Pat Blythe – A Date, a Concert, a Show……and Music……

It’s Tuesday. It’s sunny. It’s summer…..with a vengeance! It must be “writing day” since it’s not raining and miserable.  As I sit and stare out the front window my mind is a complete blank, overwhelmed with the proverbial “to do” list, my brain is at the point where it’s decided to wipe itself clean. The human hard drive. No back up. Just select “reformat” and be done with it.  A blank page which is basically what I’m looking at. As my mind drifts into nothingness, you know that stare you get when you’re looking but not really “seeing”. Yep, that’s it. I could close my eyes and…..God forbid!!!!……nap!!!!

Copyright Jim Davis 9-19

Where’s the restart button? Ah yes… This is what happens when you wake up at 6:25am and cannot get back to sleep. I am not, under any circumstances, a morning person.

Okay, so java in hand, let’s go back to the last Saturday night of CMW.

Mother and son date night…..

After a Mother’s Day dinner at The Keg with my eldest son and his lady, we meandered over to the Phoenix (they walked, I drove) for what I keep referring to as “Alberta Night”. They had already purchased tickets to see two specific bands so I was happy to spend an evening listening and experiencing good music with my son. I haven’t done that since 1992. In reality it was an Indie88 night (sponsored by Jim Bean of course) with The Rural Alberta Advantage (there’s the “Alberta” part), Alfie, Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs and Juno award winners  Said The Whale. I had never heard any of these bands so this evening was either going to be a treat or…… Oh, and special guests were Teenage Head. Now those guys I know….

Well, the evening turned out to be a ‘treat’. After the utter panic of losing my cell phone and three trips back-and-forth to the vehicle to take yet another look (yes I found it but you really don’t need to hear the entire story) the place had rapidly filled up to all four walls. Heaving, jostling bodies, drinks in hand (or all over someone) claiming their space from which to watch the show. I managed to carve out a small spot stage left for a while then decided to head upstairs to the balcony level. After being told I couldn’t stand against the railing because it was the VIP area, I moved back and at some point the security person noticed the media wristband. She apologized and recommended the catwalk. So, for a person who doesn’t like heights (I close my eyes and face the back of the elevator when going up the CN Tower), that’s where I spent most of my evening…..the catwalk, not the Tower. Pretty sweet vantage point for the camera….except for one strategically misplaced hanging lamp. Looking down I was very grateful I wasn’t propelling my way through that huge sea of bodies. Did you know there are a lot of “follically challenged” heads out there…’s amazing what you see from up above.

The Rural Alberta Advantage (l-r – Amy Cole, Niles Edenloff, Paul Banwatt)

The flow of the show was well executed with awards handed out between each act. From good old rockin’ (Sam Coffey) to the melodious tunes and harmonies of The RAA to the funk and hip hop sounds of East Coaster Alfie  to the unstructured/structured sounds of Said The Whale…..and then there was “The Head”…..still feeding the fire after all these years. The show was pure fun and the entire concert hall was alive with music. My ears were thrilled to hear something new. Even Teenage Head….there’s a first time for everything.

Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs

Back – Sam Coffey, Front – Liam Doyle

What’s going on here…..?

 Ben Worcester with Brad Conner on drums of Said The Whale


l-r – Steve Marshall, Dave “Rave” Desroches, Jack Pedler & Gord Lewis of Teenage Head

Bad Luck Again – Rural Alberta Advantage

No Bra – Alfie

Judy – Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs

(I think this is my theme song……without the guitar)

I Will Follow You – Said The Whale

Picture My Face – Teenage Head

“Emily Rose” – Said The Whale

During the month of May I’ve had a number of guests at Chez Blythe. My “daughter” Colleen was here for eleven days. I then had an AirBnB guest for three nights who had driven here from Maryland to celebrate a nephew’s wedding. This was followed by good friend Greg Simpson who was extending his stay in Toronto for a week to celebrate his daughter’s wedding and walk her down the aisle. Simpson, who is part and parcel of CMW had been holed up at the Sheraton during the conference.  I then had three days to prepare for another long time friend, also from Vancouver (as is Simpson), who was coming into Toronto for the LIFT & Co. Cannabis Expo at Toronto’s convention centre. Verne Andru is the author and graphic artist of the comic book Captain Cannabis. Andru also decided to extend his stay by a few days to catch up with some old friends here in the city.


Road trip……!!!!

