Pat Blythe – Tributes, Sarah Smith, Indie Week and Robbie Robertson….


I will start by paying tribute to two remarkable artists. First a true Canadian icon and our poet laureate (in our hearts) Leonard Cohen on Monday, November 7 although the notice of death was not released until the day he was buried. Today (Sunday, Nov. 13), the news informs us of the passing of the unforgettable Leon Russell. Two legends (if I may use that term) in our lifetime that have shared a piece of themselves with all of us. Their minds and their hearts live on in the music and lyrics of our lives.


Somehow these two songs seemed appropriate…

Dance Me To The End Of Love – Leonard Cohen

A Song For You – Leon Russell (1971)

….and 40 years later….even more poignant and beautiful. Song begins at 8:07.

A Song For You – Leon Russell (2011)


Friday night, November 11 found me at Aoelian Hall in London, Ontario in attendance at the grand launch of Sarah Smith’s new album ’11’. Accompanying me was singer/songwriter/musician Sam Taylor along with my sisters Chrissie and img_5296-2Carrie. We had a blast! The show was sold out two weeks before the event. Unheard of for Aoelian. The rooms were jammed, drinks were flowing, the merch room was buzzing and the lineup went down the street. The concert area was chock-a-block with folks trying to find seating. Even the balcony was overflowing.


Jay Allan

Opening for Smith was a new act I had never heard of. Bothwell, Ontario native Jay Allan from. (Look it up on the map) A small town just outside of Chatham, Ontario, Bothwell was actually part of the estate of George Brown….yes he of Confederation, The Globe (now the Globe and Mail), de facto premier of the Province of Canada in 1858 during the Sir John A. MacDonald era, the “name” of George Brown College….and the list goes on. Sleepy, beautiful Bothwell has quite a history and, then, out steps Allan, a country singer/songwriter/guitar picker with a wry sense of humor, an ease on stage that belies his talent and sharpness….he doesn’t miss a trick. His website describes him as “honest and forthright with no sense of pretense”. I’d have to agree. One song in particular sticks in my head mentions luminaries such as Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and a host of others. It was a catchy and artfully crafted song, both lyrically and musically. I’m not Country’s number one fan but I thoroughly enjoy Allan. Taylor couldn’t help bopping up and down in his seat either and commenting on Allan’s skill on the six-string.

I must make note of Allan’s fiddler Craig Pierce. Wonderful fiddler and a perfect match for Allan.

The Wrong Direction – Jay Allan (release preview)


Sarah Smith

Of course, the main attraction, Sarah Smith herself, and her most fantastic band. Ken “The Zen” Ross on bass….he’s been performing with Smith since their The Joys days, drummer Bobby Reynolds, solidly pounding out the beats…..I actually got a smile out of him when he noticed my camera, and Guy Miskelly on lead guitar who calmly takes everything in stride. I’ve written a number of pieces on Smith and my “take” on her has not changed one whit. In fact, every time I see her live, it’s brand new experience. This time it was Adam Plante on keys, Christine Newland on cello and Laura Gagnon on back-up vocals and percussion. Smith is a accomplished performer and that night she and her band were simply on fire. Smith herself was in fine voice and moved around the stage, acknowledging many in the crowd, even dedicating a song to her wife Janine…. Tracy Chapman’s The Promise. Yes there were tears.


Bobby Reynolds and his smile

Another beautiful, heartfelt surprise, Smith invited a fan to come up on stage and propose to his girlfriend (she accepted). A request by the fan that evening just shortly before Smith took the stage. She was very gracious and happy to comply making that proposal an unforgettable night for that couple. Smith is so close, and very approachable, to her fan base I’m sure each and every one of them consider her “theirs”. Extremely protective and loyal, all artists should be so lucky. The following two pieces are from the new album.

Angels and Anchors – Sarah Smith

Undertwo – Sarah Smith

This clip is not off the new album…but it’s a favourite….

