Pat Blythe – HOME


I was introduced to a young lady several month ago at Cherry Cola’s. Her name is Sally Shaar. We chatted for a while….I can’t even remember if I gave her a business card…..shared a bit of information about each other (she found out I wrote for DBAWIS and I found out she was a singer in a band) and eventually we parted company.

Gingerale and…


Cherry Cola’s is busy even at the quietest of times and when I’m there I’m typically shooting. Then she tracked me down on Facebook, inviting me out so see the band a number of times. Unfortunately timing didn’t jive. So now…

…The Monowhales…

…have just yesterday (Tuesday, August 16) released a video of their brand spanking new single Home.

Gingerale & The Monowhales

L-R – Holly Jamieson (keyboard), Jordan Circosta (drums), Zach Zanardo (guitar), John McKinnon (bass), Front – Sally Shaar (vocals)

I love it! It struck a chord with me. An ode to Toronto or anywhere we call home. It pays homage to the city we love to complain about. But take a look around you and Toronto has something to offer anyone. If you’re bored…(well, my mom once told me only boring people get bored), Gingerale & The Monowhales have crafted a beautifully lighthearted, fun, upbeat, inspirational look at our metropolis, creating a song and video that is simply a joy to watch and listen to. I had a Facebook chat with Shaar yesterday and this is what she had to say about the song. Essentially, we wanted to write a love letter to the city of Toronto and make a video to match! The song itself is from the perspective of someone who’s dealt with hardship but has reached a turning point in their life, and is ready to come back “home” – whether that be a physical place, a community, or just pure self acceptance! The video itself is a bright and sunny journey through the best day you can have in Toronto. The whole band grew up in Toronto and the video showcases all the landmarks and activities that we’ve grown to associate with our beautiful city.”

Home – Gingerale & The Monowhales

MonowhaleI couldn’t resist and had to ask where the name of the band came from. Shaar’s response. The first half of the band name comes from the fact that our music is sweet and bubbly! Carbonated and charismatic is the name of the game! The “monowhales” part came from a piece of graffiti that used to be painted onto a bridge in Toronto’s east end. It was a whale wearing a monocle and we loved it so we decided to incorporate it into our name.” I actually remember that painting.

Home’s outlook is reminiscent of The Parachute Club and their hit single Rise Up, which was also shot in the streets of Toronto in the early 80s. Home brings back the same feeling of exuberance, joy and endless possibilities.

Rise Up – Parachute Club

Musical notes….

CaptureIt has indeed been a busy seven days since the last column. My mom was here from London visiting for a few days; I’ve been working with good friend Jain McMillian on my new websites, Luvthemusic and A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”. McMIllian has been amazing in designing and prepping everything. ….and really, let’s be honest here…..she’s doing most of the work. Neither of the sites are ready for prime time yet but I am so excited and can’t wait to share. I’ve had a few people review it and so far all have been very positive. In the meantime, there was The Carpet Frogs in Aurora August 10; Blackdog Ballroom, Barlow, Gracie and Tomi Swick at the Horseshoe Tavern August 11, Moscow Noir EP release at Lee’s Palace August 12 and Sarah Smith with Ken Ross and AHI at Taste of Colombia El Salon August 14.

August 10….

The Carpet Frogs are a band I love photographing. You could say “nice buncha guys” and you’d be right. They have fun on stage, even in the sweltering, humid, sticky, “I want to rip my clothes off and jump in the nearest puddle”, kind of heat. I can’t imagine being a drummer playing in the kind of weather Toronto, and most of Ontario, has been experiencing lately. However, the dance patio was packed with happy hoofers, from the very young to the not so young, willing to sweat it out and waltz (or boogie) down memory lane. The Frogs have been from one end of Canada and back again more than once this summer, their only GTA dates being the Toronto Craft Beer Festival and Gage Park in Brampton. It was a blast climbing all over the stage fencing looking for different angles with my brand new lens and, I’ve finally managed to capture Gerry Finn. The elusive Mr. Finn has not been available to play the two previous dates I shot. Got ‘im in Aurora. Here are a few of the results. The Frogs will be back again at their annual CNE gig Sept 4 & 5.

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The elusive Gerry Finn

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Gerry Finn and vocalist Nick Sinopoli

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L-R – Gerry Finn, Sean Fitzsimons, Nick Sinopoli, Jeff Jones, Michael Zweig

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This little lady was learning from the  “young at heart”

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Full house (with their backs to us are Michael Zweig (l) and Jeff Jones (r)

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Intermission….young mime dancers. These young girls from a local dance school were excellent!

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Nothing better than a happy drummer — Sean Fitzsimons

August 11….

