Pat Blythe – The Chains That Bind plus Bits and Pieces

I’m going to sneak one in this week. I miss writing and Tuesday’s column by fellow writer Frank Gutch Jr. has motivated me. “War stories” of a different type….addiction…”the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.” (Oxford Dictionary) In this case, I’m referring specifically to “a particular substance”.

I watched and listened to the first video and couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my face. It touched a chord that I thought I, if not buried, had at least set aside. It became personal. Someone very near and dear to me, someone I love very much, suffers from addiction. A path not consciously chosen in the beginning but, once it became rather well-worn was impossible to deviate from. Even after the cries for help, clean periods and all the support in the world, nothing could save the drowning woman. So far down the gopher hole now the addiction is no longer recognized by the addicted. “I can quit anytime.” She is a single representation of the many who suffer from this disease, a disease that not only becomes the monkey on your back but you become the monkey. EVERYTHING changes, including the person you once were. Your brain makes sure of that.

The ripple effect doesn’t ever end, it just keeps spreading. When someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, it becomes a way of life…..for everyone, including the non-addicted. A “new normal” although I’m beginning to wonder what “normal” is? Maybe everything is and there is no “new” normal. It’s all just different. Just life. Just? Family and friends are affected, even if they don’t realize it. Addiction touches, and to a degree damages, everyone around them. Much has been written about addiction from myriad points of view but we are unable to do the impossible, get inside the mind of an addict. Yes, there is the physical, but it’s the mental, the mind, that really controls it. All those lovely little receptors floating around looking for a good time. We can’t splice open a brain like we can the rest of the body, discover the “bad part” and cut it out. Nope. It’s wearing the invisibility cloak. It’s the worst game of hide-and-seek ever and we are permanently “it”, ceaselessly trying to discover it’s hiding place.

According to Science News, “A lot of people think addiction is what happens when someone finds a drug to be the most rewarding thing they’ve ever experienced,” says neuroscientist George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Md. “But drug abuse is not just feeling good about drugs. Your brain is changed when you misuse drugs. It is changed in ways that perpetuate the problem.” The changes associated with drug use affect how addicts respond to drug cues, like the smell of a cigarette or the sight of a shot of vodka. Drug abuse also changes how other rewards, such as money or food are processed, decreasing their relative value.” To read the entre article click here.

What we really need to discover is the raison d’être for starting down that road. Loneliness? Lack of self esteem? Depression? A death? Puberty? What kick-started it in the first place? I don’t have the answer(s), only questions and whole lot of pain for that beautiful woman who has been a part of my life for almost 30 years….who came this close……..

Thank you Frank. To read Frank’s column about this special school in Texas. go here What a stellar idea!! At the risk of repetition……a beautiful song.

Just One – Matt Butler

Apparently March is theatre month. I’ve already written about Sousatzka. The next theatre experience was on March 17, the musical Mrs. Henderson Presents at the stunningly gorgeous Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. It’s absolutely exquisite….the theatre I mean. First time I’ve been inside. The evening event was courtesy of my eldest son Aarron and girlfriend Kirsten, their Christmas gift to me. My date for the evening was Marion MacLeod. A Scot from Isle of Lewis whom I met during my early telecom start, Marion and I have become fast friends over the years. She will be turning 80 this year and is a joy to hang out with. I found out a few years back that my nana was Marion’s Sunday school teacher at the Free Church of Scotland here in Toronto. (My mom’s side of the family are Scottish, Highlanders from the Inverness area). Marion and I started with dinner at N’awlins (yum) and a good yammer, then headed a block down King St. to catch the show. Judy Dench, Bob Hoskins and Christopher Guest starred in the movie so I was delighted to catch the live performance. It was a wonderful show and both Marion and I thoroughly enjoyed it….naughty bits and all.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (official movie trailer)

The third play this month was The Triumph of Teresa Harris, written by my cousin Penn Kemp. Kemp is a playwright, novelist, performance artist and sound poet and the daughter of well-known artist, the late James Alexander Kemp (forever known to me as Uncle Jim). She received her Masters of Education at U of T, was writer in residence for Niagara Erie Writers in New York State, Labrador School Board, Flesherton Library and SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. Kemp has produced numerous bodies of work, traveled the world and became London, Ontario’s first poet laureate in 2010.

So it was only fitting that Penn Kemp write the story about Teresa Harris whose family moved to London when her father, Royal Navy Captain John Harris was appointed treasurer of the London District. Teresa was born in 1839 and raised in Eldon House, a home built by her father. It is the oldest and most historic house in London, owned and occupied by the family for 125 years. The family donated the home as a museum to the City of London in 1960 with the rest of the property becoming Harris Park.

