Pat Blythe – Women of The “Traps” – Part Three with The Captain, a Play and Some Music….

It’s been a rather entertaining week. Out with friends and seeing friends. Toronto is slowly waking up to spring and the sunny, warmer days are helping. Not to say Mother Nature won’t send us into another ice age as the grand finale but we are indeed edging ever closer to spring….then summer…and all those glorious music festivals. Canadian Music Week (CMW) starts us off every year, this time May 7-13 followed by Lift Cannabis Expo May 25-27. Two excellent reasons to get out, enjoy the music and inhale that spring ayre……deeply.

I have a long-time friend coming in from Vancouver for Lift. Verne Andru has spent 40+ years in the entertainment business as a writer/designer/ illustrator and animator/film-maker. Andru will be ensconced at his booth during the conference to promote his comic book, Captain Cannabis. The first comic was published April 4, 1977 but due to the “reefer madness” environment at the time the project was shelved until 2006. Now, in the 21st century we’re ready for the Captain as he celebrates his 40th birthday with a new anniversary edition. Drop by, say hello, have a chat and pick up your copy of Captain Cannabis.

Oh how far we have come…..

Reefer Madness – 1936

….and now for the ladies

 

Maureen “Moe” Tucker

Musician and singer Maureen ‘Moe’ Tucker was born in 1944 and is best known as the drummer for The Velvet Underground. Originally influenced by Babatunde Olatunji, a Nigerian drummer and recording artist , Tucker is entirely self-taught, teaching herself by playing along to songs on her second-hand drum kit. She stands instead of sits, sometimes dispenses with keeping the beat altogether, uses mallets instead of sticks and rarely employs cymbals.  In Rolling Stone’s list of the top 100 female drummers Tucker is #77.  According to the magazine , Hers was the off-kilter thump that spawned a million bands. That’s how influential the deceptively primitive, artfully sophisticated pocket Maureen “Moe” Tucker brought to The Velvet Underground’s classic lineup….impacting artists ranging from Patti Smith to R.E.M. to Galaxie 500 to Nirvana.”

Death in Vegas – Moe Tucker

The Velvet Underground, 1965 – L-R – Lou Reed, Nico, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, **Andy Warhol; Front L-R – Maureen Tucker and unknown pretty boy

*Although not an official member of the band, Nico is known for her vocals on The Velvet Underground’s first album “The Velvet Underground & Nico”. A German singer, songwriter, model, actress, Nico was a Warhol protégée.

**Warhol was managing The Velvet Underground at the time

In 1965 Tucker was an IBM keypunch operator when she was recruited by guitarist Sterling Morrison as The Velvet Underground’s new drummer, the replacement for the departing Angus MacLise. Tucker also sang co-lead vocals on a few of the band’s hits including After Hours and I’m Sticking With You. She went on maternity leave in early 1970, returning  later in the year (after the departure of Lou Reed) to tour Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Britain with the band. By 1971 she had decided to retire for good to raise her growing family. (Tucker has five children) She has avoided the limelight , preferring to focus on a quieter life in Georgia.  Tucker has stepped out of the shadows on occasion over the years, touring with the band Half Japanese in 1989, recording a solo album, briefly joining The Velvet Underground for a European reunion tour, writing, singing and playing bass (yes bass) with the fusion group Kropotkins. In 2017 she performed at the Grammy Salute to Music Legends. During one interview with Perfect Sound Forever, it was mentioned that the Velvets were legends and it was surprising Tucker hadn’t taken advantage of that. Tucker’s rather surprising response, “But I didn’t know that then. The way I found out that anybody even had a memory of it was when I was working on Playin’ Possom. I decided to read some music magazines just for fun and see what’s going on. After a month or two, I realized that every issues of whatever you picked up mentioned us five or six times as an influence or ‘you must have this record’. That was a BIG shock to me. In those days it was ‘Lou and John (Cale) all the time. I still don’t consider myself a musician really….it wasn’t something I thought about at all.”

I’m Sticking With You – The Velvet Underground

PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED PHOTO OF MOE TUCKER TAKEN BY TERRY TOLKIN (Zabriskie Point Studios, NYC, 1997, during the recording of “The Lives”)

Tucker’s more recent notoriety came from a serious of comments and interviews regarding the state of politics in the U.S. In the past few years she has advocated for the Tea Party, Donald Trump and the removal of Barak Obama. She still plays drums….standing.

