Pat Blythe – Music Mania….
Deadlines. I don’t think I’d get anything done if it weren’t for deadlines….artificial or otherwise. I’m one of those that have a tendency to back one’s self into a corner which forces said person to address shit and just DO IT! Tuesday afternoon and already my head is swimming with so much information, events and “stuff”….past, present and future.
My niece Dayna from Dallas (don’t even go there!) has been in town since last Thursday and it’s been a whirlwind of events since she arrived. Photo shoots, barn dances, concerts, parties, etc. I’ve been dragging her from one end of town to the other. We’ve also had business meetings to attend and somebody tells me I have a column to write. She’s pooped. I am not, and this coming weekend, from Friday to Sunday is going to be non-stop. So….here goes…..
Thursday I had the pleasure of spending an evening with good friend Jon Eddington. Chris and I were very close to Jon and his late wife Jeanne. We all supported each other through both Chris’s, and then Jeanne’s, cancer struggles and attended Gilda’s Club together. Chris died just over year before Jeanne and it was to Jeanne my feet took me the night Chris died. I wear a bracelet of Jeanne’s Jon gave me, and a Celtic one Chris gifted me, every day. It keeps both of them close. A number of weeks ago Jon invited me to dinner and an evening of music at the great Massey Hall. Jon and I hadn’t connected in a while so it was time to catch up. He had moved out of the Beach area and into a new condo by St Lawrence Market. Dinner follow by a mad dash.
I must confess, it was the strangest concert/performance my ears have ever witnessed. Both of us were wondering what we were listening to and I don’t think either of us knew quite what to think. It was certainly memorable and a sellout show as well! Who were we listening to?….Steve Reich. It was his 80th birthday celebration. Not an artist I had ever heard of but apparently he has made a tremendous impact in the world of music and sound. Called “minimal music” it has a been a major influence on contemporary musicians in particular. Influenced by fellow minimalist Terry Riley’s work “In C” which combines simple musical patterns “offset in time, to create a slowly shifting, cohesive whole”, Reich used the same approach for his first major work “It’s Gonna Rain”. The show started out with two 30-minute pieces and ended with a single one-hour piece. Strange, eccentric, compelling, at times mind-numbing and impatient (me) ….definitely out of the ordinary. The vocalists, three women, were amazing. Their vocal gymnastics were remarkable. Of all the performers, I admired them the most. The musicians, extraordinary. I can’t image what the sheet music displayed.
Friday night…..nothing….nada….zip…..bupkas…..a night to relax.
Saturday had me dragging Dayna out to a barn dance, just outside of Hamilton, arranged specifically for me to photograph. A new artist, Alex Fisher had just signed to Entertainment Media Group (EMG) and pics were required. Since I don’t do studio portraits Fisher arranged the dance with himself as the entertainment. I photograph in bars and clubs….live performances…. and candids, anywhere you want me but not in the studio. My preference is to capture the live performance. That’s what I enjoy doing most. Hearing the music is a necessary part of the picture taking. process for me. So 1,100 frames later and we were done. Off to Bullseye Records 30th Anniversary soiree where I ran into our esteemed editor whom my niece immediately connected with. The two of them kibitzed in a language I couldn’t begin to understand and Dayna was enthralled. The two of them smoke so there was an instant report. I ran around snapping pics of party attendees and the folks who were currently performing at the time. Wished Jamie Vernon a Happy Anniversary, throttled back a G&T and headed out the door. I was supposed to head over to see Sam Taylor at the Refinery House but it was too late so I decided to introduce Dayna to Cherry Cola’s and Cherry’s lovely owner, Cherish Stevenson. Great vibes, great music and a great way to end the day.
Sunday was the Kelly Jay benefit show at the Hard Rock Cafe in lovely downtown Toronto. This was one afternoon/evening I had been looking forward to, what with all that history in one room…. Blake Fordham, now known as Kelly Jay was an original member of Hamilton, Ontario band Crowbar.
