started this piece four times!
The business of being busy is running off on its own path and I appear to be chasing after it wondering if I’ll ever catch up. It’s a winding, “mountain deep, valley high” path and a bit of a maelstrom. So….now on my fifth pass, I launch into this once again. The best laid plans….
I think I’ll start at the end and work backwards….
Sunday night…..it’s studio time!!! Invited by Pat Kelly to hang and listen to Sam Taylor record his new single at Soundhouse Studio, I leapt at the chance. I haven’t been inside a recording studio in 30 years….and I miss it. The entire process fascinates me, how all the pieces fit together and what comes out the other end. I love to listen to each of the instruments separately and how they blend in with the rest of the song. From an entirely “appreciator only” perspective it sounds divine. I had free range with the camera so I roamed catching as much of the process as I could without driving everyone bonkers. It’s all business so it’s best to keep out of the way as much as possible. Thanks everyone for your patience.
Watching Pat Kelly and John Jamieson fit the pieces together, cutting-and-pasting specific chords or sounds, knowing exactly which key and what note needs to be played and held or cut off….astounds me. ….and no click-track. A new song called “The Sound”. Demo version below. When I finally left six hours, one extra large pizza, three spaghetti dinners and numerous coffees later, they were still working. This song when finished….it will be amazing. On drums is Jace Traz, bass player is Jarrod Ross, on bassoon is Jeff Burke, on guitar and vocals is, of course, Sam Taylor and John Jamieson on keyboards. Thank you John and Cyndi Richards for your hospitality. Soundhouse is a comfy, warm, inviting space. The eclectic design and homey touches make it instantly warm and friendly. I hope to be back again.
The Soundhouse Studio Sessions….
Through the glass looking…. L-R Pat Kelly, Sam Taylor, Jace Traz
Relaxing – L-R Jeff Burke, Sam Taylor, Jace Traz
The Sound – Sam Taylor & East End Love (demo only)
Sunday afternoon….I have double-booked myself totally losing an entire day. I’ve agreed to help my friend Amy move a portable, indoor sauna AND I have a meeting/interview/chat session scheduled with Julian Taylor. Oh gawd!!! Amy shows up at my door (after multiple confirmations) all ready and I am…..well….not ready. Shit! Damn! (and any other expletives you can think of), I got the day all wrong. Grabbed everything I thought I might need (forgot my notes for Julian) and, with wet hair, raced out the door with Amy. The blessing was the distance between the sauna location and Relish Bar and Grill where I was meeting Julian…..they were literally around the corner from each other. However, there was no way the dismantling and moving of the sauna was going to be done in one hour. I left Amy working the screwdriver while I jumped in the vehicle and drove around the corner to meet Julian (the vehicle was not parked in a legal spot). Julian arrived about five minutes later. When he asked how I was it all came tumbling out, owning up about my totally fucked up day, and Julian, well I could have kissed him right then and there. He was not only very calm about it, he offered to help Amy and I load the sauna into my vehicle. So, while he ate a quick meal, we chatted about some of what I could remember off my “interview list”. Meal finished, Amy ready, we drove around the corner and Julian proceeded to cart the larger parts of the sauna downstairs and out the door….singlehandedly. I cannot begin to thank him enough for both his time and infinite patience. The chat…..to be continued………..
This is exactly what we moved and believe it or not, it folds up
Sunday morning….late rising. My niece Jen and her boyfriend Zack are here. They split to have brunch with his brother at a local restaurant so I figure I’ve got a few hours alone to get ready for my meeting with Julian and then head to the studio. Boy was I wrong!
Saturday evening….it’s the annual Robbie Burns family celebration. The gathering in London, Ontario at my sister’s place with about 30 other family members….stuffing our faces. The Address to a Haggis (written by Burns) has been read and we are now tucking into a cornucopia of food choices. This is a very important celebration to Scots all over the world and I am 50% Scottish. (The other 50% is Sassenach) Of course, I was in every room in the house with the camera. It’s the one time every year where I get to see family I wouldn’t otherwise during the year. Back in the vehicle, Thom, Angie and I head home and hit the highway at precisely 11pm. After missing my turn-off for the 427 south, we end up touring a bit of the northwest end of Toronto. Not to worry, we’re still home by 1am (ish).
Saturday morning/afternoon….bacon, blueberry pancakes and coffee for five. A late start to the day as the previous evening became early this morning. Son Thom and girlfriend Angie arrive while Jen and Zack are going through their morning ablutions. Breakfast prepared (ensuring the bacon doesn’t “flop”) and eaten, dishwasher loaded, Thom, Angie and I pack up the vehicle and head for London. It’s Zack’s 30th so he and Jen have a full Toronto birthday day planned. We’re on the highway by 2pm. So much for leaving at noon. Running around in London, whipping cream to prepare for the trifle, get my mom organized and we head to my sister’s place.
Ahhhhh…..Friday…. I think this is where I completely lose it on time. I have shopping to do, trifle to prepare, pastry to make, mincemeat tarts to bake and a house to organize. Jen and Zack are actually coming to Toronto TODAY, not TOMORROW. How to say….“my bad”. Not only that, I have a date with Roxanne to see Poor Angus at Hugh’s Room and Xprime at the Horseshoe. To say Friday was completely messed is the understatement of the year. The only thing organized was my camera gear.
L-R – Andrew Bryan, Joel Guenther, slightly to the rear DJ Moons, Brian LeBlanc & Ross Griffiths
Hugh’s Room….seating at 7pm, table for eight perfectly positioned right up at the stage, Roxanne Tellier and I were joined by Annette Shaffer, Peter Kashur and friends, Christine McCaw, Dan Carli, Val Zurin and Ellen Goldenberg.