Gina Schock

The epiphany happened at the age of eleven in 1969. Led Zeppelin were opening for The Who. (All I can think of is what an amazing bill to see these two powerhouse bands in a single show) Big brother, on babysitting duty, hauled little sister to the concert. That’s all it took. First it was the bass, then the guitar….but it was sliding behind the drum kit that fit best. Natural, flowing, effortless. No lessons…just headphones and a collection of albums.

Drumming since the age of 15, Baltimore girl Gina Schock began her professional musical career at age 16 joining a band called Edie and the Eggs, featuring John Waters protégée Edith Massey. When the “Eggs” broke up Schock joined one of Baltimore’s first new wave bands. After practicing six nights a week, four hours every night, for a year, the band finally played their first gig. After their fourth, they broke up. A devastated Schock decided she’d never drum again. That lasted a week. She joined a local punk rock band, then moved to California, moved back to Baltimore, headed to New York, back to Baltimore, finally deciding on L.A. In 1979 she traded her car for her dad’s pickup, built a cover over the truck bed, packed her bags and equipment, and with a girlfriend, headed west  with a slight detour through San Francisco. Two months after arriving in L.A. she was The Go-Go’s new drummer. The band had been together a scant six months when Schock went to see them perform. After inviting a couple of them back to her home they played a few tunes together and simply gelled. The band fired their drummer and Schock was in. As the more experienced musician and performer in the group, having already played in clubs in Baltimore and NYC during the previous four years, Schock eventually instilled a sense of professionalism and work ethic into the band. Practicing once a month wasn’t going to work, it had to be five times a week. To Schock this wasn’t just for fun. Two years later the band released their first album Beauty and The Beat.

Gina Schock of The Go-Go’s

The Go-Go’s performing in Denmark (opening for The Police)

In 1984 the band was about to hit the tour circuit to promote their new album Talk Show. In a frightening turn of events, doctors had discovered a hole in Schock’s heart during a routine checkup. The opening was the size of a marble and needed to fixed immediately.  Schock underwent heart surgery and was back out and on the road two months later. Just a year later, in 1985, The Go-Go’s disbanded. However, throughout the 1990’s until the present day they have continued to perform albeit on a rather sporadic, ad hoc basis.  Schock maintains her chops, performing with various artists including A-Ha (TV promos), House of Schock with Vance DeGeneres (yes brother of Ellen) as well as honing her skills as a songwriter. Her music has appeared in several films including Bull Durham, Superstar and The Accused. Schock is also one of the co-writers for Miley Cyrus’s album Breakout.

Gina Schock Drumming (on everything but the drums)

Growing up, Schock’s friends would spend their allowances on make-up while she headed for the local drum store to buy skins and sticks and the music store to buy records. It paid off. She idolized John Bonham and his “incredible foot”. In an interview with Modern Drummer she stated, “There are so many drummers I admire, it would take an hour to name them all. But as far as my drumming goes, the two drummers who probably influenced me the most when I was growing up were John Bonham and Charlie Watts.” Did she have any female drummers for role models? “I never paid any attention to women, to be honest. I was listening to Led Zeppelin.”

Can’t Stop The World – The Go-Go’s

A minimalist drummer, Schock adds, “Playing in this band (The Go-Go’s) has helped me learn how to not play so much. It’s not like playing in a three piece band where you have to fill in every space. I think it’s good to be a bit diverse; be able to play the minimal if that’s what’s called for, but also be able to fill in a three-piece. For the band I’m in now, I’m thinking more and more that the less you play, the better it is. It’s not what you play as much as it’s how you play it. That’s why Charlie Watts, to me, is as good as anybody. He plays the minimal, but everything he plays is perfect for the music that he’s doing.” ….and for any of you drummer “geeks”, Schock plays on a five-piece Rogers kit with an 8″ Ludwig snare,  Zildjian cymbals with  Tama hardware keeping it all together. Bass pedal is a French model called a Caroline. ….and the lady tunes her toms…..top and bottom!!!

In The Middle of Nowhere – House of Schock

….around the GTA….

So, what have I been up to? A private performance, mother and son date night with my eldest and an incredible concert in support of a man who has supported musicians simply by loving them, their music and designing 700 album/CD covers to date….and counting.

