Pat Blythe – Rights, Nights, and Music

Okay, we’ll kick this off with the weather…..freezing cold, snowing, raining, freezing rain, sunny, cloudy, pluses and minuses all over the map, exploding pipes, sinkholes, warming trends, arctic air masses, blankets on, blankets off…..we’re screwed! Somebody make up their mind!!!! This keeps up I’m whipping out the 3″ summer sandals…..winter be damned!

This past Saturday (January 20) I joined my good friend, photographer Lisa MacIntosh at the Toronto Women’s March. Having never been, I jumped at the chance to photograph it and the opportunity to work a bit with Lisa. After downing a couple of coffees at my place we headed downtown to Nathan Phillips Square. No bags, just us and our cameras. I gotta admit, I feel positively naked without my camera bag. The square filled up rapidly with bodies and signs…..signs people had spent half the night taking care to create…..signs with messages that were important to them…..signs meant to get the word out, to make a point….their point. Uniting hundreds of thousands of men and woman in major cities all over the world, the sentiment was palpable. Enough is enough, Time’s Up.

Everybody has an opinion….good, bad or indifferent. There have been protests and marches happening for millennia…. protesting war, seeking peace, the rights of gays, blacks and indigenous people, demanding the vote, religion, high taxes…..a myriad of reasons too numerous to mention here. My point? Why does this one raise so many hackles? So many crude, misogynistic, rude, hurtful, questionable remarks. The right to be treated with dignity, honour, common courtesy and respect belongs to ALL humans. The fact that any of us still have to march and protest for these rights stupefies me. As I looked around at the crowds milling about there was a camaraderie among everyone. Peaceful and mannerly, there is no room for hate or violence. Families…..I loved that they were teaching their little ones…..mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, senior baby boomers and the next few generations down (I really hate labels and the word “old”). It was uplifting  and for many, an emotional catharsis. One particular item that “he who cannot be shamed” gave the world…..the Pink Pussy Hat. It has become a solidarity symbol worn around the globe. Instantly and easily recognizable in any crowd, the little pink eared hat provides a visually distinct and meaningful message and has come to represent the international unification of women and the “times up” mantra….. globally.

The crowds I’m usually making my way through are in music venues and concert halls. As I stood up on the ledge in front of the N in the TORONTO sign (a perfect vantage point) watching the faces and particularly those carrying signs, there remains a fierce determination and pride…..determination  to eliminate the hurt and injustices done to, and on behalf of, 50% of the worldwide population, and pride in who they are. For those who want to quibble numbers….out of 1,000 people, 504 are men (50.4%) and 496 are women (49.6%). For every 100 girls, 107 boys are born, but males have a higher risk of dying than females, both in childhood and at adult ages. So at a certain age, the numbers of men and women even out.” — INED (French Institute for Demographic Studies/Institut National d’ Ètudes Dèmographiques)

Following is just a microcosm of what I captured……

Truly Canadian……

….and a tip of the Pussy Hat to the man who triggered the movement……

One word of caution. While the Weinstein debacle ricocheted around the world, prompting (and freeing) both women and men to come forward with their #metoo stories, it has also opened a whole Pandora’s box of opportunists, radicals, naysayers, etc. on both sides of the fence. The very public “outings” of relatively prominent (and some not so prominent) individuals has caused a media feeding frenzy and media-fueled, mass-judgment calls of guilty before anything is proven….on either side. In the meantime, lives are destroyed, jobs lost and families, many of which include young children, are divided or torn apart. I keep thinking about what those kids face at school every day. It dilutes and harms the message and what the entire movement is all about. When Pandora opened the box “horrible things flew out…including greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death. All of life’s miseries had been let out into the world. Pandora slammed the lid of the box back down. The last thing remaining inside of the box was hope.”  Keep the hope and the fight alive without the hurt.

…..and now a little nightlife….

I did my first, on-camera band interview at the Rivoli last Thursday, not without a huge push (read shove) and great trepidation. I thank the gods it was with three lovely lads I know very well….James Blonde. A quick chat with Steph Mercier, Phil Taylor and Neil Carson about the band, their western tour, Vancouver robbery and huge fan response and of course, their new, self-titled album. Hartley Pickens, CEO of SEEROCKLIVE.com has been pushing me to go in front of the camera for a while now. Many thanks to videographer Franco Recchia (francojrmusic on Instagram) for your positivity, upbeat spirit and patience. I have three more interviews coming up this Saturday at the Horseshoe Tavern with Hot Lips, The Last Bullet and Ready The Prince. Crown Lands is also performing and Jacqui Childs has the pleasure of interviewing those two fine musicians.

