Pat Blythe – Thoughts, James Blonde, Sam Taylor, Nefe & A Choir

It’s a rainy Sunday and I’m supposed be working on piled up paperwork but another attack in England, this time on THE London Bridge has once again diverted my attention. The third one in as many months, I’m wondering exactly what these daft, obtuse thugs (I won’t give them the benefit of calling them terrorists) think they’re accomplishing?

Sure, they can use any excuse they want but specifically targeting innocent people in cities such as Paris, London, Manchester, Belgium, Germany, Kenya ad nauseam…..!!!???? It’s like an insidious disease for which there is no cure. It just keeps metastasizing like a cancer, spreading, picking and eating away at the easiest and most vulnerable parts. Nothing seems to be able to contain it. Retaliation in the form of more guns and bombs isn’t the answer. Neither is increased security. Things are so tight at airports and borders you can’t fart without getting stripped searched, x-rayed and tasered. We can blame Bush for popping the pimple and Trump for fanning the flames. But in reality we have only collective selves to blame. …and I’m not just referring to the “West”. I mean ALL of us. The human race has consistently passed the same intolerance, sanctimonious attitudes, arrogance, hate, entitlements, etc. from generation to generation, century and after century. Apparently we haven’t learned anything in the past 2000 or so years, so why should anything change? We’re still fighting the same battles over and over and over……just with bigger and better weapons.

Getting to the root(s) or cause(s) of the disease…, extreme poverty, food, displacement, acceptance, jobs, water, medicine, respect, health, a home, hope…..and addressing them collectively, not individually, we might actually mitigate some real changes. Addressed in silos only pokes at the issues (and pokes the bear). It doesn’t accomplish a whole hell of a lot, it just makes us feel better. Utopia? Not in this lifetime nor the next.

Road trip!!!

Packed up the vehicle, picked up my two co-pilots from their place of work, headed to the highway and came to a screeching halt. It’s almost 10pm at night and the highways are packed!!! Rush hour appears to have been extended by three hours! We’re headed two hours west. London, Ontario is our destination. Sam Taylor and Maia Van Raes were accompanying me for the late night ride as Taylor was performing at Fitzrays the following night. Once we managed to escape the city at a crawl, we actually made London in record time. Don’t ask. The women in my family are known for their lead feet. Just stay out of our way.

The Sam Taylor Band….Chris Haystead/drums, Alex Rudi/bass and of course Sam Taylor/guitar/vox….performed three rocking sets to a packed house at Fitzrays Saturday, May 27. It was like old home week for Taylor as friends and family poured through the doors to eat, drink and listen to some mighty fine music. The three friends hit their stride instantly, no rehearsal necessary. They pick up right where they left off, last week or last year. Opening up with an acoustic set allowed us to hear Taylor’s wonderful voice while Rudi and Haystead tastefully and subtly filled in the background. Originals and cover tunes, it was a memorable night for everyone. Taylor’s natural talent and proficiency on the guitar and in his voice is astounding for one so young. A prolific songwriter, he is at home on any stage, comfortable behind the mic, his love and passion for music blatantly showing on his face, in every note and in every movement. As I write this, Taylor turns 26 today, a young man experienced beyond his years. Truly an old soul.

L-R – Chris Haystead, Sam Taylor, Alex Rudi

Sam Taylor and Alex Rudi

Chris Haystead and Sam Taylor


Sunday afternoon it was my mom’s turn to shine. I’ve been listening to my mother’s rich and powerful alto my entire life. Singing in choirs, at weddings, always in the car and family gatherings (never professionally), mom’s joy of music shines in her eyes and her voice. I grew up listening to Harry Belafonte, Barbra Streisand, Glen Miller, even the Longines Symphony Orchestra. Now at the young age of 87, this may be the last year mom performs with the Cantorion Choir (formerly the Canadian Welsh Singers).

I was fortunate enough to be in town for the Cantorion Choir’s annual spring concert and fund raiser. According to the concert programme, the choir is a “non-auditioned group of men and women who come together for the love of singing. We sing for ourselves and for others and support young musicians, both instrumental and vocal. Activities include a spring concert, Christmas Cabaret, concerts and sing-a-longs in nursing homes and joint choral concerts.” Approximately 55-members strong, the choir was formed in 1981 by Welshman, Ken Jones, who was originally from Ruthin, North Wales. My mom joined 1995 and has enjoyed performing with them for 22 years.

