Pat Blythe – A Tribute to Jack Richardson, Tom Cochrane and Music

Back in London, Ontario for the Jack Richardson Music Awards (JRMA) and Jack Richardson Music Week. My home town and it’s about time I attended. There are multiple events happening every night. Great Lakes Blues Society presents Bill Durst; Doll House Showcase celebrates the Women of London in Music with Juno nominee Emm Gryner; Battle of The High School Bands in honor of Richardson’s love of teaching and encouragement of London’s young musicians ($2,500 top prize); an oral history of the London music scene from the 1960’s forward presented by Greg Simpson and Bob Klanac; Jack’s London Live….a full evening devoted to promoting live music and the live music venues in London (wonder how many I can cover in a single evening) and of course, to cap off  the week Jack Richardson Music Awards presentation and gala.

My good friend Tara Scott, photographer/social media expert/ winner of the JRMA award in 2017 in the Contributor category, has been heavily involved in the London music scene for over 20 years. As a promoter, roadie, photographer and crusader of all things music in London, Scott is once again taking on numerous duties during music week and I am excited to see her and spend some time with her behind the scenes and taking a few pics myself.

Jack Richardson….a brief history…..just in case you didn’t know…..

Jack Richardson(l) at the soundboard

Toronto-born Jack Richardson is best known for producing The Guess Who’s biggest hit records from 1969 to 1975, mortgaging his house to make their first record in 1968. The album…..Wheatfield Soul. The studio…..Phil Ramone’s A&R Recording studio in NYC. The international hit….These Eyes….and Richardson never looked back, becoming one of the most in demand record producers in the world.

Wheatfield Soul – The Guess Who

As an account executive with McCann-Erickson, Richardson came up with the concept of pairing music (particularly Canadian bands) and soda pop. In this case, soft drink giant Coca-Cola Ltd. His first project was a full-length album called A Wild Pair with The Guess Who on one side and The Staccatos on the flip side. (The Staccatos later became The Five Man Electrical Band). To acquire a copy of A Wild Pair, fans had to remit 10 bottle cap liners and a buck for shipping directly to Coca-Cola. Since the album was not distributed through normal retail channels they’d be a rarity today. If you happen across one, 50 years later, I’d say you’ve got a classic winner. Richardson continued to manage a number of successful campaigns for Coca-Cola using Canadian acts such as Bob Curtola, David Clayton-Thomas and Jack London as well as the Supremes and Stevie Wonder. It was immediately after this he decided to mortgage the family home to produce Wheatfield Soul.

A Wild Pair – The Staccatos and The Guess Who

Departing McCann-Erickson in 1968, Richardson, along with three partners, opened Nimbus 9 production company. Nimbus 9 offered their clients studio time along with full multi-media services. In a upbeat (or downbeat) or two, recording became the primary focus with Richardson producing Alice Cooper (Love It To Death), Bob Seger (Night Moves), Max Webster (Universal Juveniles), Moxy, Poco….38 gold and platinum albums in total.

Interview with Jack Richardson

Remembering Jack Richardson (w/Bob Ezrin and others)

Known as “the godfather of the Canadian music industry”, an article published by the National Music Centre notes Richardson, “as one of the key supporters in the formation of Canadian content regulations, along with CANCON pioneer Stan Klees, Jack was involved in many aspects of the music business, helping to ensure that Canada’s recording artists and producers were given a fair shot to make records and get airplay at home, rather than having to go south of the border.”

You’re Absolutely Right – Five Man Electrical Band

Juno-nominated producer, Order of Canada recipient, awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN awards in 1998, Richardson was first and foremost a musician, beginning as a bass-player first for the Westernaires and then performing with Bobby Gimby’s orchestra in the 1940’s. A key figure in the London music scene, Richardson became part of the Fanshawe College faculty for 20 years, teaching the Music Arts Industry Program. A fervent proponent of Canada’s young artists, Richardson worked and taught well into his seventies, retiring in 2007. In 2002 the Juno Award for Producer of the Year was named after Richardson and continues to honour his legacy to this day. Richardson died in 2011. As synchronicity would have it, Burton Cummings happened to be performing in London the night Richardson passed away. The entire performance was dedicated to Richardson’s memory.