I had the pleasure of traveling with a busload of artists of all stripes…. singers, musicians, photographers, painters, sculptors, etc. heading down the 401 to Stratford to see The Tempest staring Martha Henry. The trip, sponsored by CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists Resource Network), took place on a gorgeous day and lunch was spent sitting outside The Festival Theatre enjoying the sunshine.

The Tempest is the last play Shakespeare authored solo. Inspired by the real-life story of an English ship that foundered on the coast of Bermuda in 1609. The crew refused to leave the island paradise and sail on to Virginia. I believe that’s called a mutiny. Power and the will to be free is the theme that runs throughout this year’s Stratford Festival  and what best describes the story, and the individual character’s stories, behind The Tempest.

Martha Henry as Prospero in The Tempest

What’s truly unique about the this production is the protagonist, Prospero, is portrayed by a woman. Martha Henry, born in 1938, has won accolades and awards for her many performances, on stage and in film, throughout her lifetime. Henry played Miranda, Prospero’s daughter, in her very first performance at Stratford in 1962. Fast forward 56 years and she is now the lead. At 80 years of age, Henry is a powerful performer who moves around the stage with a sure foot wearing her favourite pair of shoes from the wardrobe department.  Henry is also one of CSARN’s artistic advisors and after her performance, took 30 minutes of her time to speak to our group and answer any questions we might have. Gracious, patient, sparked with a wicked sense of humour, Henry is petite in stature but a presence who commands your attention. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have finally seen one of her performances. This is my third go round with this play and for the first time I finally understand the story.

My dad was heavily involved with The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario on the volunteer committee for many years. When the theatre was struggling with poor attendance the volunteers dedicated themselves to bringing The Grand back to its former glory. One of the things my dad loved to do was make the trays of the food for intermissions and after show cocktails. Involved in the Richmond Drama Society in Richmond, North Yorkshire as a young man, my dad loved the theatre and acting. When I introduced myself to Henry at Stratford, she took one look at me and determined we had met somewhere before. I mentioned my dad’s name and her face instantly lit up with recognition. She remembered him. That was the icing on the cake! My dad would be thrilled to bits.

Tom McCamus

A very happy surprise was to see my friend Tom McCamus perform in the same play. His appearance on stage was totally unexpected. I’ve known McCamus since our high school days and have watched his acting career flourish from several rows back. His film work includes Beautiful Dreamers, I Love a Man in Uniform, Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Sweet Hereafter. He became known to a much wider audience portraying Mason Eckhart on the Marvel TV series Mutant X. McCamus is most at home on the stage having performed extensively in the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario and in the Stratford Festival. For the first few minutes I saw Tom McCamus, the personal friend. Then I settled in and for the remainder of the play I saw Stephano. That’s acting….!

Motown The Musical…..

Cast of Motown portraying The Jackson 5

My Christmas present . Dinner and show with my eldest, Aarron. We dined at N’awlins (fabulous crab cakes), lingered over dessert while New Orleans jazz was performed in the background (the trio were brilliant, especially the singer) and then sauntered over to the theatre. The performances were all spot on. The singing and dancing….well in my mind I’m singing and dancing right along with them. It’s the story (really the highlights) of Motown and the key players with Berry Gordy and Diana Ross front and centre.

All the actor’s portrayals of their characters were right on the mark but  the actress who played Ross , Lashundra Trenyce Cobbins, was superb. Her voice was easily a match for Ross’s. Cobbins, who goes by the name Trenyce, is an American singer and actress who was a finalist on the second season of American Idol and is known for her work in musical theatre. Ross’s signature move to close her show is to head into the crowd while singing what has become her signature song, the “waltz” she was adamant she didn’t want to perform (and fought Gordy on), Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand. Ross encourages individual members of the audience to sing into the mic with her and then has everyone join hands and sing the chorus. Trenyce closed the show with this song, precisely as Ross does…..and it was rather extraordinary.

I love mother and son date night.

Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand – Diana Ross (live)

Baby I Need Your Lovin’ – The Four Tops

Bye Bye Baby – Mar Wells

Ball of Confusion – The Temptations

Dancing In The Street – Martha & The Vandellas

Brick House – The Commodores

I’ll Be There – Jackson 5

I am SOOOOOOO excited…..can hardly wait for this movie to be released. My favourite band and my favourite singer.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Trailer


All photographs ©2018 A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” except for Tom McCamus, The Tempest with Martha Henry and the cast from Motown portraying The Jackson 5


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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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 – A Date, a Concert, a Show……and Music……”

  1. So this is what you were doing whilst sitting on the couch with laptop in lap! Great article and thanks for the mention!

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