Pat Blythe – Much Music, Pics and Other Stories…..
Baby’s got a new camera!!!! Chris’s camera finally bit the dust….shutter is stuck in the closed position, the “motherboard” is cooked. Ahhh….the digital age. ….and yet, his two 31-year-old “analogue” Nikons are in perfect working order. Complete with two motor drives, three lenses and a flash. Pop in a film canister and away we go. Planned obsolescence? Good question. Same goes for cars, major and minor appliances….just about everything we use today is all run by computer, and yes, computers run out of gas. That brain we call the motherboard, well….she just stops firing on all cylinders, or maybe, shoots off the wrong command. Her synapses aren’t synapsing (so to speak). I then found out today (being Tuesday) that digital cameras actually have an internal “odometer”. There are only so many pics that can (or should) be taken, then….sputter, sputter….you’re shooting on a wing and a prayer. Those aforementioned Nikons? Odometer? I think not. There is truly something to be said for analogue, vinyl, cassettes, 45s, my mom’s wash machine, stuff that was made to last a lifetime…..literally.
©A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” Design by Jain McMillian
No, it’s not garbage material, for purely sentimental reasons. Its second life….a bookend…. propping up the cookbooks Chris gifted me over the years, in the bookcase he built for them. That camera was his love, it rekindled my love for photography and has supported and carried me through to today. I am NOT getting maudlin….
Shameless plug for Downtown Camera…. My “camera guy”, Nick Forret, has been absolutely marvelous. His patience with “the crazy lady” is infinite. His knowledge and advice invaluable. He has saved my ass more times than I care to count. After collecting myself with a quiet, internal conversation and dollar signs dancing through my head, I asked about a refurbished camera (for now a brand spanking, hot-off-the-line, new one is not in my snack bracket). He went away and came back with his best recommendation. When I saw the price I could have kissed him (sorry Nick, I know you’re reading this) but I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I now have a more upscale model of what I had been using with extra batteries, a second charger, bigger display, slightly lighter in weight and of course my vast collections of two lenses fit. ….and her odometer reading….very low. I’m now going through the menu preparing her for her first shoot (with me).
A big smooch for Karl Anderson of AndersonCreative who immediately offered up the use of his gear for my Sunday night shoot. I was extremely hesitant to take him up on his offer but, insistent he was so, after a brief tutorial and camera set up to my specs, I was on my way. Now I’m considering holding it for ransom. All I can say is WOW! Nice equipment. Even Nick was impressed. However, I was so nervous taking it, I put an extra layer of bubble wrap in the bottom of my camera case….just in case. But that lens….oh that lens….. Now that’s trust.
So, on to the past week’s events. The weekend was smokin’ busy. When I was returning from a gig my niece was getting up for work. When she was getting home, I was sleeping. When she was sleeping I was heading out the door. Sometimes we’d manage to meet in the kitchen for coffee. Two ships that pass in the night….never a truer statement made. Now I must mention, my niece is a baker so she is working 3am to 11am. Gives you an idea of what my schedule is like.
The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues – Alan Jackson
Thursday was just a riot (not!). The vehicle needed to head to the dealership due to a recall on the transaxle oil pump (whatever the hell that is). Don’t care. Decided to get her fed and watered and the winter tires put on (in 17 degree weather) while she was in sick bay. I figured if I didn’t get the tires installed there would be an instant blizzard on the way home. Murphy’s Law, right? Yep! Now that I’m prepared it won’t snow until fucking January if I’m lucky. I’m still wearing my open-toed shoes in November dammit!!! Anyway, 3-4 hours turned into six by the time I got out of there. Rather than wait at the dealership, their shuttle dropped me off at the local mall. That was their first mistake. The second was mine…. nine bags of ‘stuff’ later, the shuttle picks me up but it’s still another hour wait until I can smoke out of there. I have a new rug in my bedroom and my soon-to-be new grand-niece (due this month) has an entire wardrobe that will take her through to next summer.