Jack Richardson with Dominic Troiano at Nimbus 9 (photographer unknown)

The non-profit Jack Richardson Music Awards came to fruition in 2005. These awards are presented to up-and-coming bands and solo performers from London and surrounding area. A fitting tribute to an influential teacher and mentor, a man passionate about Canada, a man who worked tirelessly to ensure Canadian musicians and their contributions took their place in the international world of music.

Just For Me and You – Poco

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider….life is indeed a highway……

I’ve photographed hundreds of bands and solo artists in small and large venue. covering a reasonably large swath of Ontario. I currently work with the musical theatrical production ONES as their official photographer, wending my way around countless large stages and going astray in theatres around Ontario. But as a rock ‘n’ roll baby I’ve always wanted to shoot a rock concert…..three songs, no flash be damned!!! Full access, on, off and behind stage. Finally I had the chance! Tom Cochrane & Red Rider were performing at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines  I was presented (thank you Jeff Jones and Gerry Lee) with the opportunity to photograph the concert.  To say I was excited would be a gross understatement.

No Regrets – Tom Cochrane

Then I got sick……slammed…..fever, chills, no voice, bad cough, basketball jammed into the sinuses  kind of sick. This was NOT good timing! In London with mom, trying desperately not to pass this on to her, I finally felt well enough to head back to Toronto on Friday…..the day before D-day. Relapse Friday night. Fever is back. This is worse than “not good”. Eating ibuprofen like candy and gulping down my apple cider/ginger/garlic/lemon/honey concoction, I crashed. Woke up Saturday morning feeling relatively human. Showered and on the road by 10:30 am with arrival in St. Kits by noon. Just enough time to grab supplies for Easter dinner on Sunday before meeting with Rob Nicholls at 1pm to take me on a tour of the facility. (note to self….never, ever shop on a holiday weekend) Nicholls greeted me with parking pass and all-access badge in hand. I could get lost freely throughout the facility (and I did a number of times).

l-r – Ken Greer, Tim Hicks, Davide Di Renzo, Tom Cochrane, Jeff Jones

A beautiful new design, this all wood theatre doesn’t have the regular stage wings. Instead, three huge 30 foot tall doors pivot to allow access off and on stage. Closed, you are literally on stage with nowhere to go but become part of the act. Concerned? OMG….I was having kittens about being trapped on stage with the band. Picking up an instrument and blending in was not an option. Maybe I could duck behind the drummer? However, my fears were allayed when Nicholls confirmed the doors are never closed during a performance. Panic attack subsided.

White Hot – Tom Cochrane & Red Rider

Lunch, meet the band, sound check, dinner and…..it’s show time! I was in heaven attempting to be in all places at once to get as many photos as I could from all angles. One of my favourite spots is behind drummer. If there’s enough space I love to back up and include the audience with the band together in one shot. That opportunity comes by rarely so I grab it when I have the chance. This particular stage is so huge it felt like half a football field and I took full advantage.  So, 1,333 frames later I’m still sorting through them. At the closing of the show, Cochrane introduced local country singer/songwriter Tim Hicks who hails from the Niagara region. I was so busy taking photos and trying to get Cochrane’s nose print off my lens I can’t remember the first song Hicks sang. However, to close off the show Cochrane give him the opening lead on Life Is A Highway. What a blast!!!! The entire show, from start to finish, was simply incredible. When you get the chance to get that “up close and personal” with internationally renowned musicians of their calibre, well, the mind boggles and the camera works overtime.

Tom Cochrane on harmonica….so close and moving fast

Light In The Tunnel/Human Race

Ken Greer (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards/vocals), Jeff Jones (bass/vocals), Davide DiRenzo (drums/vocals) and Cochrane….they light up the night and set it on fire.

…..and a fitting tribute to the Humboldt tragedy…..just posted today, April 11, 2018.

Big League – Tom Cochrane

Concert Photo Gallery. 9 Shots.

Sound check

Tom Cochrane & Ken Greer

Tom Cochrane & Jeff Jones

l-r – Jeff Jones, Ken Greer, Tom Cochrane

Face-off….

Ken Greer & Tim Hicks

Davide Di Renzo

A full house…..

Finale….all together now……

Cheers!

All photographs ©A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” except Jack Richardson and Jack with Dominic Troiano

=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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