Heading down to Queen St. West and the ‘Shoe. August 11 was the album release party for Barlow’s The Fire and they had invited Gracie, Tomi Swick and Blackdog Ballroom along for the ride. The place was jammed. Testament to the quality of the performers and fab performances on stage. Barlow’s show was powerful and power-packed. The four-time Juno Award nominee kept the full house rocking and yelling for more.

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Tom Barlow (centre)

Awake – Barlow (from the album The Fire)

Walk Away is several years old, released in 2003, but the lyrics….more meaningful today. The self-titled album, Barlow, was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the 2004 Juno Awards. Barlow himself was nominated as New Artist of the Year the same year.

Walk Away – Tom Barlow

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Gracie opened the show

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Dylan Weller, photographer at large

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Tomi Swick

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It was a hot night….even the guitars were sweating…..

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Michael Stanfield and Hayley of Blackdog Ballroom

Friday night August 12 and the release of Moscow Noir’s new self-titled album. I arrived at Lee’s Palace around 9:30ish. On stage was an EDM DJ whom I initially thought was part of Moscow Noir. After listening for 1.5 hours, my head was throbbing and I recognized he was not part of the band. I realized by piece number three, or maybe it was four (they all blended together and I refuse to call it music or even tunes) the same “drumbeat”, and what sounded like sampled hand-clapping, was used as the backbeat for every single “dance” number. I call it “thumpa thumpa” music and it’s okay if each piece is relatively unique. In this case I found what was happening on the screen behind him far more interesting than the sounds emanating from the equipment on stage. I make no apologies…. knob-turning and poncing around on stage with the occasional shout out in the mic does not the music make. I love to dance and I love great dance music but throw in a few musical notes. If today’s songwriters wrote every song with precisely the same backbeat… after song after song….I think my head would explode….oh wait….it just did!

Moscow Noir finally took the stage next and I really enjoyed their performance. The band is a blend of genres but are referred to as “electronic rock” (hence my confusion when I first walked in the door). Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Lesther Gutierrez, his brother Sylain Gutierrez who doubles on bass and keyboards as well as providing backing vocals, drummer Steve Rice, guitarist Mike Formusa (who’s Tom Petty shirt I loved) and Richard Gillespie on keyboards, are a solid lineup of musicians. The Toronto-based group was formed by Lesther Gutierrez, a former broadcast designer for CTV who is the driving force behind the band. Writer, composer, producer, singer and lead guitarist, all of the material was created by Lesther BEFORE he put the band together. Self-taught in the areas of production and recording, he began experimenting with electronic sounds and has managed to produce a wonderful blend of both types of music that is danceable and easy on the ears. Influencers are Joy Division, Radiohead, Moderat and Muse. After listening to Moscow Noir live, I much prefer that “version”. They had the place packed and moving on the dance floor. Stars, a cut off their new album, certainly keeps me bopping around my ground floor. Moscow Noir’s music may not be to everyone’s taste but hey, it’s great to dance to…..and that’s very important.

Stars – Moscow Noir

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Opening act….?

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Lesther Gutierrez

….and finally, to close off the week (or start a new one)….Sarah Smith on August 14! Based out of my hometown of London, Ontario, I always look forward to seeing Smith perform and make a point of catching her performances every chance I get. Along with bassist Ken “The Zen” Ross, Smith tours right across Canada and throughout Europe frequently. Smith’s joy in her music is apparent and infectious. She’s the consummate entertainer with a whole lot of heart and soul and it’s evident in her songs and her smile. Her new album will be launched November 11 at Aeolian Hall in London. If you have the opportunity to hear Smith with her full band, don’t pass it up. Come to think of it, don’t pass up any opportunity to see Smith…..period.

Undertow – Sarah Smith

AHI opened for Smith and immediately captured the audience’s attention. He’s just completed recording his self-titled debut album in Nashville. Official launch date….September 23. With Bob Marley as his inspiration and armed with a single guitar AHI performs his brand of Indie Soul in front of audiences all over the world. A passionate man, this is reflected in his music, his lyrics and his voice, which has been described as “gravel on silk”. He has been recognized by Rita Marley herself — his version of Marley’s song “No Woman No Cry” appeared on Bob Marley’s official social media pages. This version with his young daughter has captured hearts all over the world.

No Woman, No Cry – AHI (Bob Marley)

….and off his new album….

Drought – AHI

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AHI and Sarah Smith….sound check

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L-R – AHI, Ken Ross, Sarah Smith perform Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”

That’s it for now. DBAWIS will be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. We all need a little vacation. My next column will appear Wednesday, September 7. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Stay safe!

Remember, home is indeed where the heart is.


All Black and White photos by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” 2016


Vents Magazine, Toronto Star, YouTube



Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7In “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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