Pat Blythe – Decisions, George Olliver, Book Review…..and Music!

It’s time to make some hard decisions. There are far too many “projects” surrounding and overwhelming me, all requiring rather large investments of time and money. So…..I must focus on two or three and let the others drift a bit. I love what I do, being able to mix my passions of music, photography and writing and the people make it all worthwhile. But now it’s time to buckle down and actually put all the pieces together. Like many bands and musicians will attest to, “exposure” doesn’t pay the bills or buy the groceries. This weekly diatribe (or my writing in general) is not going anywhere and certainly neither is the photography. Along with the music it’s how I’ve met so many of you and how I connect what’s happening in the music community with those who read this column (and vice versa). But now is the time for some changes.

I’ve now spent the past few years back in the music business building a large catalogue of work in writing and photography, enjoying it all immensely. I have a website I am happy with (, a portfolio of thousands of photographs, some of which you can see on my website and on my Facebook page (A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”) and have  articles and photos published not only on line but in print media. My photos have also been used on EPs (front and back covers) and even for a European tour poster. Now it’s time to “focus baby focus”. Choose the path I want to follow and let’s see what the rest of this year brings

George Olliver…..

George Olliver (centre) with his band

On Sunday, January 28 George Olliver was presented with the Cashbox Canada Legacy Award by Robbie Lane (himself a recipient) to the thunderous applause of a packed house.  Hosted by Sandy Graham, owner, publisher and editor of Cashbox Canada Magazine, the event was emceed by Michael Williams at the TheDukeLive. The crowd was treated to the soulful vocals and wild gyrations of Olliver himself as he boogied, twirled and sang his way through two sets of classic R&B music. The dance floor was filled to capacity with a few Cha Chas, a Continental or two and some jiving going on. Those dance classes are beginning to pay off. Olliver, who had celebrated his 72nd birthday just a few days before, was also presented with a birthday cake while the entire club sang Happy Birthday. From his beginnings at the Café Bluenote to Mandala to the current George Olliver Band, he is strongly associated with what is known as the Toronto Sound. With so many connections  and changes that have happened  over his past 50+ years in the business, I’m interested in hearing Olliver’s story and hope to be chatting with him over the next couple of weeks.

Still got his moves…..

Robbie Lane & George Olliver

L–R Michael Williams, Robbie Lane, George Olliver, Sandy Graham

Mandala 1966

Love-itis – Mandala

Book Report…..Tom Wilson….Beautiful Scars

Tom Wilson – photo ©2017 Lisa MacIntosh Photography

I attended Tom Wilson’s book launch here in Toronto at The Gladstone Hotel late November last year. With the crowd spilling out into the lobby and the next door bar, Wilson captures your attention immediately, revealing the story of how he came to write the book, and sharing some of the book’s anecdotes with the audience. He later performs one of his songs accompanied by a group of wonderful musicians.  Physically, it’s hard to miss Wilson in a crowd. He is a big bear of a man, his shaggy mane covered by a large fur hat pulled down over his forehead. The lower half of his face is equally hidden by a large scruffy beard. He is the epitome of the Canadian outdoorsman…. tracker….hunter…. His is also one of the most talented artists this country has produced. A poet, storyteller, musician, singer/songwriter and now author, Wilson has been sharing his stories through his music for most of his life. Adopted (but not formally), raised in the “white” world (Wilson found out as an adult he is Mohawk), a child who felt something was different, a bit out of kilter, never really understanding what or why….but something inside him and the outside world just didn’t click. Instinct.

Shine – Tom Wilson (acoustic)

Shine – Junkhouse

“I wonder what kind of life we all would have had if we’d known who we were. What kind of people we would have been if the lock and key were tossed away, if or roles were defined and our hearts were free. If we had been allowed to make the mistakes, to love and be loved on our own terms.” – ©Beautiful Scars

Wilson details his 1960’s childhood in Hamilton, Ontario…..steel town….guided through his formative years by Bunny and George Wilson, an elderly couple deeply scarred by their own lives, who tried to do what was right for the child they raise as their son. Bunny never spoke of where Wilson came from, vowing to take her secret to the grave….and she did. To Bunny, Wilson was hers and that’s all there was to it….period. At four he saw The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show and like thousands of other kids and adolescents, decided then and there music was going to be his life.

“I entered adulthood unsure of who I was, where I belonged or where I came from, so I made up my story as I went along and in that, music was my answer to everything.” ©Beautiful Scars

Beautiful Scars is the first book I’ve read from cover-to-cover in quite some time. It has all the pre-requisites of a good read. Laughter and good times, instincts ignored, questions unanswered, peccadilloes, love and hope, sorrow, startling discoveries, redemption, new connections and reconnections, family and the pain of  knowing/not knowing carried through 56 years of living before the healing slowly begins. The reader is immediately drawn into Wilson’s world. You become part of the story, a silent bystander but you’re “there”. It’s real. A frank, candid, from-the gut-narrative with names, places and locations we can relate to, we are all familiar with…. and Wilson doesn’t spare himself. He has managed to come out the other end with sanity intact (although he may argue that point). I can hear Wilson’s voice in my head as his life unfolds throughout the pages of the book.

If you ever get the chance to meet Wilson, maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll wrap you up in one of those all encompassing bear hugs of his. Take a look into his eyes. It is there you will see, hidden behind all that hair and his smile, his beautiful scars.

Beautiful Scars – LeE HARVeY OsMOND/Blackie and The Rodeo Kings


All photographs ©2018 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! 

4 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Decisions, George Olliver, Book Review…..and Music!”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Another wonderful column, Pat!

  2. Roger March Says:

    Wish there was an Olliver bio.

  3. George olliver Says:

    Hi Tom: I hope you realize there’s another Tom Wilson who was a a very prominent music booker in the business not to long ago. If I were you I’d add you middle name when you post.
    George Olliver

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