Pat Blythe – Beautiful, Mariposa and ONES….

As I sit here ruminating on what should appear on my screen, I listen in silence to clacking on the keyboards and the chirping, binging, ringing and a kind of swishing/chiming sounds of messages coming in on various devices. Colleen and my sister Chrissie are busy standing, or perched on a chair, at my kitchen peninsula working away on their various gadgets and pieces of equipment. I am stretched out in my usual writing position on the couch with the fan keeping things comfortable.

The morning was spent running around the city dealing with the detritus that had accumulated in my backyard. Prepping for an my very first summer BBQ has started and is going to take the better part of the week (the prep that is, not the BBQ itself). Curtains closed against the bright heat of the sun, fans going, air conditioner in place, maybe I can get some writing done…….maybe…….

Last week I had the opportunity to see Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, covering King’s early life up to the release of Tapestry and her performance at Carnegie Hall. It was a WONDERFUL show!!! Two glorious hours well spent listening and learning about the songs of the past that are now part of our present. One of the most prolific and successful songwriters of the 20th century, King began her career at the age of sixteen. She sold her first piece to music publisher Don(nie) Kirshner who owned Aldon Music, housed in the now legendary “Brill Building”, home of King, Gerry Goffin (whom King married), Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and so many other songwriters of the day. Kirshner, known as The Man With The Golden Ear launched the careers of both singers and songwriters. His ability to ‘hear’ a hit and match the song with the appropriate singer or group was renowned. I’ve always associated Kirshner’s name with his TV series, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, never with the Brill Building. It wasn’t until I saw Beautiful that I tied it all together. Always learning……

The show was superbly choreographed and skillfully put together, each vignette of King’s story segued perfectly into each song. By the end of Act II I began to realize that all the songs on Tapestry are really the story about her relationship with Goffin, from You Make The Earth Move to It’s Too Late. I had no idea King and Goffin wrote one of Aretha Franklin’s biggest hits, You Make Me Feel Like Natural Woman. In fact, there were a host of songs I didn’t realize King wrote, some with Goffen, some without. The really “beautiful” part of the evening, everyone left with a smile on their face.

I Feel The Earth Move – Carol King

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles

Take Good Care of My Baby – Bobby Vee

A Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees

Locomotion – Little Eva

One Fine Day – The Chiffons

The birthday boy…..David McMichael

Headed to Relish last Friday to celebrate friend and Danger Bee David McMichael’s birthday. McMichael is all of 35 which, according to some is “old”. If he’s old, I’m friggin’ ancient and I certainly don’t feel old enough to be there yet! What is it about the numbers? Who the hell is counting anyway???? By the way, owner Joanne Clayton and her staff made THE BEST poutine EVER in honour of McMichael’s birthday, all washed down with a lovely G&T (Bombay Sapphire of course) followed by special, homemade birthday cupcakes. Sam Taylor jammed on stage with the band and the place was packed with friends in a celebratory mood.

ONES…..

 

The better part of Saturday afternoon was spent sitting in traffic on Highway 400 as Colleen and I literally inched our way to Parry Sound. Only during the last few kilometers did the vehicle manage to get up to the speed limit. Most of you who ride with me know that is incredibly, oh so very sloooooow…. Gorgeous day. Couldn’t have asked for better weather to sit in traffic (dripping with sarcasm here).

ONES was performing at the Stockey Centre, right on the water and I was due for sound check at 5:30pm. Made it just in time. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Band along with The Penny Lane Strings and The Pepperland Horns played to a sold out crowd. Squeezing room only. I’m going to stop right here and ask a question. “Why do Canadian audiences need verbal permission to physically display enjoyment? Are we too polite….self conscious….?” It wasn’t until the end of the second act, after producer Frank Zirone encouraged the audience to get up out their seats and dance, the crowd virtually flew out of their chairs and started shimmying and shaking around. I was standing to the side of the stage behind the band and it was as if a fire had been lit under hundreds of cheeks, simultaneously. I was laughing so hard I almost forgot to take a picture. The multi-media production had the audience laughing and cheering (just don’t dance) throughout the show. It’s all about The Beatles, their number one hits from 1964 to 1969 and  the behind-the-scenes stories, all presented through visuals and of course, their music….and special Canadian connection. To find out more about ONES go here http://www.onesshow.com/

My view at intermission

Twist & Shout – The Beatles (Ed Sullivan Show)

Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles

Monday was dance class….a little Electric Slide, a little Continental, a little Cha Cha….and excellent workout.

Mariposa…..

I’m sharing a post about the Mariposa Folk Festival a friend of mine wrote on her FB page. It’s her yearly pilgrimage, rarely or never to be missed and it’s one festival I’ve never attended. One of these days….. It’s not the only festival to hit a few snags along 55+ years in action so here’s a bit of background on this venerable festival…..yep, another history lesson…..

Mariposa celebrated its 50th birthday in 2010 which now makes it 57 years old this year. Conceived by Ruth Jones, a 33-year-old mom of four living in the small quite town of Orillia, the first festival was a two-day affair, (future festivals ran for one and three days) held in Oval Park in Orillia. “We went to hear John Fisher, he was known as Mr. Canada. One of the things he said was that every small community should have a hook to hang tourism on. I put that together with the fact that I loved to go to folk festivals in Toronto, and I thought maybe Orillia needs something to wake it up.”

