Pat Blythe – Marsden, Mushy and Mod Night…..
I’m getting to this column a little earlier than usual. It’s a Monday night and one project has blurred into another today. The computer has captured most of my time along with a little redecorating. My friggin’ eyes are going square! One thing has been swirling around in my cranium today and it’s this, when are we going to stop “cutifying” and beautifying little girls because someone posts a really cute pic of one? It’s really starting to seriously bug me. The comments all focus on looks….and we wonder why females are objectified, dumbed down, not taken seriously….and the list goes on. ….and it’s not just the words themselves but the verbal intonations we use when talking to them as babies and toddlers. By the time these little princesses learn to walk, they’ve also learned how to use their tiny feminine wiles (oh yes, they’ve already figured out how to wrap daddy around their finger) to get their way. Damn, it starts early, waaaaaaay to early.
Now….I was taking care of a little one for a friend during the past two months. She is indeed a beauty. But what lies underneath all that cuteness and fluttering eyelashes….a strong will, incredible intelligence, an amazing memory, determination, an incredibly quick mind, a fascination with science (I love that) and math (that too). She is conscientious, has a vivid imagination, reads and writes (well prints), openly displays a love for music (which includes playing my piano, drums and guitar), holds an unceasing interest in everything going on around her and has an unwavering desire (at least with me) to be a fireman when she grows up….although astronaut is now a close running second. We chatted about the latter when I picked her up from school the last week. She wasn’t sure if girls were allowed to be astronauts but she would like to travel to “space”. I explained that if she put her mind to it, studies and works hard, she can be damn near anything she want to be, including becoming a lady astronaut. I then told her about Christa McAuliffe (not the sad part), Sally Ride and Canada’s Roberta Bondar. Happy with the knowledge that ladies can indeed go to the moon, the vocation of astronaut may overtake fireman any day now. What I’d like to know is who intimated to her that women can’t be astronauts. She is a ball of energy and curiosity and in later years will become a force to be reckoned with. How old is this little one… four!
My time with her is up for now although I hope she visits. She will grow up to be an amazing person, not just because she’s a little beauty, but because she truly is an intelligent and loving human being. We all lean towards commenting, promoting and catering to the superficial and not the core. I can be just a guilty as the rest and for me, it stops now. A lesson this little one has taught me well. You go girl!!!
Let’s go back to February 26…..there were two events that day. After photographing the Eric Mercury tribute, I headed northeast to Seven44 to catch up with friends and take in Robbie Lane & The Disciples. Guest artist this evening was none other than Sam Taylor who’s dad had driven in from Woodstock to watch him perform. The place was packed and happy feet filled the dance floor. Lane and the band always attract a large audience whenever and wherever they perform. Taylor’s set was amazing, he and the band were smoking. The Disciples are a well-oiled machine of experienced, talented musicians so when Taylor took the stage they were ready. Specializing in the music of the 50’s and 60’s they got down and dirty with Taylor’s specific take on the blue. Starting with “Rocks Off” and ending with “Honky Tonk Blues”, the amazing set had the audience screaming and whistling. My favourite was “Dock of The Bay”. In control and in the groove, Taylor’s love for the blues, new blues, any blues is evident in his voice and guitar playing as the music just takes him away.
Sam Taylor (l) and Glenn Hill (r) “leaning” into the music
Robbie Lane & The Disciples have a long history in this business we call music. Following on the heels of the defecting Hawks (who became The Band), Lane and The Disciples became Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band while still performing and recording under their own name. Lane went on to a solo career eventually reuniting with The Disciples. The current lineup includes Glenn Hill (vocals/harmonica), Joe Rigon (drums), Brian Fraser (keyboards), Steve Shelski (lead guitar), Joe Agnello (bass), Ed Zancowski (tenor sax), Phil Skladowski (baritone sax), Ewan Divit and Joe Allen (both on trumpet). The band is kept extremely busy performing at various clubs, events and private gatherings. Catch them if you can at Seven44 (the old Chicken Deli) on Mt. Pleasant in Toronto. You can see their schedule at http://www.robbielane.com. Tune into Zoomer Radio FM96.7/AM640 to listen to Lane’s show Monday to Friday from 6pm to 10pm as he salutes the artists from the 60’s to the 90’s. On Saturday’s at 6pm he hosts The British Invasion!
The “Brass Section”
Joe Agello (forefront on bass) & Steve Shelski (background)
Cousins! Robbie Lane (l) & Glenn Hill (r)
Fast forward to Saturday, March 4. I spent the afternoon preparing and packing up my equipment for a long evening split among three different venues which included one birthday celebration, Mod Night and a total of six bands. Dressed to rock and shoot, gear all charged up, I headed out the door a 5:30pm. First stop…..the Hard Rock Cafe on Yonge Street. David Marsden was celebrating his birthday in style, complete with the requisite feather boa and music supplied by NY The Spirit. Marsden was in excellent spirits drifting from table to table, ensuring he spoke to, and welcomed, everyone. A wonderful host! He finally got up on stage, telling stories from his radio days and introducing many radio “heavy weights” in the room. I believe he even pointed out Alan Slaight sitting in the audience. The yearly event, co-ordinated by his chat room, was attended by many from Marsden’s radio years. Unfortunately I had to leave before the festivities ended as I was already running late for the next stop. Thank you for the invite David. We’ll be talking soon.