Mom in the middle – Ann Thornton

I remember when the choir (at that time the called the Canadian Welsh Singers) were invited to sing in Poultney, Vermont. The town was named for William Pulteney, a British politician and the 1st Earl of Bath. The town of Poultney is famous for its slate, an industry that started quite by accident in the mid 1800s. Discovered in a farmer’s field, the first quarry opened in 1844. According to the Poultney Historical Society, in the 1850s demand for roofing material emerged. Slate roofs could last 100 to 150 years, if properly maintained. Processing of slate for roofing required special skills which existed in abundance in Wales. The Welsh had been mining and processing slate since 1399. Skilled Welsh workers immigrated to the “Slate Valley” in droves. They were motivated by the depressed economy, high taxes, lack of social mobility in Wales and the opportunity they saw in America”. In the last half of the 19th century slate became a major import from the region.

My co-worker and good friend Cathy Hart decided she could use a break so travelled along with me.  We had quite the adventure driving down and back. The trip took place just a few weeks after the fall of the World Trade Centre in 2001 and everywhere we drove, huge American flags were flying everywhere. While enjoying a drink in the local Poultney bar, several men sitting at the bar started pulling out their guns to compare arms. Our drinks disappeared mighty fast and we decided to skedaddle back to the hotel. The concert….it was wonderful. The hall was packed and the audience loved it.

More music……

On June 3 I headed out to Lee’s Palace to see James Blonde. I also ran into good friend Peter Montreuil who had also came to watch them perform. Another excellent show….songs off their new, self-titled album and, with a wink and a nod, a few “cover” tunes from a band called Xprime. Beautiful vocals, especially the harmonies. I love the new release, EVERY song. ….and I dare you not to dance!!!

Heartbreak – James Blonde

Sea of Hearts – James Blonde

Another brand new song, this one by singer/songwriter/musician Sean MacLean. Brick By Brick and its accompanying video was published by his new project, Waves That Stray. A beautiful, poignant, almost haunting piece celebrating the lives of the people of Toronto inhabiting the West end. Individuals from all walks of life dance, pose, smile and play, drifting in and out, performing for the camera. It’s beautifully shot with the photographer capturing the unique qualities of each person. The editing is outstanding. You can’t stop watching and it makes me smile.

MacLean has written an exquisite piece of music, and together with the video, it is a beautifully crafted work of art….”brick by brick, stone by stone, I just can’t find my way home. I hold myself into the night. I tell myself it’s going to be alright.” Click here  to listen to and view the video. With over 241 FB “shares” and well over 25k views in just under two days (and it’s not even on YouTube yet!), I think MacLean may have a hit on his hands.

Sean MacLean performing at Supermarket

Originally from Newmarket, Ontario, MacLean is the nephew of the late Kenny MacLean from Platinum Blonde. Obviously musical talent runs in the family. MacLean opened for Secret Broadcast a few months ago at the Supermarket. This was the first time I had been exposed to his music and I enjoyed his performance immensely. Waves That Stray will be celebrating the release of the video with a party at Cherry Cola’s on June 9th, 2017.  Be there!

Nefe performing at the Cameron House during CMW 2016

Another artist I have been quietly following for well over a year, 22-year-old Sarah Jea Felker, from Guelph, Ontario. Stage name…..Nefe. I first heard Nefe perform at the Cameron House in the back room during CMW 2016 and this is what I wrote, “Nefe has a very rich, soulful and expressive voice that can be easily heard, reaching out and grabbing your attention instantly.” I would add powerful and distinctive but with a languid, relaxing feel. This young woman has captured and kept my attention for quite some time. One of these days I’m going to catch her live again. I’m looking forward to it. Here’s her new song and video.

Skin – Nefe

We All Need Love – Nefe

….and finally, 17-year-old Tyler Simmons. I came across this video in my FB news feed. I can’t remember who posted it but it stopped me in my tracks. The song is about a young mother who has just given birth. Her baby is fine but she is not and has been told she has five minutes to say goodbye to her newborn child. I have no idea how Harry Styles (No Direction) came up with either the idea or the song but it’s emotional and powerful. Simmons does a beautiful rendition. Great vocals! I’ve connected with Simmons on FB and will be heading to the Piston July 25 to hear him live. I’ll keep you posted.

Sign of the Times – Tyler Simmons (Harry Styles cover)

In closing….Maia Van Raes posted this in memory of a friend who was killed in a car accident eight years ago. He took his eyes off the road for a brief second to answer his cell phone. Need I say more…… Scientifically proven as THE feel good, make you happy song (I actually wrote about this last year) Don’t Stop Me Now was also my birthday theme song for many years. A friend would call me and put the phone up to his stereo and play it for me. Hungarian Peter Bence performs this piece (with a dash of BoRap) magnificently on the piano.

Peter Bence – Don’t Stop Me Now



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! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Thoughts, James Blonde, Sam Taylor, Nefe & A Choir”

  1. Column well put together. Enjoyed it very much. Interesting facts on Poultney I did not know . Thanks for including it .
    Love, Mom.

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