Pat Blythe – Life and loss…..
I’m trying to figure out where old sod goes to die. Messing around in my backyard over the weekend and I have several rolls of unusable sod that weigh a ton. Leftovers from last year. Small house, small yard still equals “big” work. Gorgeous weather though….dinner on the patio of my local Italian restaurant, Casa di Giorgio, Saturday night. Some of my favourite people work there… Cathy, Christina, Pam and Ted (the owner). Great food and great people!
I found this little gem in my timeline on FB and thought I would share.
Postmodern Jukebox – My Heart Will Go On
Event wise Friday night was taken up with Mod Night at Cherry Cola’s with Blackdog Ballroom performing. I’m always happy to see Michael Stanfield and the band. The whole Stanfield family turned out (except for underage Hendrix) for the gig including Stanfield’s lovely wife Lisa. After the first set I continued on to the Peppery Cat in the Beach to catch the last few songs of Sam Taylor and The East End Love. Taylor has definitely converted me into a Blues lover and has become one of my favourite acts to watch. Drummer Jace Traz is as tasty as ever and bassoon player Jeff Burke shared the stage with Taylor.
Jeff Burke (in the background) and Sam Taylor
Sunday was Taste of Colombia in Oakville to see Alex Fisher and David Celia. The opening act, however, was an Open Mic guest from earlier that day. Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Kiara’s mouth opened and jaws dropped. Such a clear, pure soprano emanated from those vocal chords… her voice was such joy to listen to. Accompanied by her guitar, Kiara serenaded us with three songs. I was so gobsmacked by her voice I couldn’t tell you what the songs were. Following Kiara was Alex Fisher, the “new kid on the block”, who has just recently signed with Entertainment Music Group (EMG). A little bit country and a little bit rock, Fisher has a powerful voice that fills the room. He treated us to a number of original pieces. Fisher’s first CD, For Us, was released earlier this year and the songs are both fun and passionate. Innovative singer/songwriter David Celia closed the night with his beautiful guitar- playing skills and entertaining songs. Celia is well-known and respected for his expertise on the guitar as well as his spontaneity during his live performances. He is, however, as equally comfortable sitting down at the piano or blowing harp. His songs have an open alternative/folk style with a touch of Indie rock. Celia tours frequently across Canada and Europe, playing at a number of festivals such as Glastonbury (UK), Le Rock (France) and the Braedslan Festival in Iceland. Having played with acts as diverse as Icelandic alt/pop star Emiliana Torrini and Canadian folk legends Ian & Sylvia Tyson he is an extremely versatile performer. Celia has released a number of albums over the years, his most recent, “Double Mind”, in 2015.
L-R – Michael Williams, Jasmine Kiara, Alex Fisher, David Celia
Sad news again in the world of music and entertainment is the sudden and unexpected death of Bobby Curtola on June 4. He had a long and varied career starting with Bobby and The Bobcats in high school, becoming Canada’s first teen idol with hits such as “Three Rows Over” and “Aladdin”. He struck gold with “Fortune Teller” in 1962 and never looked back. Coca Cola came knocking at his door in 1964 and even television eventually called his name. His achievements include 25 Canadian gold singles, 12 Canadian gold albums, and the Order of Canada in recognition of his long service in the Canadian music industry and his humanitarian work with children’s charities.
Aladdin – Bobby Curtola
His passion to perform continued throughout his life but he saved his biggest love for his fans. During his 2015 Christmas tour, the day after losing “the love of his life Karyn” Curtola performed to a packed house in Peterborough. Always a believer of “the show must go on”, he felt he could not disappoint the audience. He continued to perform right up until the end, his concerts attracting legions of followers from coast to coast. Always smiling and gracious, he made time for as many as he could and remained connected to fans until the end. Curtola was not only a singing sensation but a man with big heart.
Three Rows Over – Bobby Curtola
At the Hard Rock Cafe….a new kind of “staging”
Such an integral part of Canada’s musical history, Curtola, whether directly or indirectly, paved the way for many young singers. Even his backup band in the late 60’s, The Ascots, eventually became Crowbar. He was one of the first Canadian entertainers to sign a long-term (five-year) contract in Las Vegas, eventually purchasing a home there, continuing to perform frequently in Vegas for 20 years. For many years he also performed on the Love Boat Cruises and a close friend Frank Zirone, had this story to tell. “Bobby was performing with his band on one of the Caribbean cruises I happened to be on with my wife. A musician and singer myself, I borrowed a guitar from one of musicians who does the rounds at the tables and started singing a romantic ballad, The Beatles, “If I Fell”, to my wife (it was her birthday). I faintly heard someone singing in harmony coming in from behind. The voice kept getting closer and closer and when I finally turned around, I realized it was Curtola himself. We finished the song together. He then proceeded to invite me to join his show that night. Funny and amicable, a performer who warmly included everyone”. I recognize there are thousands of “Bobby” stories circulating out there. He touched many, many lives both personally and professionally. This is just but a single reminiscence.
Pretty Blue Eyes – Bobby Curtola
On a personal note, I had only recently met Curtola through my good friend Sandy Graham, who worked with him for almost 30 years. Graham was not only his marketing manager but his confidante, they considered each other family. An unbreakable bond grew between Graham, her sons and Curtola (they grew up calling him Uncle Bobby) and his passing has left a large void. Cashbox Magazine Television (CMTV) had the opportunity to interview Curtola during CMW and this has now turned out to be the last interview he would give. I had the privilege of photographing Curtola on a number of occasions recently, the last being at the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto. Although I didn’t know him well he considered anyone he met “a lifer” meaning you were now a lifelong friend. I was fortunate to meet and work (albeit briefly) with a man who was not only a Canadian music legend, but a man who loved all those around him, a man who made everyone feel part of the “family” , a man who had suffered a deep and tragic loss, a man who loved life, a man who would always say, “when somebody asks you who loves you, tell them Bobby Curtola”.
Sandy – Bobby Curtola
All photographs by Pat Blythe, A Girl With a Camera “The Picture Taker”
YouTube, Wikipedia, CBC, Canadian Encyclopedia of Music
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!