Pat Blythe: Keeping the music alive…one “note” at a time
It has indeed been a busy summer for everyone. 2016 has been a peculiar, curious and rather dramatic year. A year of extreme change, upheavals, death, excessive busyness, new connections, sheer stupidity, life transformations and adjustments — nothing has been minor. It’s all been “in our faces”, screaming and shouting at us, begging us to take notice, pleading with us to address whatever is coming at us. I think many will be glad to see the back end of 2016 and look forward with hope to 2017. No, this is not a ‘year-end’ column, just a bit of reflection on the summer that seemingly whizzed by and all that happened in just that short timeframe.
…..and so it begins….the recap of the past four weeks, two weeks at a time. I actually had to refer to my calendar and write out a list in chronological order to figure out exactly what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been going. My synapses are not always firing on all cylinders sometimes (shush) and with so much activity…. I will stop here and apologize in advance to my esteemed editor right now for all the pics that are about to come his way….
August 19…..The Rockpile
Accompanied by Sam Taylor and his lovely lady Maia, I headed west to catch Gene Pool. Good friend John Jamieson, owner of Toronto-based Soundhouse Studio (and where Taylor has done much of his recording) plays keyboards in the band. A five-piece rock band, Gene Pool was born in the summer of 2014 beginning with lead guitarist Gene Scarpelli along with bassist Chris Brown and lead singer Joe Vilardo. The three then enlisted Jamieson and drummer Karl Anderson. First-rate musicians, Gene Pool released their first EP/CD, Evolved, in 2015. If you get the chance, get out and show them some love. Find out more about this Toronto band here https://www.facebook.com/GENESPOOL/
Gene Pool – L-R – Gene Scarpelli, Chris Brown, Joe Vilardo, John Jamieson & Karl Anderson
Surprise! Special guest appearance by Gino Scarpelli (Goddo). Father and son perform together — L-R Gene Scarpelli, Gino Scarpelli
It’ll Be Alright – Gene Pool
Opening act was Nikki’s Wives and we arrived it just in time to catch the last half of their show. Formed in 2015, this three-piece ensemble comprises Nikki Whitehead (lead vocals), Dylan Lazon (lead guitar and keyboard) and Nate Baylor (drums). Whitehead has been singing and recording since the age of 12 so is no stranger to the stage or the studio. Classifying themselves as alternative pop, their set was provocative and high energy. For more info http://nikkiswives.com/.
Lonely Being Cool – Nikki’s Wives
A few days of telecom work and back to The Rockpile to see Wild T and the Spirit with Toney Springer. A night of blues with side dish of Jimi Hendrix. I must say, Wind Cries Mary is my favourite Hendrix song. It’s always a pleasure to see Springer. A consummate musician and entertainer, he has a wicked sense of humour and is a wonderful story teller. There isn’t a guitar out there he can’t make sing. Formed in 1990, Wild T and the Spirit, with a few changes, are still going strong 26 years later. Springer took a break in the late 90’s, performing in Chicago with a number of different blues artists. After returning to Toronto, the band picked up where it had left off and, with the current lineup, bassist Guenther Kapelle and drummer John Bouvette , Wild T continues to engage audiences coast to coast.
August 27 found me at Cherry Cola’s to celebrate (and photograph) my esteemed editor’s 71st birthday. An intimate gathering of friends and general ne’er-do-wells, we were entertained by Sam Taylor and The Downtown Love (bassist Matt Swift and drummer Karl Anderson) and fellow blues guitarist Frank Cosentino. Writer and songstress Roxanne Tellier (Veronica) joined the crew on stage and serenaded us with my favourite version (Rox’s version) of Stand By Me. We ate popcorn, drank our faces off and woofed down birthday cake. I drove half the band home and then sat up talking to a friend for three hours. For more photos go to https://www.facebook.com/pblythephotos/photos/?tab=album&album_id=564577667047930
L-R Peter Kashur, Peter Verity, Barbette Kensington, Roxanne Tellier, Robin Campbell, Peter Montreuil, The Birthday Boy, David Rourke and Sandy Moore
Roxanne and Sam
Peter Kashur holding Pippi Longstocking’s (Bob’s daughter Amy’s) braids
L-R – Matt Swift, Sam Taylor and Karl Anderson
L-R – Bob Segarini, Sam Taylor and Bob’s grandchildren Matilda and Marshall
Cheers! Peter Kashur and Bob belly up to the bar
Sean Patrick Armstrong & Mary Ann Mahar
The Downtown Love – L-R – Matt Swift, Karl Anderson and Sam Taylor
L-R – John Gallagher, Robin Campbell, Bob, Frank Cosentino, Sam Taylor
Dude! Frank Cosentino
