Pat Blythe – Jack Richardson Music Awards and Music Week…What a Blast!!!

There is SO much to share with you. It’s been such an incredible week celebrating Jack Richardson. A full week of music was such a blast and the Jack Richardson London Music Awards Show……fantastic. What a fitting tribute to a such a remarkable man who was so influential in the Canadian music industry and an amazing friend to all the musicians who crossed his path. I firmly believe Canada wouldn’t be home to one of the greatest bands in the world if Richardson hadn’t mortgaged his house for that first album and subsequent number one hit. I personally salute the man who believed so much in Canada he refused to go south. One of the most respected and sought after producers in the world, Richardson dedicated his career to his mother country and I love that he settled in my home town of London, Ontario.

Jack Richardson London Music Week…

The Jazz and Classical Awards gala was held at the Aeolian Hall the evening of April 8. I arrived in London too late to make it down. The indigenous group Eagle Flight Singers were named the World Music winners and cellist Christine Newland took home the classical instrumental solo award. I have seen Newland perform a few times, the last with Sara Smith who was nominated in the rock category. To see the list of winners click here  http://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-jazz-classical-and-world-musicians-honoured

The following evening, April 9, was a celebration of Women of London Music presented by Doll House Showcase. Juno nominee Emm Gryner, whom I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at Hugh’s Room Live, was the headliner. Megan Schroder, Camie and Jenn Rayna also performed while rock ‘n’ roll photographer John Rowlands (he of Bowie’s “The Archer” fame) clicked away. The Doll House Showcase, created by London singer/songwriter Laura Gagnon in 2015, is a platform for Canadian female musicians to promote their original work.  Unfortunately I wasn’t watching the clock properly and realized when I began to get ready to go out, the evening had started and hour prior. Damn!!!!

Okay…next. It’s now Tuesday and I’m concentrating on getting the column (last week’s) finished (which I did). A quiet evening in with mom playing dice and drinking tea. How very civilized….. Looking back, I’m glad I had the time to relax. The rest of the week proved to be a barn burner…..almost literally (at least my feet were on fire)…..

Tara Scott

A small break here to again thank social media expert/promoter/booker/ roadie/photographer Tara Scott. A woman who wears numerous caps and headsets with grace, attitude and aplomb. If you think I have energy, you oughta meet Scott. The woman could replace Niagara Falls if you plugged her in. Always on the go, Scott is also busy raising a budding actor and his much younger sibling, who is currently studying his way through public school. Along with Jeff Bialkowski, Scott runs Indie Wednesday’s at Fitzray’s Restaurant and Lounge (who, by the way, won the Jack Richardson Award for Best Live Venue) and is part of their promo team. Scott is also photographer and social media person for Rockin’ Wheel http://www.rockinwheel.com/, manages Dustbin Flowers (Bialkowski’s band), roadies for various music events in London….there’s not much this women doesn’t do but she loves working behind the scenes. Scott was deeply in JRLMA music week, particularly with Battle of The High School Bands and the awards night gala. I’d be terrified to look at her calendar. This “mature” broad (moi) has much to learn from her. We had such a good time working and hanging together. JRLMA…..you need this woman!!!

It’s now Wednesday…..Ten venues, 19 performers, one night….ready, set GO! All I can say is, thank heaven London is not a huge city and parking is a breeze. Most of the venues are walkable, but still……. First up  The Bull and Barrel with Tara Scott…..early. Melissa Megan was on at 5:30 followed by Julia Haggarty followed by, no kidding, line dancing. Actually watching a crowded dance floor with everyone two-stepping in unison is kind of neat (and very co-ordinated). I was tempted to get up and throw in a Continental or Electric Slide just to confuse them, but with great resistance, I held back.  I’m not an aficionado of Country music but these two ladies could convert me. Powerful voices, each with their own distinctive edge.

Melissa Megan

Country singer Megan is the first County artist to win the Honey Jam Barbados prize at Honey Jam Canada.  A respected  artist development program, Honey Jam Canada has helped shape the talents of prominent Canadian artist such as Nelly Furtado and Jully Black. A growing presence in the Canadian Country scene Megan is also studying for her Masters degree in Cognitive, Developmental and Brain Sciences at Western University.

Stay – Melissa Megan

Julia Haggarty

Singer/songwriter Haggarty is a founding member of a cappella group Six Vocal Ensemble (Six) with whom she released two albums. The first album was nominated for six  CARA awards and the second won Folk Album of The Year in 2015. Haggarty is a graduate of Western University with a BMus. Hon Voice Performance, ArtDp Voice Performance and although she plays both piano and guitar, her first passion is singing. Haggarty emceed the JRLM Awards night with co-host R&B singer Chad Price with the duo opening the gala singing  Bob Seger’s Night Moves, a Richardson-produced album. Haggarty can belt it out with the best of them.  Haggarty was also nominated in the Country category. She won!

