Pat Blythe – Canadian Music Week 2017….The Finale

Before I pick up where I left off prior to Bob’s computer turning into a brick, I shall sidestep a titch and segue, for just a moment, into sessions. Yes…those relatively educational, supposedly non-biased, informative, enlightening, seminars/panel discussions or summits, as CMW refers to them. This is the core stuff delegates are actually paying for when they purchase a ticket. I listed the several different streams one can chose from in last week’s column, so I shan’t bore you with the details here. However, suffice to say, there is loads of opportunity to learn as well as “button hole” and query those with a cumulative hundreds of years of experience, and educate yourself in everything that is the entertainment industry. From Mentor’s Cafe to SOCAN, from touring to ticketing, from writing, producing and publishing to understanding Indie labels and Indie rights….and that’s just the music stream.

But the reality is, we are all there to network….to connect whatever dots we can. It’s like the ‘gathering place’ of long ago. It’s a conglomeration of business and dreams and the folks on the ground floor who actually make it work. The meeting place for the go-getters, the ones with fire in their heart and under their ass; the cynics, believers and dreamers, the talented, the wannabes, the observers and the partiers. It’s the one single week where all the hullaballoo joins forces to make up all that which is CMW. ….and it’s rarely a week one forgets.

Music maestro please…..

I’m going to dive right in where I left off which is at Thursday night at the Phoenix. Whitehorse I had seen before but Amelia Curran and Tanya Tagaq…. I’m always up for something new.

Amelia Curran

Since dropping out of university to follow her passion, Curran has released a total of seven albums since 2000. The most recent, Watershed, released just a month ago. She has won a Juno, is consistently nominated in various categories by the East Coast Music Awards (and has won several), is both a playwright and an actor and is a fervent advocator of mental health issues, erasing the stigmatization and bringing about more support as well as educating the general public with a better understanding of mental health challenges. Unfortunately, I just caught the tail end of her show but I loved what I heard. I hope I have the opportunity of hearing her live again. Beautiful harmonies.

Watershed – Amelia Curran

Devils – Amelia Curran

Tagaq sort of flounced on stage in her special party dress (from where I was standing, I assumed she was far younger than her years….she’s 41) and so it was what came out of her mouth and the  viciousness in her voice when she spoke into the mic that threw me. “Don’t take any videos and no fucking pictures!” Ya, well…..that opener could have been much better handled. Six Shooter…..get on it.

Born and raised in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut on Victoria Island, Tagaq began throat singing around the age of 15. It is a form of musical singing that is unique to the Inuit in Canada and is traditionally done by women. Now what I know about throat singing you can fit on the head of a pin so I decided to do a bit of research. The technique is practiced in three different countries — Canada (by the Inuit), the rural region of Tuva in Russia near the Mongolian border and the Xhosa of Bantu origins (think Nelson Mandela) in South Africa. All three styles are unique.

Tanya Tagaq – image ©Mike Ford

From the Smithsonian website, “Throat-singing, a guttural style of singing or chanting, is one of the world’s oldest forms of music. For those who think the human voice can produce only one note at a time, the resonant harmonies of throat-singing are surprising. In throat-singing, a singer can produce two or more notes simultaneously through specialized vocalization technique taking advantage of the throat’s resonance characteristics. By precise movements of the lips, tongue, jaw, velum, and larynx, throat-singers produce unique harmonies using only their bodies.”

The Sounds of Throat Singing – Tanya Tagaq

Many of the sounds in throat singing require the full body to produce which explains much of Tagaq’s gyrations. The notes she emanated would move from eerie to mournful, the resonance sometimes eardrum shattering, then hushed tones so quiet you strain to listen, from gasping and grasping to heartbreaking. It was non-stop for 45 minutes. My ears are still recovering. Throat singing to me sides a bit more in the category of performance art and I didn’t see the need in the extra instruments. The only “instrument” necessary was Tagaq.  Although this is not the first time I have heard the Theremin used in public performance, on this occasion it was actually rather irritating as it conflicted and confused with Tagaq’s vocal acrobatics. Guitar and drums added nothing to the mix. I appreciate this art form and admire Tagaq’s skill as well as her determination to carry on tradition. There is not enough care in the younger generations to keep traditions going… any culture.