With barely two hours sleep under my belt, I made my way down to Kew Gardens in the Beach to assist with logistics for the Beach BIA parade for our Olympians. The young lady who won gold in the women’s 100m freestyle swim, Penny Oleksiak, is from the Beach. After the parade wound its way into the park, speeches made, etc. etc. I did what every girl would do….I went and got my nails done….with a very large coffee in hand. Later than evening found me at Taste of Colombia with Michael Williams hosting AHI and Sam Taylor. What a stellar evening of entertainment! Based on that introduction, AHI has enlisted Taylor’s guitar-playing skills to perform with his band for his record launch at The Music Gallery on John St. Toronto, September 23. A lasting friendship has been formed. They complement each other beautifully. More on AHI’s debut album, We Made It Through The Wreckage in next week’s column. Check out the this one minute clip from yesterday’s rehearsal. Gorgeous! https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/wmtw2016?source=feed_text&story_id=10154262579370379&qsefr=1
Sam Taylor and AHI
In amongst all this, a project near and dear to my heart finally launched on August 25. Cashbox Magazine Television’s trailer is now out on YouTube and is being distributed worldwide by Believe Digital. I am proud to be a partner in this with Sandy Graham. An idea worked out on a napkin, we had just over two weeks to put it together. Sleepless nights, early mornings and copious amounts of caffeine later, we did it. Nineteen interviews over two days at CMW 2016. We were fortunate enough to chat with Gordon Lightfoot, Andy Kim, Eddie Kramer and of course Bobby Curtola. As well as Julian Taylor, Gord Deppe (Spoons), Sam Taylor and Danny Marks among others. They shared stories, music and laughter with our hosts. Major, major kudos goes out to Dennis Saunders who worked absolutely ridiculous hours to make sense of a mishmash of recording formats and put everything in order. He is a miracle worker! Take a peek.
Cashbox Magazine Television Trailer – Trailer Preview
August 29….Beach Celtic fundraiser. August 30 dinner date and babysitting….all at once! Love my munchkins! September 1 interview with Julian Taylor, Jeremy Elliott and Dave Engles of the Julian Taylor Band at the office of Aporia Records. New album, Desert Star….official release date, October 7 at Lee’s Palace. Definitely one of my favourite recordings…..ever! A fantastic collaboration of beautifully crafted songs on double vinyl. Of course I’ll be attending the launch and will be filling you in on all the happenings. My interview with Julian et al can be found here…. http://cashboxcanada.ca/7575/julian-taylor-band-desert-star
Set Me Free – Julian Taylor Band
Photograph of Julian Taylor by Mike Ford
…..and in closing
Babysitting Amy’s munchkins Tilda and Marshall, up in their favourite spot in my home….the loft.
I write this column for the love of music, for the love of writing and for the love of those who create and perform the songs we are all so bloody fond of. Without music our lives would be incredibly mundane, boring, monotonous, mind-numbing, and for me personally, intolerable. …and quelle horror….what would we dance to!? The entire animal kingdom (think whales, dolphins, birds, frogs….) has had music in its life, in one form or another, since time immemorial. Like the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat, the physical and verbal contact we have with each other….we literally cannot live without music. Not the thumpa thumpa kind but the “good stuff” with honest musicality to it….the “real” kind with strings and horns and drums and guitars and keyboards and even the humming that goes on inside our head. …..and the voices….oh the voices!! (No, not those voices! The singing voices.) We need the people who write it, create it, arrange it, produce it and, most importantly, execute all this wonderfulness on stage for our ears and feet and brains and hearts to enjoy. We need the Mozarts and Beethovens, the Julian Taylors and Mushy Callahans, The Xprimes and Ballroom Babies, the Sam Taylors and Blackdog Ballrooms, the Gingerales (and her Monowhales), the Secret Broadcasts and Gene Pools, Nikki’s Wives and Alex Fishers, Nefe and AHI….the list goes on. STOP expecting something for nothing. Don’t be so goddamn lazy and cheap. Get out and support your musicians, singers, songwriters…troubadours all. Show them your love. Or are my sails just flapping in the proverbial breeze?
Imagine if they all went silent.
Sounds of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
“People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sounds of silence”
– Simon and Garfunkel, 1964
All photos except those noted by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”
Sources – YouTube, Wikipedia, my somewhat scattered attention to detail (I’m workin’ on it)
Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.
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“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence — 33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!