Starting out as The New Ascots in 1969 with Roly Greenway, Rheal Lanthier and ex-Ronnie Hawkins’ harmonica player King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell).
King Biscuit Boy – Corrina Corrina
They were approached by Hawkins to be his new back-up band and renamed Ronnie Hawkins and Many Others. The band also included John Gibbard, Richard Bell and Larry Atamaniuk. Just over a year later, during a drunken to-do, Hawkins fired the band but also gave them the idea for their name and Crowbar was born. Atamaniuk and Bell were replaced and Crowbar subsequently released their first album, simply called Official Music, on the newly formed Canadian label Daffodil Records. The only single released was “Corrina Corrina”. After Newell left the band, Bad Manors was recorded, the most famous of Crowbar’s albums, in 1971 and the song we know and love today, “Oh What A Feeling” was the biggest single off the album, soaring up the Canadian charts….and we all know the words. Unfortunately, because of its reference to drugs, the song received no airplay in the U.S.
Oh What a Feeling – Crowbar
The night saw many old and new faces and the incredible talent in the room couldn’t be beat. Fifty years of rock and roll all packed into a single space. From the 3pm start to 10pm finish, the rhythm continued, segueing from one act to the next. Members of Crowbar, George Oliver, Luke and the Apostles, Sam Taylor and The East End Love, Gene Pool, The Carpet Frogs (Michael Zweig, Jeff Jones, Nick Sinopoli, Sean Fitzsimmons, Gerry Finn), Greg Godovitz and Pat Kelly….the two organizers of the event….Cathy Young, Rich Dodson from the Stampeders, Paul James, Danny Marks, the list goes on. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Kelly Jay who is currently fighting diabetes among other ailments. If you still wish to donate, you can do so through Pat Kelly at vicioustuesdayproductions @gmail.com.
A few shots from the show…….All photos by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”
L-R – Michael Zweig, Nick Sinopoli, Jeff Jones (The Carpet Frogs)
L-R – Jeff Jones, Jerry Finn, Vic D’Arcy
L-R – Greg Godovitz, Paul James, Robbie Lane
Sean Fitzsimons (and yes, we always get the drummer)
Al Joynes from Q107 emceed
Signed guitar for auction
Kelly Jay is on the phone (L-R – Pat Kelly, Kelly Jay on the phone, George Oliver)
Sweet City Woman – Stampeders
Ed Pilling (Fludd)
Get Up Get Out Move On – Fludd
It’s Festival Season….!
A partial list of the upcoming music festivals coming to a city block near you…
Hot Docs – April 28 – May 8; http://www.hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival
Canadian Music Week (CMW) – May 2 to May 8 (Sheraton Centre); http://cmw.net/
SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival– May 4 to May 15 www.singtoronto.com/
North By Northeast (NXNE) – June 15 to June 19; http://nxne.com/
Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) – September 14 to September 19 (Garrison Common, Fort York); https://www.everfest.com/e/turf-toronto-urban-roots-fest-toronto-on
TD Jazz Festival – June to July 3; http://torontojazz.com/
Beaches International Jazz Festival – July 8 to July 24; http://beachesjazz.com/
Streetfest – July 21-23 http://beachesjazz.com/street-fest/
Electric Island (EDM) – May 23; http://electricisland.to/
Indie Week – November 15 to November 20; http://www.indieweek.com/
Get off your ass, put your dancing shoes on, see, LISTEN and dance to some great music this summer. It’s all at your doorstep.
…..and now for something a little new, you probably haven’t heard before. Sal Piamonte from Ottawa. My niece has just introduced their music to me and I like it….so far. I’m a rocker at heart and these guys can fill the hole.
Get Up, Get Up Sal Piamonte
I truly think every column should be called “Tt’s All About the Music’.
CBC Music, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, my brain (when I can find it)
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 workedalongside her late husband Christopher 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!