Poor Angus is a riotous, Celtic quintet hailing from, of all places, Hamilton, Ontario. On stage they are clearly HAVING FUN. Lots and lots of fun. Superb musicians, Poor Angus is comprised of five performers who clearly love what they do. Andrew Bryan (violin and mandolin) originally from Thunder Bay, Ross Griffiths (bagpipes, uillean pipes, tin whistle and flute), Brian LeBlanc (guitar, mandolin and Bodhran), Joel Guenther (rhythm guitar, lead vocals) and DJ Moons (bass). All members are vocalists with everyone singing lead on at least one song. ….and the harmonies are wonderful. Their passion for Celtic music, presenting the songs of both old and new with their own unique arrangements, ensures everyone leaves with a song in their heart and a bounce in their step. Multi-talented, multi-faceted, they complement each other seamlessly. But seriously, most important, it’s obvious the band truly enjoy themselves on stage much to the delight and amusement of their audience, who are immediately engaged…feet stomping and hands clapping. The band’s exuberance is catching with a few people attempting to dance a jig in the rather cramped spaces among the tables. I thought for sure one young couple were going to end up as dessert on a least a couple of the tables. Hugh’s Room is difficult to photograph in, especially with the “no flash” rule….although I must point out that many, many phone cameras were flashing away (and recording) with no apparent scolding. The lighting is poor and sparse….not conducive for shooting (at least one band member is always in the dark). However, I managed to pop a few off. Poor Angus has been officially booked for Robbie Burns 2017. I know where I’ll be January 25 next year. One more thing, my mom would absolutely adore these lads.
L-R – Joel Guenther, DJ Moons, Brian LeBlanc
Xprime….and then there were three….
L-R – Neil Carson, Phil Taylor and Steph Mercier
It’s 10:45pm. Rox and I have to say our farewells to Poor Angus and our new found friends. It’s off to the Horseshoe.
Xprime is a band I have been following since my first introduction to them about 18 months ago. They have a huge fan base and recently signed their first recording contract with eOne Music. Well deserved. Unfortunately Gab Sid, having been in the band from the beginning, made the decision to bid adieu a few months ago so the quartet is now a trio. It has not diminished their performance or their music one iota.
Neil Carson (bass, guitar, vocals), Steph Mercier (guitar, bass, vocals) and Phil Taylor (drums, vocals) rocked the packed house at the Horseshoe. An extremely, hot, steamy, sweaty evening at the Horseshoe. The heat did not phase the audience but you could wring out the boys by the time they left the stage. As usual, Xprime had everyone hopping (including this photographer) and introduced us to a couple of new songs. My ears were fortunate enough to have a “sneak peak” at one and by the time Xprime hit the stage, I knew the lyrics. “Take That Love” is beautiful both musically and lyrically. It’s my new earworm. Creative, high energy and hard working with wonderful harmonies, they take their craft very seriously. I love what they bring to the music scene and always leave their performances energized and smiling.
From behind the crowd
All To Myself – Xprime
After driving Rox home I finally turn the lights out at 4am. Let the weekend begin!
The plan for today’s column was a focus on an amazing Toronto talent, singer/songwriter Julian Taylor. A busy man and a versatile performer, he immerses himself in many flavours of music. There’s the Julian Taylor Band (JTB), is an eight-piece ensemble that includes a brass section blasting out what he terms “soul rock”. A folk side that emerges at the Toronto Danforth Winterfest. As a solo performer he often hosts an acoustic night, along with local musician Tyler Ellis, at the Dora Keogh, inviting other artists to join in with them. Check Dora’s schedule here http://allens.to/dora/ to see when Taylor is there next. When I attended his birthday celebrations a few weeks ago the vinyl on the record player ranged from Herb Alpert’s “Rise” to Jimi Hendrix.
A few members of the Julian Taylor Band
Unfortunately my Sunday got shorted out so a more in-depth piece will have to wait. I would like to give Julian his full due. Taylor was gracious enough to meet me at Relish after he and his band performed to a sold out crowd in Ottawa Saturday evening, driving there and back in a single night. Check out their Ottawa gig here http://juliantaylorband.com/#releases.
Split between two commitments, my time with Julian was cut short (but sweet). I had to get back and help Amy. “Thank you again Julian for helping us out”. Taylor is in the studio for the next few weeks so further discussions will have to wait.
Never Gonna Give You Up – Julian Taylor Band
I did manage to ask him about the responses he had from his Be Good To Your Woman campaign. The song, off the Tech Noir album, evolved into a campaign….”to spark the conversation about trying to stop violence against women.” “Be Good To Your Woman” has become begoodtoyourwoman.com and Taylor has invited everyone to share positive stories about the women in their lives, relationships and the respect people should be accorded. He’s also pledged $2 from the sale of every copy of Tech Noir to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Videos have been submitted, albums sold and donations made to the foundation. Kudos Julian!
Be Good To Your Woman – Julian Taylor Band
I am determined to “up my game” and pay more attention to the remarkably talented musicians we have playing in our clubs, pubs and bars around Toronto. They are the heart and soul of all that it is music here at our doorsteps. There are countless numbers of them and for whatever reason(s), are not getting airplay or fair play by both the industry, the club owners but particularly the audiences themselves. I realize much has changed since I started buying albums back in the 60’s and 70’s but where exactly where exactly do you think all that music came from? While there is no single answer to the dearth of true originals playing our airwaves or over the internet, what I can do is pick up another torch and join fellow writer Frank Gutch by telling their stories and providing some of their music for your listening pleasure…..but truly, there’s nothing like the essence and spirit of a live performance.
Heard Good Things – Julian Taylor Band (live)
All photos taken by Pat Blythe, Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”, copyright 2015 & 2016
YouTube, CBC, Toronto Star, Julian Taylor Band website, Poor Angus website
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!