Pat Blythe – Appreciating Tom Waits, “The Bout” at The Hideout and More…

Brrrrrrrr…..the cold weather has been keeping many folks inside, even with the brief break of a balmy five degrees! Inviting sun…..frostbitten tootsies. The live music scene, however, is not slowing down and is, in fact, just starting to heat up. Behind the curtains local clubs, bars, concert halls and music festivals are busy sprucing up, prepping, and booking music that will make your ears dance.

I’ve been hunkered indoors myself, avoiding that horrendous flu bug that has flattened many, including a friend who apparently took it on vacation, and literally, damn near died from it. It’s a deadly one folks so beware. So far I have been spared. No clubs, pubs or congregating anywhere. My first photos of the year were taken last night (but I’ll get to that in a minute).

Feeling blue?

There has been much chatter and opinion across the various streams of social media regarding “Blue Monday”. Folks, there is NO SUCH THING. The term was invented by a British psychologist for an travel company to promote trips to sunnier climes. Depression, just one of many complex mental health issues, is a serious matter not to be trifled with and passed off as funk or a “blue” day. Our own Bell Canada has jumped on the bandwagon with their January “Let’s Talk” day. Personally, I find it a second-rate ploy to capitalize on blue Monday, creating the perception they are “giving back” to the community. Great promo for one of the most difficult (and rudest) customer service centres I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a totally meaningless gesture, just great press and humongous billboards touting their name. Can you tell this really, really bugs me…..?

Depression can be a 365-a-day, year-after-year, illness. It is NOT a one-day affair where having a quick “convo” about it (or for it) affects much of anything. Blue Monday, Let’s Talk…..those days come and go. Depression lingers on. If not properly treated it can lead to drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, family breakdowns, job loss, homelessness, and yes, suicide. Like an endless tunnel with not even a glimmer of light at the end, the depressive only seeks to disappear from the pain of the black hole engulfing them. It’s the thousand-pound, crushing weight, slowly flattening them until there is nothing left. It’s an illness that needs to be addressed with more than a single-day excuse for feeling crappy and a quick “chat”.

On so many levels……

Miss You — The Cranberries

There is no specific or one single cause for depression but many mitigating factors:

Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.”- Harvard Health

“While some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward, depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be simply cured with medication. It’s caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.” – HelpGuide.org

There is one thing we can do something about. Social media, while linking many people, has, in many respects, created a serious lack of human contact, creating isolation and its resulting best friends….loneliness followed by depression. We are so busy posting, snapping and chirping about our three favourite people….me, myself and I…..that we lose touch….physical touch….with each other and we are naturally a touchy feely lot. We need, no we require, human contact. However, we are becoming a totally egocentric society more interested in sharing pics of the food we eat than actually enjoying it with someone. When was the last time you even conversed on the phone, and I don’t mean “yep”, “uh huh”, “k”, “peace out”….I mean a full-blown conversation that lasted longer than 20 seconds. How about face-to-face? Screaming at each other in a club doesn’t count. ….and you wonder why approximately 350 million people world-wide are depressed. There are a number of friends and family in my life who suffer from various forms of mental illness including depression and anxiety. It’s an ongoing struggle for both them and their families to lead a “normal” (whatever that means) life. Maybe, if we just begin with the simple things, like physically CONNECTING, TALKING and LISTENING to each other…..and it’s amazing what a HUG can do. It’s a start……

When we neglect each other, we are neglecting ourselves.

Now….for a little nightlife…..

Last night I finally ventured out, visiting two separate venues. First stop was The Hideout at their new digs on College St. I popped in during Indie Week last fall and I must say, although the Queen St. W. space was iconic, their new home is fabulous. Spacious with a much better layout. You can eyeball the stage from pretty much anywhere….and the stage is where it all happens. Making noise and raising the roof since 2006 with live music seven-nights-a-week, The Hideout, in collaboration with Canada Rocks Media and See Rock Live Magazine, is sponsoring a music/band/artist competition fondly referred to as “The Bout” at The Hideout.  Canadian Music Week (CMW) is also involved and is sponsoring one of the showcases. In a nutshell…..there are 100 open slots, for all genres of music, (rock, folk, punk, country, jazz, blues, etc), solo artists, full bands, duos are all welcome…..the competition is all inclusive.

