Pat Blythe – A Ballroom, Hearts, a Secret and more….


The weekend of January 30/31 was….in a word….busy. This seems to be my mantra these days….busy, busy, busy….and I’m loving it. Two nights in a row at Cherry Cola’s introduced me to a few new Indie bands while allowing me the pleasure of hearing a few of my favourites. Something tells me “Indie Week” has already started….at least in this column.

cherrycolas_logo1There is soooooo much first-rate talent in this “city of music” that, with the exception of local fans, goes largely unnoticed by the greater general audience. There are a myriad of reasons why….no one single answer, but RADIO PLAY would help immensely in getting the music out to the public. Let them be the judge.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to get the word out. Many, many thanks to the lovely and delightful Cherish Stevenson, Cherry’s ever welcoming owner, for hosting this wonderful talent, their ongoing support for local artists and giving everyone the opportunity to shine.

Friday, January 30 and it’s Mod Night at Cherry Cola’s….


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It’s Mod Night at Cherry Cola’s and this is the third chance I’ve had to see Michael Stanfield (lead vocals, guitar), Hayley Carro (bass), Mat Power (lead guitar) and Rob DeSimone (drums). As my FB posts states, and I quote, Well…..I have to say, for those of you, for whatever reason, couldn’t make it to Cherry Cola’s last night…..well…..the night was on fire!! ….and so was Blackdog Ballroom. You missed a spectacular show. First set….the new album. Second set….yes a second set…..the best that Britain had to offer including Ziggy Stardust and The Kinks.. I stayed until the very last note. Opening act Jack the Lads hit their stride and were perfect as lead in to BB. Everyone had fun! Matt Groopie you blow a mean harmonica!”

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Mike Stanfield

Sounds Like Now – Blackdog Ballroom

The club was jam packed and Blackdog Ballroom was ready. Launching their new album, “This Is Blackdog Ballroom”, the four-piece ensemble blew the roof off  the club and had the crowd rocking from the get go. The energy was palpable and kept at peak level until the last chord was struck. Stanfield is quite at home on stage and behind the mic. His love of performing is obvious. He easily interacts with the audience, even inviting the photographers to join the band on stage. The music….somewhere between rock, mod, punk and pop….a combination that keeps you moving and, yes, dancing.  For the first set, BB performed the entire album. From “Sounds Like Now”, (headbangingly punkish) through to “Controlling Freedom”, the pulsating beat doesn’t stop. I am listening to the album as I type this and my fingers are flying across the keyboard trying to keep up. Don’t look for any ballads here.

Clearview – Blackdog Ballroom

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Shot from back of the bar….L-R – Rob DeSimone, Michael Stanfield, Mat Power

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L-R – Hayley Carro, Michael Stanfield, Mat Power

One song in particular, “7.3 Seconds” has a rather interesting tale behind it. This is Stanfield’s story (I’ve condensed it somewhat). “We were invited to play at an event in Washington D.C. and to assist with the costs, the event organizer offered to host the band in her home. Leaving Canada in a terrible snow and ice storm was not a favourable beginning. Van troubles ensued and, sputtering into a small town in Pennsylvania, we encountered “Punky”, who, after tasting all the fluids the engine could provide, informed us we had “dirty gas”, and were out of luck until the next day. We finally pulled into Washington the day of the show, but the trip turned even more bizarre that night.

The organizer turned up at her home banging on the front door, claiming she was being attacked (it was actually security from the show who had driven her home in her car due to her state). Finally, after being cajoled into relinquishing the security guard’s phone (she had grabbed it from him at some point) she sat down and “ordered” a gin and tonic. She then headed into the kitchen where we could hear her rummaging around in the drawers. She returned to the living room and started lighting matches, dropping them into her drink and then fishing them out to suck the sulfur off the tips. After several minutes of silence, she then walked up to me, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I could kill you in 7.3 seconds.”

We booked it out of there as soon as our hostess fell asleep.  I had to write the song just to know it actually happened.”

Jack the Lads….

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Jack the Lads performing at Cherry Cola’s

Starting off the night was local Toronto pop/rock band Jack the Lads. The trio includes Julian Lee on guitar and lead vocals, William “Tumbleweed” Macquarrie on bass/backing vocals and Paddy Beirne on drums. Founded in 2012 by singer/songwriter Julian Lee after connecting with bass player Macquarrie, they eventually found their drummer in the “intense” Paddy Beirne. These three young lads remain permanently parked in the 60s, an era of music they are passionate about. The band’s repertoire ranges from pop to rock to soul with a taste of everything else in between, paying homage to the sounds of the British Invasion with their own particular twist. A little bit of a Clash, combined with The Jam, add a titch of the Honeycombs, even a dash of Buddy Holly, stir with The Beatles. I’m sure there’s more you can add to the pot but you get the idea. Barely three years old, The Lads have performed at CMW two years in a row and continue to play at local clubs on the circuit, including The Silver Dollar, Velvet Underground, The Opera House, The Phoenix, and The Drake Underground.