The Birthday boy, David Marsden
I love a good belly laugh….David Marsden (l) with colleague and friend Geets Romo
…on to the music
Ahhh… the hallowed halls (and there are many) of the Phoenix Concert Club. With Mushy Callahan, Secret Broadcast, Luke Austin and Bleeker performing that night, my camera was going to be busy. I immediately ran into good friend Peter Montreuil (a huge Mushy Callahan and Secret Broadcast fan) as well as Jaimie Vernon’s lovely wife Sharon who was there to see Bleeker. The place was cheek to jowl, absolutely jammed, not just near the stage but right to the back. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen it so tight before. I planted myself stage left by the small bar and caught the last half of Mushy Callahan (yes I was late) and the entire set of Secret Broadcast. Not a lot of maneuverability but I managed. When Luke Austin’s set began I was beginning to eyeball spaces I could slip into without pissing people off. There was no way I could get from one side of the stage to the other without doing to serious damage to both my gear and the bodies I’d be wading through….so I pretty much stayed put.
Until…..some fellow, noticing my (dare I say) demure stature, offered to help. Where would I like to position myself to get a better shot? I thought he was joking and could he really do that? When he turned around to show he was “security” and then commented on his rather large size I grabbed my bag and went with it. He created a pathway through the bodies until he was satisfied I could see and get a clear shot, albeit apologizing to the crowd as he forged ahead. With one final check that I was in a good spot, he disappeared back into the crowd. The gentleman who ended up behind me was very gracious and we even chatted for a bit.
SHOUT OUT!!! So, I want to stop here and thank Stan Valade from the bottom of my heart, for seeing my predicament and offering to not only help but ensuring I was in a good spot, and safe. You sir are a credit to humanity and the company you work for (Northwest Protection Services). That was unbelievably kind of you and I must confess I was rather stunned for a moment when you first offered assistance. It was not at all what I expected. THANK YOU!!! Next time I take your picture.
Noah and Jacob (r) McCann
These Alberta-born, Toronto-based brothers of Mushy Callahan, Noel, Jacob, Lucas and Joel McCann, always put on a good show. This is the third time I’ve seen this Indie rock band. With a tinge of “country” influence, solid drumming with a driving beat and great harmonies, they give us music to hum by, music to dance by, music to sing by and great music to rock out by. They left the stage with the crowd screaming for an encore. Look for their new album out soon. To find out more, head to their website.
L-R – Peter Montreuil, Noah McCann, **fan, Joel McCann, Jacob McCann, Lucas McCann, fan
**This is the guy I ended up standing in front of when Valade made a spot for me in the crowd.
End of My Rope – Mushy Callahan
Shot Down – Mushy Callahan
Secret Broadcast took to the stage next. I have never seem them this alive! They were ON FIRE!!! Again from “out west”, originally from Calgary (is there something in the water out there?), the band released their first EP Hungry Ghost in 2012 and their first full-length album, Filthy Souls, in 2014. They have been in the studio recently working on their newest offering to be released within the next few months of 2017. Performing in a few small clubs, introducing songs from the new album, the Phoenix performance was full on rock show. With back-up singers and a horn section, these guys were ready to kick ass. I thought lead singer/guitarist Matt Lightstone was gonna bust out of his skin or at least take a giant leap into the crowd. The energy emitting from the stage was palpable.
Will Bennett and Matt Lightstone
Drummer Keith Heppler is as solid as they get. His drums and drumming just slams you right in the mid-section. He even makes a kids $100 drum kit sound good! Lead guitarist Will Bennett makes that axe of his just sing and his magic on the lap steel, well….. Curtis Harding on vocals, bass and keyboard….multi-talented, easily swapping out guitars with Bennett, taking on lead vocals for a few songs, rocking back-and-forth between bass and keys, his harmonies blending perfectly with Lightstone. Put them altogether on stage, these guys just hit it out of the park! The entire room went nuts!
Matt Lightstone (l) and Curtis Harding (upper r)
I love their take on this classic song! Waiting for the new album with great anticipation.
Everyday – Secret Broadcast (Buddy Holly cover)
This was first time I had been exposed to Luke Austin and his music. One message I must get across is….”this guy is not country!!”. Apparently many think he is….all rumours. Rocking out with the best of them Austin commands the stage, and thanks to Valarde, part way through song number two, I was front and centre. Toronto-based Austin and his band of very merry musicians including Kennedy Pollard, Bryan Swartz and Mike Ferguson tore the house down. I could feel the crowd surge forward with the first chord. From Austin’s website, “I write real songs for real people….it’s a shame these days to hear so little emotional connection from artists to the songs they are singing. That’s one reason my goal as a writer and performer is to connect with people…” He does that and more.
L-R – Bryan Swartz, Luke Austin, Kennedy Pollard
Old Friend – The Luke Austin Band
Long Road Home – The Luke Austin Band
Unfortunately I had one more stop to make and couldn’t stay for the end of Austin’s performance and missed Bleeker entirely (although I have seen them once before and again, another excellent band).
Opening act, Jack The Lads followed by Blackdog Ballroom with new guitarist Matt Groopie. Montreuil also made a last minute decision to accompany me across town to catch the fun at Cherry’s. We were welcomed by a packed room, a full dance floor and running into old friends….a fine way to end the day/night and close the club. The perfect finale. Owner Cherish Stevenson was in full “mod” regalia as was Michael Stanfield of Blackdog Ballroom. Mod Night….it’s fast becoming a tradition. ….and I do love to dance.
Michael Stanfield (shot from the far end of the bar)
…and that folks, ends another week of music in this fine MusicCity of ours.
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!