Secret Broadcast held a secret showcase for a limited number of invitees at ArrayMusic here in Toronto. Not an easy place to get to, located in the middle of a knot of one-way streets, all going the wrong way. The band performed a short set of their newer material and a few songs I also recognized.  I love their music, their passion, their energy and one of these days…..the album. I really need to learn how to dance while taking photos. Their performances are so few and far between when both Matt Lightstone and Curtis Harding each extended invitations I was quick to bite. A lovely, intimate space, the band provided incredible, literally in-your-face entertainment as well as the libations. Guest performance on sax by Gene Hardy rounded out the last two songs of the set. Hardy is also a challenge to catch live. A much in demand saxophonist,  it’s always an unexpected pleasure to hear him play. I’m now discovering that the likelihood of catching him at a Secret Broadcast performance is a pretty high. Band members are Matt Lightstone on guitar and lead vox, Curtis Harding on bass, keyboard/piano and vox, Will Bennett on lead guitar and power drummer Keith Heppler.  Thank you for the invite guys. It was amazingly wonderful to see you once again.

L-R – Will Bennett, Keith Heppler, Matt Lightstone, Curtis Harding

L-R – Bennett , Matt Lightstone, Curtis Harding

…..with Gene Hardy on sax

Friday night was date night with my son Aarron.  My Christmas gift….a ticket to see Come From Away and a pre-show dinner. We enjoyed our repast at N’Awlins Jazz Bar & Dining which is just a hop, skip and a jump from the Royal Alexandra Theatre.  Famous for their Cajun Creole the food, as always, is deelish and the service is friendly and top notch. I even tried the alligator skewers and I highly recommend the crab cakes….and their bread pudding…..OMG!! Carbohydrate and caramel sex in a bowl. It should be illegal.  N’awlins is a popular spot for music as well with great jazz and blues every night of the week. Intimate, warm and welcoming, it’s my favourite restaurant in Toronto’s Entertainment District.

I can’t say enough about how amazingly wonderful this show is. Incredible talent….12 actors performing as both villagers and passengers. This is a story of individual stories….how some of the events surrounding  911 developed, forcing the diversion of 38 planes  to Gander, Newfoundland, affecting and impacting 7,000 passengers and the small, local population of 9,000. It is funny, witty, heartbreaking, moving, sexy….drawing  you in until you find you’re part of the story yourself. I sat through the entire performance with a lump in my throat  but that didn’t stop me from laughing and singing.

The play, written by Toronto husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, unfolds as a single, 100-minute act. With no intermission, the story keeps you so spellbound you don’t even notice you can’t move your legs anymore. “The idea to merge the two acts came from the show’s New York-based producers, Junkyard Dog Productions……They pointed out that “no one who arrived in Gander got to stop the experience and step out and say, ‘How do you think it’s going?’ says Hein. It was a continued experience and needed to go from beginning to end.” Toronto Star

The play began as 45-minute presentation at Sheridan College in 2012, became two acts and then morphed into the single act presented today. The props are few, the set is simple, comprised of chairs used in various configurations to resemble the seating on a plane, a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, a cafeteria, the airport and a pub. The individual stories of both traveler and host are shared, the experience deeply affecting and forever changing lives. A ‘made in Canada’ story, the telling of the tale does  Canada proud and is an superb presentation of human kindness and caring….and yes, love.

 

A Man Called Wrycraft

Michael Wrycraft enjoying the show

On Sunday I headed to Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre to attend (an photograph of course) a benefit concert for the much loved and respected Michael Wrycraft. It is impossible to tell Wrycraft’s story or do the music or this event justice in what remains of this column (and I’m running super late). My sincere thanks to George Koller for responding so quickly to my request for information.  I  still have almost 1,000 frames to review and edit and so much to tell you about the performances, it will have to wait until next Wednesday. Big, big, HUGE thank you to friend and neighbour Sandy Bolyki who treated me to dinner and this event. I’m almost at a loss for words to describe both the evening and the fantastical performances….but I’ll check with the thesaurus and find some. The performers are some of the cream of Canadian musicians and their stories deserve to be told

I will say this, to all of you who participated in whatever fashion, whether on stage or behind the scenes, you created magic.

Cheers!

…..and now a few tunes

Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – Maureen Tucker

Mama Let Him Play – Jerry Doucette

The Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide – The Kings

Innocence – Harlequin

My Girl – Chiliwack

Elle King, Live From Daryl’s House – Ex’s and Oh’s

(thanks to Roxanne Tellier for posting this)

Photographs of Secret Broadcast and Michael Wrycraft are ©2018 A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”

Sources

Wikipedia, Modern Drummer, Tom Tom Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine, Toronto Star, Perfect Sound Forever

=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! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Women of The “Traps” – Part Three with The Captain, a Play and Some Music….”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Another interesting column, Pat!

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