I Can’t Stand Still – Julia Haggarty

Leaving the line dancing behind, I head to Fitzray’s to see Kate Channer and Brock Stonefish.

Kate Channer

Channer is actually the niece of an old high school friend. He should be one very proud uncle. I loved Channer’s voice, her authenticity and her ease on stage. Another artist who builds a rapport with the crowd and makes them part of the show. It was acoustic night and Channer sang solo. Apparently, however, there is the Kate Channer Band and the next time I’m in London I’ll be looking out for them. According to her website she a little bit rock, pop, punk and rockabilly. Yep, I agree. A commanding voice, assured, present, confident. She left a definite impression.

Kate Channer performing @ Fitzray’s

Forgive – Kate Channer (acoustic)

Rhythm of My Song – Kate Channer Band

Brock Stonefish

Blues guitarist/singer/songwriter Brock Stonefish followed Channer.  Stonefish was also up for an award in the Blues category. Of the Lenape tribe and a member of the Moravian Delaware Nation, Stonefish has been writing and performing for almost 20 years. He’s traveled around North America opening for BB King and sharing the stage with KISS, Lynard Skynard, Our Lady Peace as well as high school classmate Serena Ryder.  Educating listeners about the history of the indigenous people is all wrapped up in his lyrics. Stonefish is an “organic” performer having never released an album. He prefers “in person” performing .With his big voice and singing from the heart he’s teaching and spreading the word, one note, one word at a time.

Pass The Feather – Brock Stonefish

A 20-step stroll over to The Wine Bar to see classical/jazz vocalist Hilary Welch and bassist Steve Clark perform. Clark performed with a five-string bass….I’m beginning to see these more and more frequently. Great for really low notes. I love that his bio says, “I don’t have a day job, so can be anywhere, anytime.”  Welch is originally from Sudbury where she taught jazz singing and worked in radio. She moved to London and is now a morning radio personality on 102.3 JACK FM. Welch initially debuted her vocal talents with The London Jazz Orchestra in London in 2016. The Wine Bar is tiny, probably seats about 30 people, if you’re lucky, but a nice intimate setting for a jazz duo. It was jammed….standing room only.

Hillary Welch & Steve Clark

Then a relaxed amble down Dundas Street (and memory lane) to the Jack Richardson Hall of Fame in the old Nash Jewellers building. It’s jaw-dropping the projects Jack Richardson was involved in. He’s one individual I regret not having ever met. A tour through Rum Runners upstairs and then through another set of doors, down the stairs and out the back to the London Music Hall. The owners of this building have done an amazing job of preserving and restoring some of London’s history while bringing it up to 21st century standards. I wish there was more of this going on. Breathing new life, with care and consideration, into our past….a salute to stories and times of long ago, welcoming all of it into the present and creating a whole new narration for the future.

Construction season has begun….new beginnings for downtown London

Through the “looking glass” at the JR Hall of Fame

Rum Runners was hosting The Stanley Brown Blues Band and Double Clutch Band (who won the in the Blues category) and were the house band for the awards show on April 15. These guys can play anything as was evidenced at the gala.

Wall art at Rum Runners

So, how many venues did I actually make it to?  Well….four venues and seven performers. Many of the artists had the same start time so, short of cloning it would have been impossible to see each and every one.  Loved every minute of trying though.

It looks like I’ll have to break this up into a “two-parter”.  I’m super late submitting (yet again). Way too much going on and I have a ton of photos to edit from the awards show. Thursday was a busy night, Friday was three different show at yes, three different venues. Saturday I stayed put as the freezing rain hit London. Sunday….the big event!

Cheers!

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

=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 – Jack Richardson Music Awards and Music Week…What a Blast!!!”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    I can’t wait for Part 2! Great column, Pat.

  2. Greg Simpdon\\\son Says:

    thanks for the great article, Pat, on an event that is close to my heart…just a note that the Hall of Fame is, officially, The Jack Richardson LONDON MUSIC Hall of Fame, and though Jack makes up a large part of the displays, one must also acknowledge the presence of artists as varied as Guy Lombardo and Thundermug, among many others. It’s ALL of London’s Music History, other than those yet to be inducted…can’t wait for part two as you haven’t even, yet, got to our late night chocolate sundaes…

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