Harris was a delicate child with an indomitable spirit who grew into a very robust, healthy woman living a very non-conventional life during the Victorian era (sans corsets). Both her husband’s toured the world and she traveled right along with them. After her first husband John Scott died of typhoid on board a ship heading home from India, she married St. George Littledale, a man 12 years her junior (she was 35, he was 23). Littledale was a both an explorer and big game hunter and together he and Teresa traveled the world, journeying to places rarely seen by women including the Middle East, Tibet, Asia as well as Russia, Europe and North America. The Triumph of Teresa Harris, performed at the Palace Theatre, was sold out all three nights.

The yearly Rock The Park Music Festival is a huge four-day concert event held every year in Harris Park, a stone’s throw from Eldon House. Teresa would have loved it!

…and Now the Music….

The rest of March was spent catching the Taylor boys….Sam Taylor and The East End Love at Scruffy Murphy’s one night, The Linsmore the next night (March 18 & 19) and the Julian Taylor Band at Aoelian Hall in London the following weekend (March 25). The packed house at the Linsmore show was also celebrating a rather auspicious occasion, the birthday of one Shawn O’Shea….born on St. Patrick’s Day, 65 years ago. Spouse of fellow scribe Roxanne Tellier, legends and legions of the music biz folk crammed the pub to wish O’Shea happy returns, eat cake and dance to the new blues by Taylor and his band. Bob Segarini joined Taylor at the end of the night, serenading us with “Stormy Monday”.

L-R – Connor Maslen-Walsh, Jace Traz, Sam Taylor, Maia Van Raes

Roxanne and birthday boy Shawn

L-R – Connor Maslen-Walsh, Bob Segarini, Sam Taylor, Jace Traz behind Maia Van Raes

The following weekend I took my 87-year-old mother to her first ever rock concert and she loved it! The Julian Taylor Band performed for one night only and the place was rocking, the dance floor full and music just filled up the entire hall. The band was truly on fire, sounding so tight and “in the pocket” (as one says) the show was seamless, high energy….and they brought the sax players!!!! You couldn’t stop moving, sitting or standing. A standing O and encores later….Taylor and the band had the audience in the palm of their respective hands. London will definitely be having these boys back.

L-R – Jeremy Elliott, Gareth Parry, Julian Taylor, Yoser Rodrigues

Julian Taylor (Yoser Rodrigues in background)

Set Me Free – Julian Taylor Band

Opening act for JTB was PacanomadChantel Rivard (vox), Dave Ball (bass), Zack Stewart (drums) and Nick Cifaldi (guitar) — a young, London-based Indie rock/alt band with a rather eclectic mix of music. Together since 2012, the band released their first EP in 2014 with a new one set for release in 2017. Rivard’s voice reminded me of Postmodern Jukebox with a Lennon sisters 40’s twist with the perfect trill.

L-R – Nick Cifaldi, Zack Stewart, Dave Ball, Chantel Rivard

DreamChaser – Pacanomad

Coming Out – Pacanomad

…..and kudos to Aoelian Hall and all the volunteers. What an absolutely great stage to perform on, excellent seating everywhere (loved the tables at the front for this show) and fantastic sound. The hall offers two rooms right off the main concert hall for merchandise (left) as well as a separate area (right) with a fully stocked bar, yummy snacks, tea and coffee. There also have an elevator as the main concert area is on the second floor.

Friday evening, March 24, I headed to the popular London music hub FitzRays to meet up with Tara Scott and see Def Bombs. Scott and FitzRays are up for a couple of Jack Richardson Awards for Best Live Venue and Contributor. I wish them both luck. Scott got tied up but I hung out for one set of Def Bombs. Hard core rock ‘n’ roll cover band comprised of experienced solid musicians — John Patterson (vox), Chris ‘Shlep’ Caron (bass), Rob MacEachern (drums) and Jeff Kikut (guitars) —  performing Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, etc. who had the crowded bar rocking and the dance floor full of happy feet.

John Patterson of Def Bombs

Some Great Events Coming Up….

March 29, Lula LoungeFolk Music Ontario’s ICEBREAKER with Julian Taylor, AHI, Coco Love Alcorn

March 30, Placebo PlaceThe Alzeimers Appreciation Orchestra with Peter Kashur, Bob Segarini, Roxanne Tellier and guests

April 1, Olde Stone CottageSam Taylor and The East End Love

April 8, Toronto Centre for The Arts – Father & Son Dueling Pianos, – Eddie and Quincy Bullen

April 9, Olde Stone CottageDavid Gogo with guest Sam Taylor

April 18-22, Sheraton Centre and all over Toronto – Canadian Music Week (CMW)

April 19, Adelaide HallJames Blonde, Ivory Hours, The Balconies

April 22, Horseshoe TavernJulian Taylor Band

April 28, Showplace Performance Centre, PeterboroughONES

Yes, I am still getting out at night…..but that’s all for now!

….and this….slightly reminiscent of Marianne Faithful.

Infamous – Basia Bulat

Fool – Basia Bulat

Tall Tall Shadow – Basia Bulat



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! 

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