You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind) – Buffy Ste. Marie and Tanya Tagaq

On to Friday night and The Alzheimer’s Appreciation Orchestra and Chorus and a special dinner many of us look forward year after year. Twice in as many months we would once again have the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of Bob Segarini, Drew Winters, Peter Kashur, Hap Roderman, Kid Carson, Craig Roddick, Roxanne Tellier and our evening’s hostess, Annette Shaffer. For about 15 years now, Shaffer and friends have been entertaining audiences on Friday evenings between 5pm and 7pm in the front room of the Tranzac. Her “open mic”, Friday jams are popular and well-known and are both a haven and an outlet for those who just want to play or sing. Always gracious and welcoming, Shaffer invited the Orchestra in to share the time and space….all because of a single request.

L-R – Annette Shaffer (vocalist), Drew Winters (keys) , Hap Roderman (bass), Roxanne Tellier (vocals), Kid Carson (drums), Bob, Peter Kashur (guitar), Craig Roddick (lead guitar). 

Resident Vancouverite and our evening’s dinner host, Greg Simpson, was extremely disappointed he had missed the performance at the Placebo Lounge a few weeks prior, so it was decided they would get together once more when Simpson was in town. The place was hopping as many who had missed the Placebo show came to Tranzac in addition to others who were looking forward to the repeat performance. Simpson was a tad late (traffic was horrendous) but he got his concert. At 7pm promptly, I piled Simpson, a friend of his and Darrell Vickers into the vehicle and headed for Rancho Relaxo to chow down on burritos, steak, frittatas, tacos and all things Mexican. Donny Blais, who owns Rancho, came in to personally prepare our meals and they were DELICIOUS!!! Thank you once again for your great food and hospitality. John Rowlands was the “event photog” and captured many great moments.

L-R – Annette Shaffer, Hap Roderman rocking out in the background, Roxanne Tellier

L-R – Peter Kashur, Craig Roddick

L-R – Bob Segarini, Darrell Vickers

By 9pm, I had club acts to catch and so, accompanied by Vickers, we headed out into the night….first stop Cherry Cola’s to catch MÉNAGE. Cherry’s was jammed solid! Faces were smushed so close together it was impossible to even recognize anyone and I almost walked straight into my friend Oscar Anesetti who promptly guided me to the end of the bar to introduce me to his parents. Vickers was lost somewhere in the crowd. Alex Vincenzi, one of Cherry’s partners was working like a madman behind the bar but came around with a big smile on his face and welcoming hug. When I mentioned ‘my’ stool, he immediately headed downstairs to grab it. With the number of bodies crammed together it was challenging to shoot from the floor. I had a much better perspective from behind the bar, standing on the stool. Thank you, thank you Alex.

I’ve seen MÉNAGE before but only as a duo. Tonight they had the full band and Anesetti was performing with them on bass. A family band, the Ferreria siblings, sister Bela and brothers Gabriel and Basilio were already accomplished singers and songwriters in their own right before they decided to join forces and form MÉNAGE in 2012. Raised in Toronto’s Little Portugal, the brothers had relocated to L.A. while sister Bela was spending most of her time in Portugal.  The band now considers both Toronto and L.A. home while also keeping close ties with Portugal. A rather eclectic pop band with heavy rock influences, growing up they had been exposed to very diverse influences, from country to rock to ethnic Portuguese music and it’s reflected in their music.

Bela Ferreria

Oscar Anesetti

Our Time Is Now – MÉNAGE

Next on the agenda was the Horseshoe and Common Deer. This was a band I had judged at the Silver Dollar during Indie Week two years previous and I liked them then. Now, two years later they are tighter, more polished….definitely matured. Celtic influences along with beautiful harmonies, multi-instrumentalists oozing musicality….real keys and synth and the inclusion of classical instruments is wonderful. There are more and more bands doing this and why not? There is nothing sweeter than a real violin or as deeply throaty or solid as a cello or a stand-up bass. While Vickers was keeping an eye on my gear I was moving around taking photos. Tyrone, one of the security guys (he’s been at the Horseshoe for as long as I can remember) was kind enough to plow through the crowd to get me to the front of the stage. He also invited me behind the barrier so I could get some shots of the band from the side. Thank you Tyrone. In the meantime I think Vickers was taking some pics and videos of his own.