Runaway – Sarah Smith

Coming off a tour of Europe and England, Smith dove right in to the launch of her latest endeavour. So far “First Time” and “Girl” are my favourites. However, I have not listened to the album in its entirety (I forgot to grab a copy at the launch) but I will. I love her voice and her music.  Check out her website at


Indie Week launch party was last night (Nov. 15). My date for the evening was Veronica (Roxanne Tellier). We chatted with Dave Marsden of NY The Spirit, I ran into friends Jay and Michelle Gold (we have to stop meeting like this) and wandered around taking a few pics. Marsden, to paraphrase a quote from Wikipedia, is a Canadian radio broadcaster and the driving force behind radio station CFNY in the 1980s. Marsden became an influential figure in the music industry by giving many Canadian and international alternative rock artists major Canadian radio exposure. At CFNY he was known as “The Mars Bars”. He now runs his own radio station. I will be interviewing Marsden at a later date.

I wasn’t feeling on top of the world (still not) so Rox made sure I was out by 9pm. Quelle horror!!!! I’m never, EVER that early!! Also have the boys from Xprime bunking in for the week so all round, it’s busy. Xprime are in town recording their new album and I got the chance to listen to a few of the rough cuts.  It’s gonna be a good one!

P.S. My fridge is still on the fritz, one of my lenses has decided not to co-operate and has to be sent away for repair, I found a lovely dent in my bumper (someone in a parking lot somewhere….gutless asshole!), and this cold is dragging me down….and this column is LATE!!!! Have a lovely week folks….until next time…..


UPDATE….Since my column didn’t make the publishing date last week….my fridge was repaired last Friday so the beer (among other things) is now cold; the lens is now in sick bay while I borrow a friend’s for now; another nasty scratch on the vehicle was discovered; this unbearably nasty cold has now segued deep into my lungs and progressed to either bronchitis or pneumonia….AND I got to shoot Robbie Robertson today (Tues, Nov 22). Thank you to Sam Taylor for arranging and Robbie Lane for graciously allowing me to photograph before, during and after the interview with Robertson. ….and thank you Mr. Robertson.

Robertson has just released his latest book entitled “Testimony”. The interview with Lane was fascinating, and for me, could have continued for hours. His stories and insights immediately capture your attention. Robertson has a razor sharp memory going back to childhood. This becomes abundantly clear in the book laying many rumours, innuendos, embellishments and untruths to rest. He is painfully honest and forthright about The Band, Hawkins, his life and the music. Known as one of the best guitarists in the world, Robertson wrote the book entirely by hand….no computer, no typewriter. A testimonial to determination and strong hands. I enjoyed listening to him so much during the interview…..Christmas hint……


Robbie Robertson….interview time

The best part was watching the appreciation and admiration, but most of all the sheer delight that literally shone in Taylor’s eyes. Those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s listening to, or being a part of, all that glorious music…. those of us who soaked and saturated ourselves with some of the best music ever created, we are only now beginning to seriously appreciate what we lived through….and it’s not just nostalgia. To us it was just a part of our lives, a part we have become somewhat complacent about until fairly recently. It was such a wonderful thing to see all that through the eyes of a young, talented (and still remarkably innocent) musician, more the ready to give his all through his music, with his heart. Watching Taylor today was like watching a child at Christmas. I don’t think Lane could have provided a better gift for his friend.


L-R – Robbie Lane, Robbie Robertson, Sam Taylor

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



Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7“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 little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso 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! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Tributes, Sarah Smith, Indie Week and Robbie Robertson….”

  1. Barretta Music Says:

    An article I can/do Believe in, as well Comply with in its entirety !! . . From Bobby, to Sarah, to Ken, Jay, etc. . . Many I know personally, some barely but, the sentiments run just as deep with ALL ! . . I’m back @ Music after 40yrs. absence and Sarah is at the root cause for it ! Nobody should Ever question myself again for doing What I do as well as Why ! Congrats on an Epic eve. Sarah Smith Music !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: