Pat Blythe: Music, Smoke Signals, a Bar Car and Avery Raquel
WOW! A free weekend. No big plans. No club hopping, gin slurping, picture taking. A Friday night and it’s dinner and a movie with friends Robin and Mary Ann. Saturday my niece is in town overnight with her girlfriend. It’s homemade spaghetti sauce on pasta for supper. Tummies happy, we had a lovely natter and then it’s bedtime. Sunday it’s Aunt Pat’s blueberry pancakes. Fed and watered, the girls are sent on their way. I then strolled into the Beach, walking in this glorious sunshine, to a long coffee break with friend Sandy Graham. It was a beautiful weekend. Uneventful and about as exciting as this paragraph. Just what the doctor ordered.
There are still so many things swirling about in my cluttered and jumbled brain. Words and ideas that need to be shaken out. My life has been spilling out all over this column….a journal of sorts. I’ve been loving the Toronto club scene….a city so alive with music and talent….and it’s right in front of our noses. Now it’s physically impossible to see or hear it all, and with festival time rapidly approaching, this will become more and more challenging. The bands start early and stop late….very, very late. I’m doing my best to promote as much local talent as I can through this column, but it’s up to you, Dear Readers, to shift your gift off the couch and into the clubs.
It’s up to you to let City Hall know we ARE a city of music and what wonderful music it is. It is up to you to fork out some of your hard-earned cash to support your local musicians and clubs who are working equally as hard to entertain you.
…and speaking of ‘Jumbled Brains’….
A Tale of Two Brains – Mark Gungor
I had every intention of seething and fuming about this whole “music city” thing our illustrious mayor, John Tory, is so eager to create. Toronto’s just gotta be just like Nashville or Austin, Texas. How about we be “just like Toronto”. Keep in mind, some of the “best of the best” originates from north of the 49th parallel. After some consideration and discussion I’ve decided to hold off and make it more of a research piece by reaching out to Toronto’s Music Sector Development Officer to see what he’s got up his sleeve. I’m interested to hear what he has to say on his role, what’s been done, what the immediate future holds and his thoughts on the Toronto Music Advisory Council.
The fact that I had to search the internet just to find his name is rather telling and leads to oh so many questions so…..I’ll give him a chance to reply. That’s only fair. There are, however, a few points I would like to highlight now — transportation (or lack of) and my thoughts on smokeless patios.
Point the First….
City of Toronto! Yes, I am talking to you. Take a long, very long, hard look at your so-called transportation system!! You say you want to draw people in from the burbs and bring ’em downtown. Okay, so here’s the big picture. Drinking and driving are verboten. The taxi drivers ding us $5 just to squeeze in the door and slide into the cab. We then get a lousy ride in a unkempt, odiferous vehicle (I don’t want to inhale somebody’s midnight snack) while they talk on their phones taking the LONG way home (or you’re giving them directions). Add to that, half the city is trying kill Uber (well at least the taxi drivers are…go figure), and cycling doesn’t work so well in heels, or in the winter.
So, what’s left?
Ahhhhh yes….The Better Way. You’ve heard of snail mail, this is snail rail. But the snail rail shuts down between 1am and 2am. The clubs and bars shut down at 2am. During all those wonderful music festivals (bringing in all those $$$$’s to the city), the clubs and bars shut down at 4am. So…..what’s wrong with this picture? You figure it out. …and by the way, we at DBAWIS are wondering where the bar car will be located on the new streetcars?
We need one of these….
Magic Bus – The Who
Point the Second….
Designated Drivers. Can we have a special lane for DDs please? We have one for cyclists (and that cost a bomb), we have them for two or more riding in a vehicle (HOV), we have special GO bus lanes (GO HOV) so how about a DD lane? ….and while we’re at it…..how about a special lane for all those idiots who like to race their electric bikes, scooters and wheelchairs on the bike paths and sidewalks. Do the cops give tickets to drunken cyclists?
A perfect driving song…..
Life Is A Highway – Tom Cochrane
Point the Third….
Really! Really? No smoking ON the patio. Bbbbut one can stand on the other side of the railing, mere inches away from everyone else still sitting ON the patio….and smoke. What over-the-top, politically correct, bozo birdbrain came up with that one? For that matter, no smoking within so many meters of hospitals, municipal buildings (the list goes on). So let’s shove all those folks onto the sidewalks and “roadblock” the pedestrians, just so you’ve “done your bit”, but everyone entering, leaving or walking by your building gets to walk through the haze (and yes, it’s a kind of purple). Jeez! Just give them a smoking room for gawds sake. Let them breathe their own fumes so we don’t, and have a place to toss their butts. As for the patios, I don’t enjoy eating my meal outdoors with smokers either but there’s got to be some give and take and I can choose where I want to go. It’s really all about choice and that choice is slowly being eroded. Two patios? Designate one for smokers and one smoke free. One large patio? Split it up. Small patio? Bar owner’s call. It shouldn’t be a “law”. Our collective governments….helicopter parenting at its best.
So, on one side of the railing you can smoke…on the other, prohibited.
Back to the drawing board…
Smokin’ in the Boys Room – Brownsville Station
She’s fourteen! She’s sings jazz like she’s been doing it all her life (and she pretty much has). Amazing control. A lovely voice that will continue to develop into something very delicious. At the invitation of Jane Harbury and Sandy Graham, I headed down to listen to two sets of fabulous jazz and this relatively new voice on the scene. Avery Raquel began performing at four years of age and has been charming audiences across the country ever since. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Raquel takes her inspiration from greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and younger performers like Nikki Yanofsky. Raquel has performed at the many jazz festivals in and around the city of Toronto in addition to both the Birdland Jazz Club and the Metropolitan Room in NYC. Her debut album, Life Lessons, has just been released. She puts her own mark on each song and her performances of two of my favourite songs, “Blackbird” and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, were superb. Backed by exceptional musicians Joel Haynes on drums, Mike Pelletier on stand-up bass and Rob Fekete , she holds her own on stage. Raquel’s performance led to a standing ovation. Keep an eye on this one.
L-R – Rob Fekete, Avery Raquel, Mike Pelletier and Joel Haynes piano
Avery Raquel – Over the Rainbow
All photographs of Avery Raquel and her band by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”, copyright 2016
YouTube, Avery Raquel.com
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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 husband