James Blonde (l-r) Steph Mercier, Phil Taylor, Neil Carson

Thursday’s lineup at the Rivoli included James Blonde, Kentucky Rails and Eleven North. James Blonde’s  music and energy just lit up the room. The Rivoli was packed and dancers took their positions. You simply can’t keep still, even when holding a camera. These guys have such a huge, fan base and not surprisingly, there was a rather sizeable contingent from the Niagara region, the home of James Blonde. Hardworking, constantly on the road, they don’t often play in Toronto so this was a rare treat. Bass, drums and guitar, consummate musicians, fabulous harmonies that will make your ears smile, their album contains some of the best original pop/rock tunes written in years and well…..when I hear their music there is an uncontrollable urge to bust a move. If you get the chance go see them, you’ll find your feet will have a mind of their own. Find out more about them or check out their tunes here https://www.jamesblonde.ca/

Don’t Lock The Door – James Blonde

Kentucky Rails (l-r) Dave Kirby, Zach McCabe, Justin de Graaf, Ryan Pellicciotta

Kentucky Rails slammed it home with some fantastic country rock (emphasis on rock). Vocalist Zach McCabe can’t seem to hit a wrong note. His voice is perfect for this band and their music. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had heard McCabe sing once before at Aeolian Hall in London, Ontario. I was reminded by Sam Taylor that McCabe performed with Sarah Smith just over a year ago at the launch of her album 11. Filling out the KR roster are Justin de Graaf (bass), Ryan Pellicciotta (lead guitar), Dave Kirby (lead guitar), Matt Soliveri (drums) and McCabe on lead vocals and acoustic guitar.  They perform again at the Steamwhistle Brewery February 23. I would highly recommend you catch their act. Country or no, they rock the joint! You can find their website here https://www.kentuckyrails.com/

Dave Kirby and Justin de Graaf

Matt Soliveri

Mexican Restaurant – Kentucky Rails

Wallet – Kentucky Rails

Friday morning dance class with Sandy Graham. Nothing like a little Cha Cha and Electric Slide to get the blood moving. Friday night in!!! Yes…..in…quiet night at home….for once. Reviewing and editing photos. Back-log city!! Rise and shine first thing Saturday morning, coffee on (now both eyes are open) and then head downtown to the Toronto Women’s March. Back home, more reviewing and editing and then out the door to see a cappella group Countermeasure at the Rose Theatre in Brampton.

The ladies of Countermeasure

Countermeasure

Pat Silver of SING! Toronto very kindly invited me to see the show. I am a lover of harmony and particularly a cappella singing. Not content to sing “inside the box”, these 13 vocalists, together now for eight years, work a unique magic with only their voices, not simply with their own material but recreating others. Telling stories and painting pictures with gorgeous harmony. Their rendition of The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles was comedic and perfectly sung, inviting audience participation. Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time was almost unrecognizable but, done Countermeasure/a cappella style, turned a campy pop song classy. The performance of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, with completely different lyrics and three audience members joining them on stage, was brilliant. Bruce Cockburn’s Lovers in a Dangerous Time was made the hairs on my arms stand on end. Stories were told as introductions to each new piece, there were comedy bits and even a short film by the National Film Board of Canada….CanCon you know….all done tongue-in-cheek.

Audience member participation for Copacabana

Countermeasure’s reinterpretation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince was filmed live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Called The Fox In The Field, the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat was a commanding and breathtaking stage for the stirring, heartbreaking song. The harmonies and vocals are both poignant and powerful. “Though ostensibly styled as a children’s book, The Little Prince makes several observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince during his travels on Earth. The story’s essence is contained in the fox saying that “one sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.” Other key morals articulated by the fox are: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed,” and “It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.” The fox’s messages are arguably the book’s most famous quotations because they deal with human relationships.” – Wikipedia