The three owners of The Hideout, brothers Dan and Jimmy Good and cousin Phil Dodd, are pumped. Planning and co-ordination is full steam ahead. There will be a panel of judges for the final six entrants and it’s all preceded by several weeks of showcasing and fan choices/voting leading up to the final night. The Hideout is also providing each band or artist with 25 tickets to sell for their own showcase. Artists keep 100% of the profits. The total prize money is $10,000 with the winner(s) receiving $6,500. Not to be sneezed at, that buys a lot of skins, sticks, picks and guitar strings not to mention a new mic or two. Drop dead date for sign-up is Tuesday, January 23 and spots are filling up fast (over 75% full). Kick-off is February. Final show in May during CMW. Judges yet to be announced.

Personally, I can’t seem to poke holes in this one. The local venues, club owners, promoters and bookers frequently receive a bad rap from the music community. Some deservedly so. It’s a tough slog out there for any kind of artist, not just music. With ridiculous rents and more and more people staying home it hasn’t been a cakewalk for the venues either. Places like Cherry Cola’s, The Velvet Underground, The Smiling Buddha and  a host of other live music venues are hanging in there. Others….. What precipitated the whole contest idea? It’s The Hideout’s way of giving back to the music community and the musicians as well as the regulars who have been supporting the club and the artists since The Hideout’s inception. It also gives a leg up to many young artists and bands, all of whom have an equal chance at winning. So get your best original song ready…..rehearse, rehearse, rehearse….get your fans together…..now go to https://thehideouttoronto.com/ and sign up!

Appreciating Waits…..

It’s friggin’ snowing out and there are some asinine, crazy drivers on the road. Made it to the Linsmore Tavern to see the Tom Waits Appreciation Congregation, the second time I’ve see their show. Spearheaded by Marty Morin, the band’s dedication to all things Tom Waits is now in its ninth year. I’m accustomed to watching Morin behind the drums in the ONES show. As a front man and lead vocalist, it takes about a minute into the song and you forget all about the drums as Morin draws you into each song. Over annunciating each word and phrase to ensure the audience understands exactly what the song is about, he bleeds and sweats Waits and sounds like him too. Every song is a story and I found myself listening acutely for the next line, sometimes fascinated more with the tale than the music. Morin’s lively personality and deep love of not only Waits, but music, is perfectly suited to bring Waits’ songs to life, in a style all his own. In addition to Morin(vocals/guitar), this incredible band of top notch musicians is comprised of Mike Daley (lead guitar), Jay Burr (Tuba), Braxton Hicks (sax & clarinet) and Lowell Whitty (drums). I am slowly becoming a Tom Waits fan.

Marty Morin

Braxton Hicks’ well loved sax

Tom Waits….singer, composer, songwriter, actor, musician….born in 1949. A somewhat vaudevillian slant, mixed with jazz and blues, a little mambo, a little tango, a little country….Waits’ music doesn’t really fit into any genre and that’s probably just the how he prefers it. His distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as “soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car” almost talks, rather that sings his rather fantastical, bizarre lyrics. They are both weird and rather gripping at the same time. Depressing, misshapen, oddly charming and very visual. You lean in wanting to hear what he’s going to come up with next. One listener’s comments….”Tom Wait’s type of music reminds me of Jack Kerouac’s essence and Charles’ Bukowski’s attitude with Hunter S. Thompson’s charm.” I love it!

Jockey Full of Bourbon – Tom Waits

Swordfishtrombone – Tom Waits

Dead and Lovely – Tom Waits

I’m looking forward to a myriad of changes this year and hopefully a tad more focussed. Trying to plan but still don’t know where this journey will take me. An entire life turned upside down over the past four years. It’s been exciting, sometimes even breathtaking, scary and occasionally mind-numbing but never, never boring and best of all are the people I’ve met and many who have become friends. The give and take is a wonderful feeling and those lovely endorphins and burst of oxytocin from hugging…..absolutely scrumptious.

…and the Music just Keeps on Coming.

People Park (unplugged) – Vinyl Ambush

Just as powerful today as it was 23 years ago…..

Promises – Amanda Marshall

…..actually one of my favourite Sabbath songs

Orchid (instrumental)- Black Sabbath

THIS belongs on the radio……!!!!!

Golden Vibes – James Blonde

…..I don’t know what it is about this song….

Electric Man – Rival Sons

Cheers!

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

=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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