Mariposa Trailer

It was purely an all-Canadian event featuring artists O.J. Abbott, Jean Carignan and Alan Mills, the Travellers, Jacques Labrecque and Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker. A non-profit, volunteer organization, the festival was called Mariposa, a pseudonym used by Stephen Leacock for the town of  Orillia in his book, Sunshine Sketches of A Little Town. Unfortunately, three years later the festival was relocated to Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto due to unruly festival attendees who decided the party was more important than the music.

Early Morning Rain – Ian & Sylvia

For several years the festival bounced around various locations — Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto in 1964, Innis Lake 1965-7, Centre Island (part of the Toronto Islands) 1968-79, discontinued in 1980, revived in 1982 at Harbourfront and by 1984 was back again in the Orillia area at Barrie’s Molson Park. 1991 saw it back in Toronto at Ontario Place as The Festival of Roots Music, then on to Olympic Island (again part of the Toronto Islands) from 1993-5 and by now mired in debt. 1996 saw it split into two festivals, one in Bracebridge and the other in Cobourg. Mariposa in Muskoka was now a single-day event by 1997 and by 1999 had diminished to a free event in the Parkdale area of Toronto. Mariposa needed a shake-up. In 2000 it was back in Orillia as a three-day event thanks to two city councillors Tim Lauer and Don Evans and local musician Gord Ball.

Some of the hundreds (if not thousands) of artists who have graced her stages in include a who’s who of Canadian talent and artists from around the world. Rita McNeil, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Buffy Saint-Marie, Barenaked Ladies, Leonard Cohen, Murray McLauchlan, Neil Young (surprise!), Bruce Cockburn, John Allan Cameron, The McGarrigle Sisters, James Taylor, Bob Dylan (who was not on the bill but showed up anyway) in 1975 and 1976, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Doc Watson, Buddy Guy, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal and so, so, many more.

Lovers In A Dangerous Times – Barenaked Ladies

The Swimming Song – The McGarrigle Sisters

Wondering Where The Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn

Although the festival has featured major headliners throughout the years, the mission statement remains the same. “The promotion and preservation of folk art in Canada through song, story, dance and craft.”

In 1975 folk/blues singer Malvina Reynolds held a workshop titled Bread and Roses, focused on women’s protest songs. Her song, Little Boxes, became a hit for Pete Seeger and was used as the theme song for the TV series Weeds.

Little Boxes – Malvina Reynolds

Little Boxes – Walk Off The Earth

Throughout the years control of the festival had also changed hands a few times as well. It was finally taken over by the Toronto Guild of Canadian Folk Artists in 1969 and then by the Mariposa Folk Foundation in 1977 and to this day is still a volunteer driven, non-profit group presenting music, crafts, stories and dance for all ages.

“So here’s the thing…
I should say something about this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia. Bear with, while I try to explain it. Words without music are, well, just words without music….


This was undoubtedly one of the best years for the festival ever! Despite the dire predictions of raining the entire weekend we got maybe a half hour on Sunday evening -not that it matters; people are always prepared with tarps, raingear and brollies. Intrepid bunch, music festival people.


The line-up was awesome. The Barenaked Ladies are as comfortable as your favourite sneakers, but who knew they were so hysterically funny on stage. Matt Anderson can blow your hair back while at the same time melting your socks. Gift from God, that voice. Irish Mythen’s banter is matched only by her songwriting and distinctive singing voice. Bruce Cockburn obliged with his hits; thousands of people singing “wonder where the lions are….”. Lots of great musicians from around the globe and some real, as yet, undiscovered gems. For those who have never been to a festival, you should know that there are choices and more choices for your listening pleasure. There are multiple stages; each with a different combination of musicians; all so good it’s hard to choose. Sunday morning gospel with Suzie Vinnick…Music icon and national treasure Gordon Lightfoot


Spent most of the weekend camped on a blanket in front of the Estelle Klein stage – barely saw the beer tent. Folk festivals have their own ebb and flow and vibe. People are just…..nice. Not just “sorry/excuse me” Canadian kind of nice but just well, nice. Little acts of kindness everywhere; a special kind of temporary village with a shared vision and passion for the music and what the world should look like. Like that movie about the village that is only visible every hundred years (Brigadoon)and then goes away (thankfully just for a year). Even the kids are different. Little ones everywhere, laughing and bouncing around to the music. No whining, no crying, no tantrums. I think they put a cuteness something in their water. If you ask their parents they say it is because they are “free-range”. Happy loved children. What a concept. Even the geese had a “what-ev’s kind of attitude. Wandering around like either they or the people around were invisible, taking in the sweet breeze from the lake on the point.


So, I thought I was full, like a container, right to the brim. And then they recreated The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert. I was pretty sure my head was going to come off. Or my heart would explode. Or both. So full it’s hard to breathe. If nothing in your world makes you feel like that, keep looking.


So, one last thought. If you’re somewhere like your workplace and someone is miserable and negative, nobody says a word. But if someone is humming a snippet of a tune, someone else will almost assuredly tell them to shut up. Ummmmm. Let that thought percolate a minute. Opt for joy. Better yet, join them in song. Just sayin’. — Sandy Bolyki

Sources

Mariposafolk.com, CBC Entertainment News, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, YouTube

 

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

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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