Pat Blythe – Every Picture Tells a Story…and Music!

I try and start the column with the actual focus of the column, which is music. Then the squirreling happens and my brain starts to meander all over the place….and nowhere in particular. Again, researching something entirely different I came across this quote from a video I stumbled upon. The video is actually produced by Canon (which happens to be the maker of camera I use).

“A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it.”

The Lab Decoy – A portrait session with a twist

This is a wonderful perspective from a photographer’s point of view.  It made me think and question how much of ourselves we “put” into the photograph, how our preconceived notions, thoughts or ideas influence our approach and the way we “picture” the subject of the photograph before we even press the button. When I took up photography my aim was not to shoot (no pun intended) for the “perfect” photo, and it still isn’t. I photograph predominantly live shows in clubs and theatres with absolutely no control or ability to “direct” the situation. There are always limitations and the scenery changes from second to second so I spend a great deal of time peering through the viewfinder, tracking and following the performers. My aim is to capture the music through a look, an emotion, a reaction, a mood, anticipate a movement. I watch the interplay of the musicians, with each other, with the audience and with their instruments. I photograph what’s going on, on stage and off. I am also fascinated by the instruments themselves which is simply an extension of the musician.

Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday of Rival Sons

I sincerely applaud those who can catch the slight turn of a face or a gentle shift in posture in portrait photography. The ability to grab a sense of the real person…..almost liberate their inner selves. Yousuf Karsh literally snatched the cigar out of Winston Churchill’s mouth and snapped that now famous scowl; Annie Leibovitz has an incredible imagination and instinct, managing to create the most amazing “scenes”, whether simple or complex, to portray her subjects beautifully. Then there’s Henri Cartie-Bresson, Arthur Sasse, Helmut Newton, Anthony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon)….the list goes on…..all extremely famous portrait photographers.

Winston Churchill by Yousuf Karsh, 1941

There are also the photojournalists whose incredible works are permanently etched into our brains and our psyches. They create our historical  “markers”….points in time caught by the lens that we will never, ever forget. The “where were you when”  pictures?

The Most Famous Pictures Ever

Today’s professional photographers are working in entirely unique and vastly changed environments. With the advent of the digital age and camera phones, everyone is taking pictures, simply because they can. Snaps…..what Chris called memorabilia pics. Many are point-and-shoot, frequently unflattering, out of focus, heads partially cut off, blurred movement, etc. We used to invite friends over for a meal or a drink and share our specially selected pictures. Now we see them posted all over social media and anything goes. We love to share but social media has taken it to the extreme, especially with pictures, videos and music. It’s an environment that is rapidly lowering values and quality but particularly affecting music and photography. ….and to have to wait for anything!! The demand for immediate gratification in our present culture is all encompassing. Snap a pic, post it 30 seconds later.

If A Picture Paints A 1000 Words – David Gates

Like any art form, whether it’s painting, music, pottery, etc., photography is a continual, never ending learning process. It’s understanding your equipment, working with lighting (or lack of), careful reviewing and editing  (previously done in darkrooms), and a ridiculous amount of time and patience.  The most important ingredient… need “an eye”. That’s not something learned. It’s innate, an inborn, natural instinct. The abovementioned photographers had it/have it. Not every photograph is technically perfect. It’s not meant to be. But what those photographers manage(d) to see and seize through the lens is iconic.

So when you want your most important lifetime moments photographed….wedding, graduation, birth of a child, family portrait, promotional picture….who would YOU hire? A professional or your selfy-loving best friend?

The World’s Most Powerful Photographs

There are many contemporary photographers I admire today. Liebovitz is certainly one but I appreciate the art of photographers such as Lisa MacIntosh whose book, Music Maker’s: Portrait at The Great Hall depicts some beautiful examples of portrait photography as well as a wonderful pictorial gambol through our musical world. ;Bobby Singh, Front of The House (FOH) ; Dylan Weller, at Nth Degree Design and Karl Anderson of Anderson Creative who took that amazing head shot of me for my column and websites.

Every Picture Tells A Story – Rod Stewart

So, the rest of September…..October will have to wait…..

A benefit concert for Turning Point Youth Services was held at The Hideout on Sept. 27 and the Sarah Smith Band performed. With Smith on vocals and rhythm guitar,  Ken “The Zen” Ross on bass, Robyn McDonald on drums (yay….. a lady drummer) and Jordan Brousseau on lead guitar, the band pulled out all the stops and fired up the room. Organizer Noa Rozenblit worked tirelessly to arrange a fabulous night of entertainment and the event was a sellout! Youth performers Sebastian, Noah and Tal (two on sax and one on drums) whose combined age probably didn’t equal mine, performed a set of their own and were asked back on stage to perform I’m Asking with the band. These three young men are incredibly talented, fearless young musicians. Smith, whose primary home I’m beginning to believe is on stage, does what she does best and takes the audience right along with her. Audiences all over the world love Smith and her music and she gives her all in return. A memorable night indeed. To find out more about Turning Point click here

L-R – Jordan Brousseau, Sarah Smith, Ken Ross, Robyn McDonald

L-R – peeking out from the side Jordan Brousseau, Sebastian, Noah, Sarah Smith, Ken Ross and Tal on drums

Black Pussy….this band has been around for several years now and their name sparks controversy everywhere they go. It was the original title of the Rolling Stones song Brown Sugar but was changed after the record company refused to release it fearing a backlash from the public. The band Black Pussy was named BEFORE they heard the story. A band bio explains that the name suits a “a sex-charged, ’70s-influenced, hide-your-daughters-because-they’re-coming-to-town rock’n’roll band.”  According to Dustin Hill, the creative force and main songwriter behind the band, he came up with the concept and the name almost ten years ago, wanting to form a band that paid homage to the sounds and feel of the 70’s, right down to the gear…..exclusively vintage Sunn gear no less.

