Pat Blythe – Time Flies…Music Soars
It’s my anniversary!!!! My one-year anniversary writing for DBAWIS!! I cannot believe how fast the time has flown and what a year it has been. A wild and woolly ride full of music, festivals, clubs, bars, a little G&T, dancing, more music and incredible people. Have you ever suddenly blinked and wondered, “Holy shit, what just happened? WHAT the HELL has just happened?” My life, as I knew it, has inexorably changed….almost transformed….I blinked.
Joining DBAWIS and the fantastic team of writers has been pure joy. I get to spill my guts in black and white. It has sucked me out of my quiet complacency and thrown me into the whirlwind of a business I had been separated from for many years. Music. I didn’t realize how much I missed it, until I did. Music and dance….two passions that have been simmering just beneath the surface for far too long. Now cutting loose, I am making up for lost time and thoroughly enjoying every single step. There is soooooooo much going on in this city it’s challenging to keep up. I’ve been to places I never dreamed (or considered) entering (some of which still remain questionable), attended shows and festivals never previously contemplated, made some fabulous connections, taken thousands of photos and made fantastic new friends. I’m now writing constantly, hearing great music (there is such a prodigious amount of talent to expose) and my camera is never far from my side. All of this in a single year! It has been an extraordinary ride, both transforming and mind-blowing.
It’s all about the people and the music. Yep….Tab A slipped really well into Slot B.
Two events in one Wednesday evening last week….the GIG pop-up event at the Drake Hotel with Roxanne Tellier and then it’s over to the Jazz Bistro to hear Danny Marks. I can do this.
A brand new musical from Craig Martin, producer of Classic Albums Live, GIG is centered around five singers and their quest (or is it thirst) for fame and fortune. The cast includes a couple of booking agents (one seasoned “old guy”, the other a new kid with a lot of balls), a groupie (of which no rock story can be complete without), the mandatory rock star, the rapper, the obligatory diva and of course the new, up-and-comer….the young thing with the really big dreams. GIG features cracker-jack musicians performing live on stage who also interact with the cast during the show. For about 45 minutes, and performing all original material, the actors gave the audience a sneak peak of the show and the various characters. Craig Martin came over and introduced himself to Rox and me, as did publicity person Deborah Knight. Roxanne also introduced me to singer Nick Walsh whose long blonde locks are perfect for the “rock star” role he plays. A long time friend of Rox’s, Walsh has a heavy background in rock singing with bands Slik Toxik, Raised on Mars and Revolver. Walsh also performed with Moxy at the Rockpile East (formally the old Knob Hill Hotel) for their 40th anniversary and currently sings with Classic Albums Live, fronting the Led Zeppelin series. Singer/songwriter Pat Kelly portrays the seasoned booking agent, his very first theatre “gig”, and he’s having fun with it. Looking forward to the opening on March 15. Catch the show during its seven-day run at the Panasonic Theatre.
The cast of GIG at the Drake pop-up preview
Then it was time to head to the Jazz Bistro to see Danny Marks perform. I will confess right here and now I have not heard his radio show and I don’t know his music except I loved Edward Bear. The Bistro was a tad light on audience but Marks was welcoming and his banter contained many humorous stories and anecdotes. I suspect he has a very quick wit and a razor-sharp sense of humour. I was so glad I made it in time as I have now been introduced to yet another respected, accomplished and very entertaining artist. His ease of playing just about anything the audience requested was marvelous. A man of many hats (one of which he wears on stage) Marks is a guitarist, vocalist, bandleader, radio host AND a recipient of the Toronto Blues Society “Blues with a Feeling Award” for lifetime achievement in music and broadcast
You, Me and Mexico – Edward Bear
Edward Bear – L-R – Paul Weldon , Larry Evoy and Danny Marks
Marks has a long history in music beginning with the halcyon days of the Yorkville scene. A founding member of the rock group Edward Bear (at the age of 16), Marks was in the band from 1966 to 1970, leaving a year after the band signed their first recording contract with Capitol Records. His career eventually led to him to L.A. and then back to Toronto and tours with Ken Tobias, Average White Band, Ronnie Hawkins & Rita Coolidge, Bo Didley, Stephen Stills…the list goes on. As long as his history is in music, Marks has a lengthy history in radio as well. Beginning with Duets, his first radio series with CBC, and for the past 15 years, hosting his own blues show on BLUZ FM on JAZZ FM 91 every Saturday night from 8pm to midnight. He has just released his first album in four years, Cities in Blue. Eight of the songs were originally written as an accompaniment to the eight-part television series “Cities in Blue”. Each of the eight songs reflect a specific city and its special style of blues. The songs segued into an album with Marks including a couple of traditional blues pieces as well. Thank you for the lovely finale to a very busy evening Mr. Marks.
Blues Came To Chicago – Danny Marks (from the series Cities in Blue)
Danny’s “Fancy Lady”….
….and Now, The Weekend Wrap-up
It’s Friday….I am going to relax for a change. No camera or band in sight. I’m sitting at Joe Bidali’s with friend and fellow Beacher Sandy Graham. We are chilling and listening to the relaxing sounds of Michael Williams music selection. Williams, in charge of all things music for Bidali’s, joins us for drinks and dinner, which turned out to be a three-tiered presentation of deliciousness. Home early. Time to catch up on my sleep. Williams played one of my favourite instrumental pieces, one that never fails to bring back some wonderful Sunday morning memories.