The name of the band was appropriated from an old Irish sea-shanty: “If ever a fellow took delight in swigging, gigging, kissing, drinking, fighting Damme, I’ll be bold to say that Jack’s the lad.”

Oh, and the other intrepid photographer, Dylan Weller in action.

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Dylan Weller 

Saturday, January 31….

Back at Cherry Cola’s for another ear-bending evening. As I settle into my seat at the far end of the bar, my first “tall” G&T of the night is almost immediately placed in front of me. Electric pink earplugs at the ready, a big hug for Matt Lightstone of Secret Broadcast and my friend Peter Montreuil and I’m good for the night. Let the music begin.

For tonight’s entertainment we have three bands performing….first up, home grown rock band Girls Give Me Pills, a brand new band to hit the circuit…..and they have a female drummer! A solid, kick ass, female drummer! Not much information about them available yet, their website not fully populated. Founded in September 2015 (according to their FB page) their debut was just three months later on Boxing Day. Members are Adam, Kyle and Karli (whom I am assuming is the drummer). Solid performance by this trio, I’ll be keeping my ears to the ground.

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Karli on drums (bass player in the reflection)

From The Inside Out – Girls Give Me Pills

Modern Hearts….

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The name of this band was so, so familiar but I couldn’t quite place them. As soon as they took the stage the drummer’s signature pork pie hat was a dead giveaway. Now firing on I all four cylinders, I realized I had judged this band at the Silver Dollar during Indie Week. They were very good then, they put on a great show at Cherry’s. It’s amazing what six months can do. I was delighted to see them perform again and they didn’t disappoint.

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L-R – Jason Sulyma, A.J. Pinsonneault, Gary Stitt and Steve Wilde

This talented foursome manage to blend pop and rock together with a touch of alternative, all matched with great harmonies and wonderful musicianship, producing a full, rich sound. The crowd couldn’t help but dance. It was challenging to stand still and take photos. My feet just wanted to chew up the dance floor. Lead vocalist Gary Stitt was a bit under the weather but that didn’t show one whit. Modern Hearts members include lead vocalist/synth and rhythm guitarist Gary Stitt, lead guitarist and harmony vocalist Steve Wilde, bassist Jason Sulyma, and drummer A.J. Pinsonneault. It was such a pleasure to see them perform once again. I’ll be looking for them at the various summer festivals this year including, once again, at Indie Week. I’m hooked. Note to Kat, don’t put me on the judging team for these guys this year. You already know which way I’ll vote.

According to broadcaster Alan Cross of Edge 102.1, “watch this band. They have the songs, the chops and the smarts to be a factor.” I agree.

How To Love – Modern Hearts

Take the few minutes to watch and listen to the vocals in this video. The harmonies….beautiful.

All I Want Is You – Modern Hearts

Secret Broadcast….

Finally….I have the opportunity to actually hear and photograph this band. I caught them briefly last year when they performed with Die Mannequin at the Horseshoe. At that time the Horseshoe was so stuffed you couldn’t move and the sound was some of the worst I’d ever heard. The vocals were buried and the rest of the instruments were all mushed together, it all sounded like they were playing in the key of J demolished. I left. …. and yes, I did run into J.C. Sandoval and Care Failure during CMW and talked to Care about it. She recognized the problem as it wasn’t the first time someone had mentioned it.

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L-R – Will Bennett, Matt Lightstone & Curtis Harding

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There he is, drummer Keith Heppler

This time, I happily stayed right to the musical end. I arrived at Cherry’s early and the club rapidly filled up. By the time Secret Broadcast took the stage the place was was jammed (people were lined up to get in at one point). Singer/songwriter Matt Lightstone on vocals and guitar, drummer Keith Heppler, Curtis Harding on bass, keyboards and vocals, and Will Bennett on guitar, these four comprise the sound that is Secret Broadcast. Heavily compared to Radiohead, Secret Broadcast brings their own twist to what has been referred to as “guitar-driven melodic rock”. Originally from Calgary, the band now calls Toronto home. Their most recent album, Filthy Souls, produced by Adam Kasper (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age), was recorded at Robert Lang Studios in San Francisco. The same studio where Nirvana recorded their very last song.

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Matt Lightstone and Curtis Harding….another shot from the bar overlooking the crowd at Cherry’s

Saturday night Secret Broadcast killed it. They filled the club with music and people couldn’t stop moving. Amazingly enough, club goers even stopped trying to have a conversation and instead, actually shut up and listened. Lightstone was thoroughly enjoying himself, bantering with the crowd. Versatile bass player Harding also provided great harmonies to Lightsone’s lead vocals in addition to taking on the role of pianist and lead vocalist for a number of tunes. A brilliantly talent team.

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…..and now all four….

There’s One Born Every Minute – Secret Broadcast

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Matt Lightstone and friend Peter Montreuil

…..and just a note on Sam Taylor, both singles were officially released yesterday and are now available on download from iTunes. Look for “The Sound” and ”Don’t Go Givin’ Me Love”. Pay the .99 and support your local musicians.


All photos by Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”, copyright 2016, all rights reserved.


YouTube, band websites, Facebook, conversation


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7In “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 husbandpblytheChristopher 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!

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