Pat Blythe: Solstice, Petty and Beer


The days are just flying by and we’ve already reached the longest day of the year. Now the days start to get just a teeny, tiny bit shorter but we don’t start to notice it until sometime late August….it just kinda creeps up on you. And so the cycle continues. I contend the longest day shouldn’t be until summer is over but that’s a discussion I need to have with Mother Nature and quite, frankly, I think she’s a little pissed with how we’ve been treating Gaia. I’ll hold off for another day


View of the Heel Stone at summer solstice sunrise, as seen from inside the Stonehenge monument. 

Solstice and the Strawberry Moon …. It’s the longest day of the year giving us approximately 17 hours of light. The word solstice comes from the Latin “solstitium” meaning “sun stands still'”. The sun stops heading north at the Tropic of Cancer and then returns back in a southerly direction thereby shortening the days. This year is special because the Summer Solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence happening approximately every 70 years. The Strawberry Moon is a full moon occurring in June and the name is believed to originate with Algonquin tribes who used it to mark the start of strawberry season. Over the millennia the worldwide interpretation of Summer Solstice has varied among cultures and in one way or another typically revolves around themes of religion, renewal and fertility. Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England, is one of the world’s most popular destinations to celebrate Summer Solstice. It is a beautiful and majestic site. These giant stones stand silently, almost as if they are reaching upward towards the sky, a quiet testament to man’s deeply held beliefs. Now roped off to the thousands of tourists that traipse the paths around the stones, I was fortunate enough to actually walk through site unhindered. It is an overpowering feeling. The prehistoric monument, built around 3000BC, aligns to both the summer and winter solstices. For summer, followers gather to watch the sun rise over the Heel Stone, its rays eventually reaching the middle of the standing stones where they shine on the central altar.  For Winter Solstice, usually around December 20/21, gatherers watch as the sun sets in the midst of three great stones known as the Trilithon. For this year’s Summer Solstice the English Heritage-run site is expecting around 20,000 celebrants.


Winter Solstice — the sun setting through the Trilithon

The music of Tom Petty…. What a blast!!! Beautifully done by all the performers, each one sharing their interpretations of Petty’s songs and making them their own. The Tom Petty trbuteartists were asked to choose two songs they would like to present (first come, first serve). No song was performed twice. I have no idea who received the first phone call but the songs they chose seemed to perfectly suit the individual performers. It’s always a joy to watch and listen to singers and musicians you already know but it was a particular delight to hear those I’ve never heard before. Surprisingly, I would hear one act again on Sunday as a full four-piece. Hosted by Jory Nash, the evening was opened by the Mississippi Bends from Hamilton. Julian Taylor, David Celia, Sam Taylor and The East End Love, Ivy Mairi….the list goes on. It was an entertaining night and the audience was happy to contribute their voices as well. Unfortunately, Michael Wrycraft, who is the originator and host of the event, was unable to join us. Nash stepped up to the plate beautifully. Once again, thank you Jane Harbury for having me as your guest.

…and now for some tunes….

Free Falling – Tom Petty

Refugee – Tom Petty

Yer So Bad – Tom Petty

…and a few pics….

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The Mississippi Bends

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Julian Taylor

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Ivy Mairi

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Jory Nash

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Sam Taylor and The East End Love (drummer Jace Traz in the barely discernible background)

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David Celia

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The Redhill Valleys

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Kelly Prescott & Curtis Jaffe

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The Finale

Beer, Beer, Glorious Beer….

Craft Beer

It was time once again for the Toronto Craft Beer Festival. The suds were flowing and beginning at 12:30pm, the bands were playing. Food, games and a very, very, very (I could keep going………) very, very hot sun. The entire festival took place in a hotel parking lot, a rather large stretch of black asphalt and shade was a scarcity. Those that found it weren’t willing to give it up. According to the website despite assurances that the event site at Exhibition Place would be fully operational well before the festival, we were informed that the original site would not obtain an occupancy permit in time for the festival due to unforeseen construction delays. Though it was difficult to find another venue this late in the season, we didn’t want to let down our charity Second Harvest, the 2000 craft beer lovers who have already bought tickets, and all the registered breweries and other vendors”. I’m not sure which was creating the most sweat, the hot flashes or the outside temp of 35C+.

Hot Hot Hot – The Merrymen

The festival was busy all day on Sunday with busloads of people streaming through. I arrived at 1:30pm to catch Gene Pool. Friend and studio owner John Jamieson plays keyboards and I wanted to get some shots. The band is comprised of three generations of rockers including Gene Scarpelli, son of Goddo guitarist Gino Scarpelli. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize there were no in-and-out privileges and so was stuck “inside” all day. Long day too! Since I don’t drink beer I had purchased a “designated driver’s” ticket and so parked myself in the Designated Drivers’ Lounge (and I use the term “lounge” very, very loosely). At least it was out of the sun. Every once-in-a-while I’d venture out to take pics and then scuttle back to my seat before I turned a too-bright shade of pink.

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Gene Pool – L-R – Gene Scarpelli, Joe Vilardo, Chris Brown, Karl Anderson, John Jamieson

After Gene Pool, Glass Ampp took the stage. A rock/blues band from Maple, Ontario, the four-childhood friends have just released their fourth EP entitled In My Head. Check out Glass Amp at Next up was a band I had heard at Hugh’s Room on Friday night. Folk/rock group The Redhill Valleys hail from Hamilton, Ontario and the trio, bass player Chelsea McWilliams, lead guitar Danielle Beaudin and drummer Tim Allard were joined on stage at the festival by pedal steel guitar player Kevin Neal. The three core members all take turns singing lead and the harmonies are wonderful. Pleased as punch to listen to, and watch, a “lady bass player”. Bass is my all-time favourite stringed instrument. I had lovely chat with McWilliams’ mom who was busy recording the show, and after exchanging business cards, have agreed to keep in touch. This is a band I will continue to watch out for. You can check them out at

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Glass Amp – L-R  Gianluca Mauro, Steve Poretta, Anthony Ascenzi, Steve Piersanti

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The Redhill Valleys – L-R – Chelsea McWilliams, Tim Allard, Danielle Beaudin

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Kevin Neil

To close off a gloriously sunny, summer day……The Carpet Frogs. A different “version” once again. No Michale Vassos and no Gerry Finn. Michael Zweig was soloing on guitar duty that night. These guys finally got the audience (and yours truly) dancing. I ended up kicking off my shoes to sashay and cavort around the tarmac. Hot, sticky and sweaty is how the evening ended. By the time the band played their last number I was drenched and looking forward to a cooling shower. There is nothing like dancing to the oldies and although there are certain songs they don’t (or won’t) play, The Carpet Frogs live up to their reputation as a living jukebox. You can find out more about The Frogs (as I call them) at The weekend ended as it should, dancing the night away.

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The Carpet Frogs – L-R – Vic D’Arcy, Nick Sinopoli, Jeff Jones, Sean Fitzsimons, Michael Zweig

In order of appearance….

It’ll Be Alright – Gene Pool

(Filmed and recorded at Jamieson’s studio Soundhouse Studio)

She Don’t Want You – Glass Ampp

Wrong Way Turns Out Right – The Redhill Valleys

P.S. That shower….turn it on, amp it up and the top head blew clear across my lovely new shower stall. Shit!!! Almost brand new too. Pfister are on it!

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All photos by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”

More photos can be found at my Facebook page


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-buttonIn “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 workedpblythealongside 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!

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