Pat Blythe – The Blushing Brides and Smooth Jazz

Holy summer!!! The weather is simply gorgeous. Warm and sunny….Mother Nature has apparently had a relapse or she’s feeling a bit guilty about the rather insipid summer we just…..I don’t know…..experienced?  Let’s see…..what else… shit you don’t need to hear about but I will say this, the homemade grape jelly IS AWESOME!!!! Made from my own concord grapes, the vines are now 20 years old. Every year it’s a battle between me and the urban wildlife. Just who plucks the most grapes? The ones left behind or dropped from the vines eventually ferment, providing the neighbourhood with a little late night comical relief as the raccoons waltz about, stumbling and bumbling until they flop over in a deep slumber. The following night is unusually quiet as they nurse their hangovers.

Sleeping it Off….

This scenario repeats itself until all the grapes have vanished. There were so many this year I actually left a few on the vines. There’s only so much jelly a single person can devour and the de-stemming takes hours and hours and hours and… get the idea. Oh and there’s a wedding coming up on Friday, my “birthday present” sister….her eldest is getting hitched. The first in her family. …..and we have the fabulous Sam Taylor performing!!!! This is so exciting. What a perfect segue into…

…The Blushing Brides….

Maurice Raymond

Billed as “The World’s Most Dangerous Tribute To The Music of the Rolling Stones”, the “Brides” have been performing in one configuration or another for close to 40 years. The driving force behind the band is front man Maurice Raymond who’s been with the Brides since their inception as Consilium in 1979. After agreeing to join Paul Martin in a new venture, Raymond left the group he was with (Jade) and moved to Kingston with Martin. The two of them proceeded to recruit Martin van Dijk (bass), Rico Berthiaume (drums) and Andre Lasalie (keyboard) creating one of the first premier tribute bands on the market at the time. Still using the name Consilium and now managed by Gord Nichol (Pro-Motion Management), the band began touring in Ontario and Quebec. Playing to audiences as large as 10,000 they were one of the hottest, unsigned acts in the country. During their performances the band began introducing some of their original material. Changing their name to The Blushing Brides for a New Year’s Eve show at the “Chaud”, the former Chaudiere Club, they began to draw an avid following along the U.S. eastern seaboard.

Start Me Up – The Blushing Brides

L-R – Maurice Raymond, Desmond Leahy

A note on the “Chaud” as it was affectionately known.  A solitary “figure” on the road between Aylmer and Hull, the enormous 2-storey, off-white building was a rabbit’s warren of rooms….the most famous being the Green Door and the Rose Room.  Built in the 1930’s, the Chaudiere Club was considered one of the finest jazz spots around attracting such notable as Louis Armstrong, Gene Krupa, the Inkspots, Duke Ellington et al as well as the citizens of the Ottawa Valley who loved to dance and swing the night away to their tunes. Everything changed in the 1960’s with rougher crowds, bike gangs, rock ‘n’ roll instead of the classier jazz and a famous bouncer called Gerry Barber. There are thousands of stories about the Chaud and today there’s not many bands of the 70’s and 80’s who didn’t play there at least once in their career.

Sascha Tukatsch

James Green

Desmond Leahy and bassist Matthew Greenberg

Maurice Raymond on harmonica

During the ensuing years the Brides signed a deal with RCA Records, released their debut album Unveiled in 1982 and a self-titled EP later than year, toured with Chilliwack and came back broke, signed with Toronto-based Strawberry Records, made a formal name change to The Brides, released their a self-titled a self-titled album (with the single Feel Like A Man), more break-ups, reconciliations, replacements and additions including well-known bassist Vic Cassis, drummer Doug Inglis (Goddo), drummer Sascha Tukatsch (Platinum Blonde), even Raymond departed for a short period of time but was soon brought back into the fold.

Feel Like A Man – The Brides

Almost 4,000 shows later and a return to their original name, The Blushing Brides, the band I saw perform at the Rockpile August 11  is comprised of Raymond, Tukatsch, James Green (lead guitar), Desmond Leahy (guitar) Matthew Greenberg (bass) and guest keyboardist Rob Cooper….and what a performance it was! Photogs were out in force and the packed house left no whistle, shout or scream unspoken. I’m not sure who was having more fun at time, the Brides or their “wedding” guests. I’ve seen Tukatsch pound the skins before and his precision drumming fascinates me every time. There’s been so much said and written about Raymond’s Mick Jagger stage impersonation that I don’t have much to add except to say they’re all correct….he’s spot on from the voice to the moves. It’s difficult to take your eyes off him as he ponces and cavorts around the stage in true Jagger style. I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to see this band I’d heard so much about in action.

Satisfaction – The Blushing Brides

Lonely Boy – The Blushing Brides (from their debut album Unveiled)

L-R – Frank Zirone, Claude Jones, Jeff Jones

August 16 found me, along with ONES producer Frank Zirone, in the company of Chicago jazz keyboardist Claude Jones. Jones, father of renowned bassist Jeff Jones of Red Rider and The Carpet Frogs fame, was being interviewed about his time in the music business in Chicago during the 50’s and 60’s. Time spent in the recording studio when everything was charted and you played what was on the chart and nothing else. There was no room for improvisation. Comparisons of then and now were made. Residencies, not touring, were the way many musicians made their living. Jones senior brought his family north to Canada 51 years ago, deciding this was the place his family could grow. Now, at the age of 93 (94 in November), he resides in Mississauga, the grand piano long gone but the history of his life and pictures of his family are scattered all over the apartment. His love of family runs deep with a special light for his youngest whom he considers crazy with his life of constant touring and traveling around North America. Happy early Birthday Mr. Jones.

Life Is A Highway – Tom Cochrane

Smooth jazz…..

Eddie Bullen’s annual Smooth Jazz Cruise set sail on the River Gambler the evening of August 18 and what a superb night it was. A sell out every year, the crowd of 300 sang and danced to the sounds of Bullen and his band which included bassist Andrew Stewart, guest drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy), saxophonist Rob Christian and drummer Otis Williams with performances by Quincy Bullen, Liberty Silver, Michael Dunstan, Quisha Wint and Steve Higgins. I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Jamaica World Gina Hargitay who joined us at our table. She is indeed as beautiful inside as she is outside….and she can sing! The event was indeed the topper to my summer, an absolutely fantastic evening of music and laughter…..and ALL ages enjoyed themselves…..from a tiny person of about two years through to those of us of a slightly more experienced generation. What was truly amazing was to see the young folk (twentysomethings) whoop it up, thoroughly in tune with the music. Everyone disembarked with a smile on their face and in their hearts.

Mardis Gras – Eddie Bullen

Quincy Bullen

Eddie Bullen

Rob Christian

Quisha Wint and Michael Dunstan

Eddie Bullen and the youngest audience member

Miss Jamaica World Gina Hargitay

L-R – Larnell Lewis, Liberty Silver, Eddie Bullen, Quisha Wint, Michael Dunstan, Quincy Bullen, Otis Williams, Andrew Stewart, Rob Christian

Soul Revolution – Michael Dunstan

Just Want To Make Love To You – Quisha Wint

At Last – Liberty Silver

Sarah Smith and London Bluesfest with Burton Cummings and The Carpet Frogs, Molly Hatchet, Robert Cray, Wild T and The Spirit and Bill Durst next week. It’s been a busy August and I’m playing catch-up.


All photographs copyright A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” unless otherwise noted.

To check out my September events click here


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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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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