Pat Blythe – Mixed Nuts…..


Laying low for the past several days and finally, the cold has been beaten down. Not too much cavorting around the club circuit this past week. However, there are a few things I’ve had twigging around in the back of my cranium…..

mixed-nuts-1A number of weeks ago I borrowed friend Karl Anderson’s gear for a shoot. We met up at Soundhouse Studios to pick up a DVD mix from a video shoot. Owner John Jamieson was doing some engineering and editing….in non-technical terms what I’ll call “fixing” of audio with the visual. The conversation of course turns to music, cover bands, the state of clubs in Toronto….you know, the usual. When Jamieson played the following video of a performance from the old Rock and Roll Heaven with his old band Rumbleseat, I had no idea I was about to hear the vocal acrobatics of his wife, Cyndi Richards. As a matter of fact, I had no idea she was a vocalist. I was spellbound, and so was the audience in this video. What an amazing performance! What was equally astounding….you could hear a pin drop. Not a single conversation is heard, not even breathing from the individual taking the video. People were LISTENING! Something they don’t appear to do a lot of these days (more on that later).

I am now a full time member of the Cyndi Richards admiration club. Remarkable vocal range and control. Wonderful!

Pink Floyd cover-The Great Gig In The Sky-Cyndi Richards and Rumbleseat-Live at Rock & Roll Heaven


Taking a Chance – Hazel Scott

Thank you Peter Montreuil for sharing this video on Facebook. What an absolutely astounding talent! Her hands are literally a blur as they seemingly fly over the keys on the piano.

hazel-scottHazel Scott was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1908. By the age of four she was residing in New York with her mother after being recognized at a very early age as a musical prodigy. She was offered a scholarship from the Juilliard School at the age of eight, was performing in a jazz band in her early teens, shared the bill with Count Basie at the Roseland Ballroom at age 15, and had her own radio show by age 16. Scott also became the “first person of colour” to have her own TV variety show, the short-lived Hazel Scott Show, featuring wide range of entertainers.

During her 40-year career, Scott was best-known as a jazz performer, both as a musician and singer. However, her involvement in politics was just as important to her. She was strongly committed to civil rights, particularly in Hollywood. Scott refused to take on stereotypical roles such as the “singing maid”, was insistent on final cut privileges and required control over her own wardrobe. On tour, she would refuse to perform in segregated venues.

hazel-scott-1She was an inspiration to civil rights organizations to “pressure the Washington state legislature to enact the Public Accommodation Act” in 1953 after winning a lawsuit in 1949 against a restaurant for refusing to serve Scott and her companion.

After testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era, Scott relocated to Paris when she struggled but continued to tour. She returned to the U.S. in 1967 to a world that was unappreciative of her talent and no longer valued what she had to offer. By age 25 she was an international star. By the time she died, October 2, 1981, Hazel Scott had faded into relative obscurity but continued to play in the last months of her life.

Black and White Are Beautiful – Hazel Scott

Okay, so I crept out for a couple of nights. Saturday was Horseshoe night. Five bands on the bill….Ten Sleep, Dress Black, West Hammock, Xprime, and Sea Perry. The dancing started with Kingston duo Ten Sleep and didn’t stop. By the time Xprime took the stage, the place, and the dance floor, was jammed. I ran into the aforementioned Peter Montreuil and both of us agreed all the bands were excellent, each one different from the other, a take on the pop/rock genre but each one a great segue into the next, merging together to put on an outstanding show. I will confess here and now, I did not stay to hear Sea Perry. My time was promised elsewhere.


L-R –  Stephane Garneau-Monten, Brendan James, Colin Mercer


Justin Ross (Dress Black)

Four-piece Indie band Dress Black got together in 2014. These guys had the place jumping with their style of rock. Here’s how they describe their sound, We love indie musicians like Phoenix, Foster the People & Bon Iver; we had a certain attraction to that sound when we first started collaborating. The male falsetto vocals added a unique flavour to the indie sound, and we layered our love of Motown, with its heavy presence of bass and simple, yet unique, disco drums, on top. We also loved the melodic structures of The Beach Boys and the gang-vocal styling’s of The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. We mashed all of these elements together and found a sonic direction that felt exciting and new.” Another band that can harmonize….vocals are so important. Comprised of Brendan James (guitar/vocals), Stephane Garneau-Monten (guitar/vocals), Colin Mercer (bass/vocals) and Justin Ross (drums/vocals), the band started with just two. Garneau-Monten, originally from Auckland, New Zealand and Vancouver-born James “connected over a shared passion for music and songwriting”. They later teamed with Mercer and Ross for live performance. Both Montreuil and I were, shall I say, more than suitably impressed.

Weekend – Dress Black

Oshawa-based band West Hammock were on next. Their FB page describes them as a “a blend of summer pop meets indie folk.” Another memorable performance by another band I had never heard before. West Hammock released their debut album, The River, in 2014 and subsequently toured with The Strumbellas, crisscrossing Ontario. At the ‘Shoe, the dance floor was busy and the audience was clearly enjoying their music. However, trying to figure out the names of the players  was challenging at best. Their FB page lists three members, the videos show four members and yet another page shows different names (I think for the drummer or maybe it’s the bassist??) PLUS they don’t tell who plays what unless you start piecing some of the info together (if you have the patience to do that).


West Hammock — no guessing names…..

So, here goes….  Hunter Sheridan (vocals/guitar), Ryan Mead (drums), Sam O’Conner (bass/drums?) and Sean Thornton (keys). Their second EP, Wonderlust, was released this year and the band has now toured across Canada.

Gold (Chet Faker) – West Hammock

Anchors – West Hammock

….and then there was Xprime. The entire crowd surged forward as soon as this trio walked on stage. An extremely popular draw wherever they go, Phil Taylor, Steph Mercier and Neil Carson present their own brand of rock/pop that, along with incredible harmonies, (you should hear these guys a cappella) and great lyrics….well, they put on a hell of a show. Mercier, the human pogo stick, bounces and leaps from one end of the stage to the other….a man constantly in motion. The band is currently in town recording their next LP, due for release early 2017 under their new moniker, James Blonde. I’ve enjoyed having them bunk in at Chez Blythe and am seriously looking forward to the new album.


L-R – Neil Carson, Steph Mercier and Phil Taylor

Sunday, Dec. 4 was a return to Oakville and another show at Taste of Colombia’s El Salon. Michael Williams hosts a series of live events featuring both international and local artists in a small, intimate setting. The shows are informal, up close and personal, creating an instant connection between the performers and their audience. Jason Wilson and The Perennials performed and the concert was amazing….and yes, there was dancing.

Rehearsal – L-R – Jason Wilson, Dave Joseph, Andrew Stewart, Zaynab Wilson, Perry Joseph, Marcus Ali 

 Jason Wilson and The Perennials — A pic with some of the audience members.

As I sit here and write this I’m listening to Phil Taylor play my drums and Steph Mercier on the guitar, “sound out” a new song. Just love it! Now it’s Neil Carson on guitar harmonizing with Steph. Listening the music, the interactions, creativity and harmonies….simple and simply done. To be surrounded by music is heaven to me.


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


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Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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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! 

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