L-R – Dustin Hill, Dean Carroll, Ryan McIntire, Aaron Poplin performing at Cherry Cola’s

According to an article in Atomic Gear, “Considering the name comes from a song that directly speaks out against racism, Hill isn’t willing to entertain the notion that the band intends to offend anyone.” In a 2016 interview with Noisey, Hill stated, “If people knew how to use a dictionary, they would see these words individually—the word “black” says nothing about a person and looking up “pussy,” it has multiple meanings. The words are very ambiguous and it’s a multi-entendre. That’s the beautiful thing about art. When artists write things like that, it’s up to audience interpretation. We’re living now in a society of people wanting to be victims. They find the negatives in everything they possibly can.”  Hill added “Women don’t own the word “pussy.” I don’t think people with a dark complexion own the word “black”.” I have to agree with him there. The word “gay” has been expropriated, some would say hijacked, from its original meaning and now refers to someone’s sexuality and not their feeling or mood. There are others…….

Mad keyboardist Keith O’Dell

The name doesn’t offend me and their music…..far from it. This was my second or third chance to see the band and I’m glad I finally made it. They performed at Cherry Cola’s to a packed house and a full dance floor. Hill refers to their music as “stoner pop” and “psychedelic rock” and I have to agree. Their music is a melange of everything from Thin Lizzy to Jimi Hendrix, toss in Queen, The Cars and just about any other band of the 70’s, set to spin and voila… have Black Pussy.  Home base is Portland, Oregon and members are Dustin Hill (lead guitar/vox), Ryan McIntire (guitar), Dean Carroll (drums), Aaron Poplin (bass) and Keith O’Dell (keyboards/vox). Each one of them looks like they came back through a time machine from 1972. They are crazy, fun, very accomplished musicians and it’s obvious they know exactly what they’re doing. Quite frankly, I think all brouhaha is much ado about nothing. I will admit, looking for their music on YouTube provided an interesting peek into the world of porn and how the human mind works. When the first choices appearing on the screen don’t have anything to do with a black cat or cats of any type but rather display women in all their glory, it truly shows how pathetically low we’ve really sunk. So much for hiding that Playboy Magazine under the mattress. I wonder what happens if I type in the world beaver……..?

For The Sake of Argument – Black Pussy

Home Sweet Home – Black Pussy

On Sept 30 it was Robbie Lane and The Disciples with special guests The Dreamboats, Sam Taylor and Keith Hampshire (yes, THAT Keith Hampshire) appearing at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre to a sold out room. Taylor was riding out with me but for some reason I was thinking the show was on the Sunday. It wasn’t until I got a text from him asking if we could leave a bit earlier that I realized I had my days mixed up. Close call.

Robbie Lane

Robbie Lane with The Dreamboats

I had the prior pleasure of meeting The Dreamboats and Hampshire (who was guest hosting) at Zoomer Radio a few days prior to the show. After listening to Bryan Fligg (bass/vox) and Chris Hummell (guitar/vox) perform an original song on the show, I knew I needed to see these guys live. Gianmarco Fiaconni (drums/vox) and Matthew Bestivator-Tennison (lead guitar) round out the group. Fun, eye-catching, accomplished musicians all, wonderful vocals and harmonies, fun and down-to-earth truly nice people, these four put on a hell of a show. With a love of 50’s and 60’s era rock ‘n’ roll, what they refer to as “retro rock”…..the days of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper…’s not long before this quartet has the audience rocking right along with them.

L-R – Chris Hummell, Matthew Bestivator-Tennison, Bryan Fligg

Gianmarco Fiaconni

Fool For You – The Dreamboats

Good Old Fashioned Rock and Roll – The Dreamboats (performance)

I never thought I’d see the day when I would hear The First Cut is The Deepest by the artist who made it famous, Keith Hampshire.  The number one single topped the RPM charts in 1973 and I can still hear my mother, doing her thing in the kitchen singing “first cousin to Jesus” at the top of her lungs. After laughing so hard I choked, I let her know the correct title of the song and that Jesus had nothing to do with it. Hampshire, born in England, was a popular singer in the 70’s and had a number of other hits including Daytime Night Time and Big Time Operator as well as a popular TV show called Keith Hampshire’s Music Machine on CBC.

Keith Hampshire

The First Cut Is The Deepest – Keith Hampshire

Sam Taylor captured the hearts and souls of the crowd and gained a slew of new fans including The Dreamboats themselves. His voice is distinctive and powerful, his skills on the guitar are those of a veteran far beyond his years. Not only is Taylor’s love for the blues and music in general deep but his “feel” is that of a man who has lived through those times. A prolific songwriter, Taylor’s new project, Gems, is producing something slightly different, what Taylor calls soul/rock. A multifaceted musician, his flexibility and ability to change and move through genres with ease while also blending them together, allows Taylor to flex his vocal, writing and playing skills without pinning him down to one type of sound.

Sam Taylor

The finale with everyone on stage (that I could fit into this frame anyway)


For some reason I came across this one. I was only seven when it was originally released but I remember my girlfriend’s older sister playing this on her little portable record player. Loved it, still do. Good memories.

Mecca – Gene Pitney

……and this

24 Hours From Tulsa – Gene Pitney

Break My Fall – Research Turtles

Pour a glass of wine (or your favourite beverage), sit back and relax…… This gem is a beautiful piece.

Samba Pa Ti – Santana

Something about this song and video……

Adaline – Nostalgia

Still playing catch up but it’s all good. We’ll get there. So much going on!


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


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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