Rise – Herb Albert
If it’s Saturday night, it must be Paul James. I attended James’ 65th birthday celebrations at the Phoenix a few weeks ago and it became fodder for this column. The article elicited a response from James and an invitation to attend his show at The Duke February 13. The Duke also happens to be in my ‘hood so going out on one of the coldest nights of the year was a no-brainer. One of James’ biggest fans is Sam Taylor, the young blues wonder I have been going on (and on) about recently. Guess who my plus one was? Singer/songwriter/producer Pat Kelly also joined us and the three of us took in the show as James took The Duke by storm. Not only is James an animated performer on stage but at one point we could hear his guitar and….where the hell was James? He appeared at the back of the club. He wanders and twirls around the place playing his guitar, grabbing a quick beer, a quick two-step with a patron, and does his well-known spin while playing the guitar over the back of his head. Engaging and entertaining are two very apt descriptions. With Gary Grey on keys, Michael Theodore on bass and stand-up bass and Paul Armstrong on drums, James’ band is an extremely tight unit. You’d have to be to play with James. He is a consummate musician who is clearly in command of the show, carrying it off with a natural ease that belies the fact every move and nuance is clearly calculated with precision timing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Close to fifty years in the biz and thousands of gigs gives you that. James played three sets and the crowd loved him…the dance floor was always busy. He came by the table to say hello and was introduced to Taylor who had been watching and appreciating James intently, note-for-note, move-for-move. The two then signed each other’s CDs and exchanged them. By the time Taylor left, he was floating about three inches above the ground. Thanks for a great evening Paul!
Gotta Give Me Some Of It – Paul James (live)
…and he’s off on his journey around the club….first stop, thirst quencher
The requisite refreshment….
That bottle is good for more than just holding beer….
L-R – Pat Kelly, Sam Taylor, Paul James
The exchange…..hey, that’s my photo on the back of Sam’s CD!
Valentine’s Day and it’s Sunday….
Received a call from Pat Kelly, inviting me out to Harper’s Landing in Oakville to see him and Jeff Burke perform. I was collected at 3pm and we headed west to the GO station to pick up Burke. He of the bassoon….and Theremin (yes, “that” instrument Sheldon Cooper plays to annoy the pants off Leonard). Burke’s range on the bassoon runs the gamut — from classical to folk to rock ‘n roll — all depending on who he’s playing with and their requirements. He also creates some incredible sounds, and dare I say “music”, on the Theremin. Burke’s been playing the bassoon for almost 40 years, and still enjoys busking in the summer. He’s had a TTC license to play in the subway system for over 20 years. Friends for about 25 years, Burke is also Pat Kelly’s close friend and “go to” person for the unique sound of the bassoon, when required, in the recording studio or on stage. They have also been performing together for most of those 25 years and Sunday night I got the pleasure of watching and listening to them both. With Kelly on acoustic guitar, the two of them did some of the best mashups I’ve ever heard. Taking requests from the diners, the staff and customers were loving it with one staff member, Dan, even filling in on drums (an upside down storage container). I also met the lovely and talented Marysia Gonzalez who sang vocals (wonderful, clear voice)for one of the requests. It was three hours of pure fun. AC/DC without a wild and riotous band behind you? You should hear Kelly and Burke’s rendition. The pair were enjoying themselves so much, they continued to perform well past their end time of 9pm. Another fab evening of pure enjoyment….and no camera.
Happy Till I’m Not – Pat Kelly
It’s Tuesday and we all woke up to snow. About five inches in the Beach, at least according to my back deck and the ruler. Not a day for driving. I was planning to head out to the Lula Lounge for a SING! Toronto fundraising event and then head to Hugh’s Room to listen to some new artists. Unfortunately, although the main roads were clear, the side streets were not and I couldn’t dig my vehicle out. I had been invited to both events so my apologies to everyone but especially the performers. SING! Toronto is a non-profit organization and sponsor the SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival which runs from May 5 to 16 this year. Kongero, a women’s a cappella group from Sweden, and Toronto’s own Countermeasure were performing at the Lula Lounge. I love in a cappella, especially the harmonies, and was disappointed to miss these two groups. Over at Hugh’s Room, four new artists were performing. Jane Harbury, knowing I love to talk about new talent, had extended the invitation and I was excited to hear new voices and musicians. The event is called Discoveries and Harbury, like many of us, gets involved in promoting up-and-coming talent. All singers and songwriters, the night’s entertainment included thirteen-year-old Brighid Fry, Indie soul artist Ahi, guitarist Ian Janes and rhythm guitarist Avery Florence. Juggling more than one event in a single night is not easy and keeps me on the run. Depending on timing, I usually manage to see most, if not all, of each of the shows. However, this dashing back-and-forth depends on a vehicle and mine was snowbound. Here is a sampling of what I missed Tuesday night.
There Will Never Be Another You – Countermeasure
AHI – Drought
Keep on dancing!
All photographs by A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”, Copyright 2016
YouTube, CBC, Facebook pages, Cashbox Canada Magazine, Wikipedia
Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 husband