It’s Friday evening, November 4 and I’m heading to the Random House launch of Christopher Ward’s new book entitled “Is This Live?”. Thanks to Joel Goldberg, I have been designated the official stills photographer for the evening. (no pressure) Fresh off his show City Limits, Ward helped Moses Znaimer and John Martin give birth to, and nurture, this new (and very Canadian) baby named MuchMusic. What a force of nature it became. It was indeed the “video soundtrack” of the 80’s and 90’s, influencing an entire generation on both sides of the camera….the audience and the musicians. As I watched video history unfold on the big screen at the Royal Theatre, my very first thought was “oh gawd, did we really wear our hair like THAT?”
L-R – Master T, Denise Donlan, Laurie Brown, Ziggy, Christopher Ward, Michael Williams
Goldberg was our host for the evening. Set up in a corner of the darkened theatre, perched on director’s chairs lit with a single spot, Goldberg and Ward interviewed the various VJ’s who were in attendance at the event. (One of the more challenging shoots to date) Prodded for their own personal stories and special memories, Michael Williams, Master T, Ziggy, Laurie Brown, Kim Clarke Champniss and Denise Donlon where a few who took the saunter down memory lane.
The “man of the hour” Christopher Ward
Joel Goldberg in front
Pour your favourite drink or roll your favourite whatever and read up on all the tales and shenanigans of Canada’s very first TV/music station….best interviews, worst interviews, concerts/shows covered, road trips…. it plunks you right in the middle and makes you wish were still there. Put on your voyeur cap and hop on “the magic bus” for the ride. As the cover caption says, “inside the wild early years of MuchMusic the nation’s music station”.
Later that evening I headed over to Cherry Cola’s for Matt Groopie’s 30th birthday celebrations. A number of bands performed that evening including Blackdog Ballroom, Matt’s band The King Beez and Little Foot Long Foot. I was late in arriving but caught the last 30 minutes of The King Beez.
Matt Groopie performing with The King Beez
November 4th was also my mom’s 87th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!! Love you so much.
My mom with her first great grandchild Cameron
The following night was a surprise milestone birthday party for John Nye, arranged quite successfully, by his wife Cara. We all traipsed out to the Stone Cottage…. instructions were to be there before 8:30, Jon’s arrival time. Apparently Jon is not known for tardiness. Sam Taylor and The East End Love (David MacMichael/bass and Jace Traz/drums) were performing and as a special gift, Jon was invited to sit in with the band on bass for a few songs. He also performed with a couple of close friends, situating himself behind the drum set, donning Traz’s floppy summer sun hat.
The Birthday Boy Jon Nye. Nuzzling him…..the lovely Cara Nye
Sunday evening was spent at the Queen Victoria Pub attending The Rockin’ Winter Blues Series in support of Camp Oochigeas. Find out more about the camp here https://www.ooch.org/ Four stellar acts were on the menu including Susan O’Quinn, Sam Taylor, The Michael Schatte Band and The Charlie Jacobson Band. I had seen Schatte and Jacobson perform a number of weeks prior at The Rock Pile. This was the first time I had heard O’Quinn. A strong, pure voice she captivated the audience. She’s got that quiver in her voice that is reminiscent of someone but at the moment I can’t put my finger on who. (Buffy?) I thoroughly enjoyed her set and look forward to hearing her again.
On One Wing – Susan O’Quinn
Taylor performed a one hour acoustic set, much to the delight of fans who had come out to see him. Robbie Lane and wife Marilyn, long time friends of Taylor, also came out to show support. Schatte is a consummate guitar player as is Jacobson. All three gentlemen, a little bit country, a little bit rock, a little bit blues….different techniques, uniquely talented, individual approaches….fabulous musicians. It was a stellar night, the talent knocking it, as they say, out of the park. The food was deelish too…..
Back Door Man – Sam Taylor
Honey Doll – Michael Schatte
Chase Those Blues Away – Charlie Jacobson
That’s it for now. I’m late….so in closing…. a little Bobby Darin….for shits and giggles. Love this song.
Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
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!