Sheila Hart

Graham McLaughlin

Here’s their promo piece from CMW, and I have to say, I agree with it. They are called Common Deer, but this band is anything but common…one musician jumps from vocals to violin to guitar while another moves from guitar to electric cello, or steps over to the synths and drum machine. This is done so seamlessly in a single song that it’s truly a well-rehearsed game of musical chairs. Few musicians could pull off such a thing without awkward gaps, tripping over cords or distracting the audience, but Common Deer – Graham McLaughlin (vocals, violin, guitar), Sheila Hart (vocals, keys), Adam Hart (cello, guitar, synth), Liam Farrell (percussion, synth, samples) and Connor Farrell (bass) – are exceptional multi-instrumentalists, and this becomes part of their engaging set. Add to that the unique fact that of the five bandmates, two sets are siblings.”

Confession (I Should Have Known) – Common Deer

That ends the Friday night. Vickers is staying with his sister (he’s in Toronto from Santa Monica visiting family) in the Beach area so I drop him off home, head to my tiny abode, toss my gear down and head for bed. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday is the Music Nova Scotia Tiki Lounge event at the at the Rivoli. Replete with mussels, scallops, the best clam chowder this side of anywhere, lobster rolls and so much more, all flown in fresh with the cooking crew…..and yes, there is music. This is an yearly event meant to showcase musicians from the east coast. I took my girlfriend Jessica as my date and met up with Roxanne who was already well ensconced when I arrived. Ten acts performed although I did not stay for all of them. David McMichael and his band The Danger Bees performed and I also managed to catch Hello Delaware and The Town Heroes. Thank you Music Nova Scotia for graciously hosting yet another successful event.

I Never Asked – Hello Delaware

The Thought Police – The Town Heroes

Dana Beeler from Hello Delaware

Photographing the photographer at the Music Nova Scotia event (bass player Tori Cameron in the background)

It was a very short jaunt down the street to the Horseshoe to see the Julian Taylor Band. Eddie Bullen was meeting me there as I had persuaded him that JTB was worth the drive from Markham. Bullen whole heartedly agreed and purchased a copy of the album Desert Star at the end of the set. Julian and band were so on top of their game that night they simply blew the roof off the place. Taylor is a master front man and explodes when he is released from the guitar. The entire band is one very well-oiled machine but Taylor’s performance took them to a new level that night. His love for music is on full display in his movements, his face and the way he reaches into the crowd….the dreads were flying and the hat ended up on the other side of the stage…. It was an extremely passionate, powerful performance and the vibe in the room was electric.

L-R – The hands and guitar of Gareth Parry, Julian Taylor, Yoser Rodrigues bass

Drummer Jeremy Elliott

Gareth Perry

Julian Taylor

Next festival in the headlights, SING! Vocal Arts Festival. It runs from May 23 to  May 28. If you love music and you love a cappella this festival merges some of the best in the business. There is nothing more sweeter to the ear than perfect harmony and our own Roxanne Tellier will be performing with Lorraine Segato and company at O Canada! The Golden Age of Pop on May 25.

…..and I’m still not over this damnable cold!!!!!


My little calendar of events…..

May 4 – Lee’s Palace, Jack The Lads, A Fellowship

May 6 – Danforth Music Hall, Rival Sons (Teatro Fiasco tour)

May 11 – Grace Church-on-the-Hill, Ensemble Vivant

May 12 – The Pearl Company, Hamilton, Eddie Bullen and Liberty Silver

May 12 – Horseshoe Tavern, The Damned Truth

May 13 – The Linsmore, Toney Springer (Wild T & The Spirit)

May 13 – The Record Vault Vinyl Sale, Scarborough

May 25 – Jane Mallett Theatre, O Canada! The Golden Age of Canadian Pop w/Lorraine Segato, part of the SING! Vocal Arts Festival

Every Wednesday @ The Inter Steer, Fraser/Daley

….and the festivals

SING! Vocal Arts Festival – May 23-28 Music Festival – May 27

Luminato – June 14-24

NXNE – June 16-25

TD Toronto Jazz Festival – June 23 – July 2

Afrobeat Festival – July 8-9

Beaches International Jazz Festival – July 24-30

Electric Island – Summer Music Series – May 22, July 1, August 7, September 3&4

TURF – Dates TBA

Indie Week – Dates TBA

Bestival – Dates June 9 & 10 unconfirmed


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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