Pat Blythe – Summertime Blues and Jazzin’ Around….

I’ve started a “reminder” page and called it “column ideas”. Not sure what the point was since I never follow it. There’s always something else that catches my eye….or ear. Lately I’ve had the attention span of a gnat. In fact…, never mind. It’s been a busy seven days, just not sure what the hell I’ve accomplished short of pissing off CRA and a couple of telemarketers, oh, and changing passwords on damn near everything….one of my lesser brilliant moves. Now I can’t remember how to log into anything. So, jotting down reminders (and new passwords) on scraps of paper. High security, that’s me!

On another note….and another bit of paper…..EVERYONE knows my alcoholic thirst-quencher of choice is gin, Bombay Sapphire in particular. I found an article in my local paper, Beach Metro News, called “You Are What You Drink”. And so, the headline catching the attention of this particular gnat, I quickly scanned it to find out about my favourite beverage. Edward Finstein, known as The Wine Doctor and author of the article, covers domestic beers, craft beers and imports. Wines of course….red, white and rose. Then there’s the “hard” stuff. “Whiskey drinkers are usually authoritative, strong and discerning. Vodka sippers care about fashion, their appearance, are opinionated, independent and like being in charge. If gin is your tipple of choice, you supposedly are a realist, appreciate comfort and security, are interested in relationships and focus on family and home life. In other words….mature! Rum drinkers are another story. According to the research, they’re creative, experimental, slightly eccentric, impulsive, enjoy art and jazz. When it comes to tequila, wild and free seems to be the norm. You may be outgoing, talkative and fun and love to party.” ….and there’s more. To read the full article click

….and really, this time, I promise….NO MORE SNOW!!!!

I decided to get my sorry ass out last Friday, April 7. One of those nights when you just don’t feel like moving, but move I did. Gary Topp (one half of the famous/infamous The Garys) has been arranging “No Cover Events” at various venues throughout the city for the past several months. Topp was the key organizer of the benefit show for Freddie Pompeii of the Viletones, bringing together many of the performers who were at the forefront of the punk rock scene in Toronto. (remember The Last Pogo filmed at the Horseshoe?) This time he brought Stephanie Nilles to Duggan’s Brewery. The Rolling Stone quote describing Nilles as “Ella Fitzgerald on speed kicking the shit out of Regina Spektor” did more than just pique my interest. I had to get out and her hear for myself. One of the best decisions I’ve made. A petit sprite with serious bedhead positions herself behind the keyboard and begins to noodle around on the piano suddenly breaking into a song. The first name that popped into my mind was Eartha Kitt. Nilles voice oozes deep, raw, down-in-your-gut emotion. An earthy sexiness and that almost kitteny “Kitt” voice (with the Kitt purr/growl) combined with some of the maddest keyboard skills I’ve ever seen.

Stephanie Nilles @Duggan’s Brewery

The small, intimate downstairs performance “listening” room was a perfect setting for Nilles. She draws you in almost immediately. Every song a story and you don’t want to miss a word. Lyrics contain, acute, no-holds-barred descriptions and observations about day-to-day life, core feelings cut to the chase. “Love me or I’m gonna kill you babe…. I will kill you dead” Do not piss this woman off! A mesmerizing performance that captivates the audience to the last note. Funny, sharp, witty, biting, dark, a great storyteller, Nilles’ passion for her music is palpable and it just pours out of her.

Love Me Or I Kill You – Stephanie Nilles

This from AudioSuede,“….possibly the most compelling jazz piano/lounge punk singer since Tom Waits started chain smoking and singing about sailors. With a voice that manically switches from sultry soul to wild yelping…”

Egyptians Are From Egypt – Stephanie Nilles

Born in Chicago, relocating to New York where she began writing, Nilles now resides in New Orleans and it’s clearly apparent how deeply this unique city has shaped and touched her writing, both lyrically and musically. Classically trained, I call her style New Orleans rolling jazz. It just seemed to fit. Nilles has performed across North America and Europe and has self-released five full-length albums — reDemo (2008), The Off-White Album and Waltzes In the Key of Gypsey McGee (2009), Fuck Off Grizzly Bear (2011), ….Takes A Big Ship (2012) and her most recent, Uncle Stephanie’s Murder Ballads *For Kids! (2015). Her comment on eking out a living playing music was one of the best I’ve heard. “If you’re poor you know you’re doing something right.” If you get a chance to catch this woman live, don’t hesitate. Her voice is still inside my head.

Bait and Switch – Stephanie Nilles

The following Sunday I attended another special afternoon performance featuring David Gogo (yes that’s his real last name) and Sam Taylor. Maple Blues Award winner, Guitarist of The Year in 2002, 2004 and again in 2017, as well as Blues Recording of The Year in 2012 for Soul Bender, Gogo began playing when he received his first guitar at the age of five. Ten years later he was persuaded by none other than legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan to focus on a career playing the blues. Born and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Gogo is the cousin of Trooper keyboardist Paul Gogo and singer/songwriter John Gogo.  Currently signed with independent label Cordova Bay Records, he has released at total of 15 albums including his first self-titled recording in 1994.

Gogo has met, played and toured with a who’s who of  blues and rock musicians throughout his career including Johnny Winter, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Robin Trower….the list is endless….and the stories…..he has some great ones. I have never listened so intently to a blues player such as Gogo. I’m a rock and roll baby at heart although I didn’t pay much attention to genres growing up. I listened to what I liked without realizing I was “liking” the blues a long time ago. Thanks to Taylor, my love and appreciation for the blues deepens almost daily.

The Hands of a Master on His Resonator

I was mesmerized by Gogo’s performance. I’ve never heard someone of his calibre that up close and personal. Between photographs, I kept watching his fingers. Jeezus…..! The concert took place at the Olde Stone Cottage Pub which has an amazing upstairs room, seating approximately 55 people. It was a sell out! What a wonderful location for a show such as this and the sound was perfect! At the risk of sounding either ridiculous or repetitive, I’m going to use a few quotes from the media….and I agree with all of them.

“….Texas-style guitar-slinger Gogo is equally at home with both heartfelt ballads and groovin’ blues rockers. Reminiscent at times of Johnny Winter and ZZ Top – only Gogo sings better” — Adrian Chamberlain, Victoria Times-Colonist. “I doubt there is another blues guitarist around at the moment who speak through their instrument quite like David Gogo can. This is music that demands attention and respect in an age of disposable pop covers. Modern blues at its best.” — Ken McGrath – Sorted magAZine, Ireland. “Gogos’s forte here is his searing attack that stays respectful (barely) but pushes things right to the edge.”Norman Provencher, Ottawa Citizen.

Storytelling time with David Gogo

Time Is Killing Me – David Gogo

Dinner and a Song is a concert series that appears to have been around for a while. Dinner and a Song pays homage to great music in and around the GTA but focuses on the more easterly confines of the city, primarily Scarborough, an area with a severe music drought. Here’s a brief description from Dinner and a Song’s website, “’Dinner and a Song’ is an exciting new music series being supported by the Rotary Clubs in Scarborough as part of the Arts & Culture component of their Scarborough Renewal Campaign. Dinner and a Song is also sponsored by TD.
The goal of “Dinner and a Song” is to make Scarborough and Guildwood a more interesting place to live and do business. We hope to accomplish this by building grass roots support for a singer songwriter & recording artist music scene in Scarborough, and at the same time support local restaurateurs!” 

Cuts Me To The Bone – David Gogo

L-R – David Gogo and Sam Taylor

This was my first introduction to Gogo thanks to Taylor who was the opening act. Speaking of which, Taylor slayed it. His performance easily won a brand new audience’s ears and admiration, gaining new appreciators of his talent and music. His CDs now reside in many new homes. This particular audience was comprised of serious blues aficionados….no fooling around here and Taylor received high praise, including from Gogo himself. To find out more about Gogo and his touring schedule, click here

Whiskey Train – David Gogo

“I did a short European tour with Robin Trower a few years back and always enjoyed his playing. This goes back to his early days with Procol Harum and we tried to combine the original with a bit more 70s Trower on the back end. I cranked my Gibson SG through my Vox amp and some Fulltone effects pedals, including the Soul Bender…. full on guitar solo madness!!” ~ David Gogo

I leave you with this….!

I Want To Be Evil – Eartha Kitt

Some Upcoming Shows in and Around the GTA….

April 14 – Stop, Drop ‘n Roll, The Ballroom Babies

April 18-22 – Canadian Music Week (CMW), click here for club and band listings

April 18 – Adelaide Hall, The Danger Bees (9:30pm)

April 19 – Adelaide HallJames Blonde, Ivory Hours, etc. (start time 7:30pm)

April 20 – Velvet Underground, Courage My Love (10pm)

April 21 – Tranzac Club, Alzheimers Appreciation Orchestra and Chorus (6pm)

April 22 – Horseshoe TavernJulian Taylor Band (midnight)

April 28 – Showplace Performance Centre, PeterboroughONES

April 29 – Meaford Hall, Eddie Bullen and Coldjack

April 30 – Olde Stone Cottage, Tim Williams, Dinner and a Song, (2:30pm)



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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