Fox in The Field – Countermeasure

filmed in

Takin’ It Home – Countermeasure

J.C. Sandoval

One more stop tonight at Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge to see The Crooked. A brand new band for well-known guitarist J.C. Sandoval who’s musical past includes Secret Broadcast and Die Mannequin (the latter is still on hiatus). Joining Sandoval are Neelesh V. (lead guitar), Russ Shipman (bass) and finally Dell Orso (drums) who was formerly with Of The Bear Bookings.  Genre…..rock with a little soul and blues thrown in. Their debut took place a Lee’s Palace last summer and since then The Crooked have produced two videos (with a third on the way), performing in around the GTA club scene, gathering momentum with each performance. I’ve known Sandoval for almost three years now and have seen him perform with his former bandmates and as a solo artist. He is a highly respected guitarist and singer/songwriter so it’s great to see him front and centre, sharing that wonderful voice of his. The Crooked tore up Cherry’s with bass-man Shipman disappearing into the crowd while his thundering bass continued to fill the room. Ah….wireless technology. Who needs a stage anymore? The club was at capacity and the heat both on and off stage was intense. Just standing on my stool snapping away I could feel little beads of perspiration tricking down my neck and back. Music mixed with body heat is a powerful thing.

Tarot Cards – The Crooked

I Didn’t Know – The Crooked

Sunday morning lie-in….at least for a few minutes. Then it’s back behind the computer with the laundry machine making its own music in the background. It’s the third Blues Sunday of the month at the Linsmore Tavern and I’ll give you three guesses who’s playing (and the first two don’t count smartass).

Sam Taylor and The East End Love with multi-instrumentalist Lawrie Ingles on bass, Maia Van Raes working her magic on the keys and one of my favourite drummers, Jace Traz, blasted into song at 7pm. The place soon filled up with blues lovers including Robbie and Marilyn Lane and good friends Jon and Cara Nye dropping by for a set or two. Jon just purchased his first digital camera and is excited to be back in the world of photography. Make no mistake, Jon began with film years ago and is no neophyte in the world of negatives, camera settings, darkrooms and the like. I remember when Chris purchased his first digital camera. It took him months while he devoured all the literature and took hundreds of test pictures to figure out all the settings and get everything set up just the way he liked it. Vastly different from the anologue/manual world.

Taylor always draws in a crowd of sincere blues lovers. Always ensuring the audience is having a good time and storytelling inbetween songs, Taylor is very down-to-earth who’s warm persona makes the audience feel welcome. He’s everyone’s favourite “blues kid”. Frequently invited as a guest on Lane’s radio show on Zoomer Radio (96.7FM or AM740), Taylor has now guest-hosted two full shows with Lane. More of a noon riser, I can only chuckle at the visual of Taylor’s streetcar crawl downtown at 5am….one eye barely open clutching a large coffee…. Taylor’s “blues touch” is magic. I’m sure blue is the colour of his blood. I love listening to him and watching him play and, if you haven’t already guessed, I love photographing him. There is something so electric about his performance….

Great harmonies with Lawrie Ingles and Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor & Maia Van Raes

Jace Traz

Still remembering…..

Her death still resonates with me. I’m not sure why?? She passed so unexpectedly at an impossibly young age leaving behind two families who loved her immensely. My heart goes out to them but especially her children. This a short but rather well put together doc on Delores O’Riordan. The headline screams “trash”, but it’s actually not. A small peak into a family loving, passionate singer/songwriter/musician who was supremely proud of what she did.

The Untold Truth About The Cranberries’ Lead Singer

Two new finds……

Langston Francis, a young man from Toronto’s west end. A fine debut video and song. Filmed in around the streets of Toronto including Kensington Market, Francis is brutally honest about screwing up a relationship and pushing it sideways. Catchy beat, great hooks, Francis’s voice has a smooth, languid sound and feel. Find out more about this young talent here http://www.langstonfrancis.com/

FCKD It Up – Langston Francis

I’ll be at either the Burdock (Feb. 8) or The Local (Feb. 9) in to catch Keeler. A sweet debut of her new EP Bygone. Keeler is originally from Kingston, Ontario and now resides in….you guessed it…..Montreal.

Montreal – Beatrice Keeler

More tunes…..

At the risk of repetition, fellow scribe Frank Gutch Jr. put this one in his column just yesterday. A song I had completely forgotten about. A song I love. It’s worth repeating…. Thank you Frank.

Reach Out of the Darkness – Friend and Lovers

….while we’re in the 60’s

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Nothin To Hide – Spirit

Arizona – Marcus Lindsay

(a few references in this piece that wouldn’t pass today but I love the song nonetheless)

Venus – Shocking Blue

Give Me Just A Little More Time – Chairman of The Board

….two of my favourite violinists today…

Crystallize – Lindsey Stirling

Classical Gas – Vanessa Mae

Cheers!

Sources

INED, French Institute for Demographic Studies/Institut National d’ Ètudes Dèmographiques

=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! 

2 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Rights, Nights, and Music”

  1. Awesome read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: