Pat Blythe – London Bluesfest — Savoy Brown, Foghat, Mark Farner…..and Music!

I’m leaving my personal thoughts and musings to the end time……I’m still catching up with the summer and all the wonderful music I heard, the people I met and all those little moments in between.

So….starting with London Bluesfest….my inner teenager was agog, amazed and humbled by the lineup this year. Performers I never had a chance to see and performers that brought back some wonderful memories. I arrived in London on the Friday, just in time to pick up my badge, connect with friend Elaine Sawyer (whose company Wich is Wich was catering the event) and catch Savoy Brown and Foghat.

l-r – Garnet Grimm, Kim Simmonds, Pat DeSalvo

When I was growing up in London, Ontario, the big concerts happened out at Treasure Island Gardens, much too far for me to travel and it wasn’t a stop on the local bus route. Enter “the boyfriend”…….with a car!!! Our first date was a concert at the Gardens with Long John Baldry, Savoy Brown and Malo. Thrilled and nervous doesn’t begin to describe the butterflies I felt that night. I remember trying on several different outfits and pacing, wearing a path in the living room rug, so sure he wasn’t going to show up, but show up he did!  When John pulled into my parent’s driveway in his candy apple red, 1965 Mustang my legs became Jello and my brain went into overdrive with that ridiculous, giddy excitement you feel when it’s way over the top and whatever comes out of your mouth is pure gibberish. Unfortunately I still get that way…..something I never seemed to grow out of. Enroute to the concert I made a concerted effort to say no more than a few words, terrified I’d say the wrong thing. The rest of the night I lost it, becoming part of the overall excitement. It was overwhelming, the rush I felt surrounded by music, music that just filled the stadium and me at the same time until I thought I’d explode. I’d never heard it so big or so loud before.  ….and John? We dated off and on for many years (he was my eldest son’s godfather). He sold that Mustang a year after that date for a 1973 Mustang Mach I in British racing green. It’s my favourite car to this day? If I ever win the lottery……………….

Kim Simmonds

So here I was, almost 50 years later, ON the stage, photographing my memories. Yep, that stupid, giddy feeling overtook me and I was once again transported back in time. Just prior to the concert Sawyer introduced me to Savoy Brown founder Kim Simmonds, the one constant and only original member of the band. Born in Newbridge, Wales and now residing in New York, the then seventeen-year-old Simmonds formed the Savoy Brown Blues Band in 1965. By 1967 the blues wave was peaking and by 1968/69 blues was losing popularity and Simmonds felt his career was over. When the offer to tour America came, it changed his life. Considered one of the founding fathers of British blues, Simmonds, along with Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums, is still touring today, promoting the Chicago-style blues/rock/boogie he’s always loved, around the world.

l-r – Pat DeSalvo, Kim Simmonds, Garnet Grimm

Kim Simmonds

After the show I sat and talked to Simmonds for quite a while. A true gentleman and quite the storyteller, he was very patient and quite happy to answer any questions I had, responding honestly and openly. The conversation was “off the record” so no tidbits here. He did, however, introduce me to a band he had been listening to, Noah and The Whale, a British Indie rock band from of all places, Twickenham. Apparently this was not the type of music he normally listened to but there was something there that inspired him to, as they say, “keep on keeping on….”

The “after show” group shot……

l-r – Garnet Grimm, Kim Simmonds, Pat DeSalvo

Looking In – Savoy Brown (full album)

Raw Sienna – Savoy Brown (full album)

The next band to hit the stage was Foghat. This British band was founded in 1971 by three former members of Savoy Brown, Dave Peverett (guitar), Tony Stevens (bass) and Roger Earl (drums). Rod Price (guitar/slide guitar) was the fourth member. Foghat, a nonsensical word from a childhood game, have produced eight gold records and two platinum albums (one is a double-platinum) over the course of their almost 50 years together. More rock than blues, and thanks to Price, famous for their use of the electric slide guitar, Foghat continues to record and perform with drummer Roger Earl as the only original member.

The diverse backgrounds of the current members of Foghat add their individual flavours while keeping true to the original sound of the band. They include lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Gary Moore & Humble Pie); lead/slide guitarist Bryan Bassett (Wild Cherry, Molly Hatchet) and Rodney O’Quinn (Eli, Pat Travers). I had the opportunity to converse with Earl and the band after their performance and Sawyer’s food tent was a great place to relax and talk. It was then I found out Earl had been one of the original members of Savoy Brown and the reason he joined them on stage that night for a couple tunes. When he found out I was attempting to learn the drums, he was seriously interested and asked me a few pertinent questions (one being the obvious….brand of drums). He then excused himself and returned a few minutes later with a set of his drumsticks, signed, and gifted them to me. My thanks was a hug and then they were gone. Gentlemen all…..

Espied by bassist Rodney O’Quinn

Rodney O’Quinn and Charlie Huhn

The boys of the bands – l-r – Bryan Bassett (Foghat), Scott Holt, Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown), Pat DeSalvo (Savoy Brown), Garnett Grimm (Savoy Brown), Charlie Huhn (Foghat), Tony Bullard (New Lords/Black Oak Arkansas)

Slow Ride – Foghat

I Just Wanna Make Love To You – Foghat

Fool For The City – Foghat (full album)

It’s now day three of the festival and I made it in time to catch Anthony Gomes followed by Mark Farner but unfortunately missed Colin James. It was raining and the ground was turning quite muddy. Not the place to be with a camera in the dark. I couldn’t see where I was walking unless I was up on the stage and that was getting dangerously slippery too. Professionals to the core, Farner and his band remained on stage even as they were getting soaked. Once Farner took his final bow it was time to call it a night. Next time Mr. James……

Anthony Gomes

Toronto-born Anthony Gomes was named one of the top ten guitarists in the world by Music Tasters Choice. Gomes has released 12 albums during his career, opening for Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Heart, Robert Cray, Kenny Wayne and a host of others. Gomes graduated with distinction  from the University of Toronto having written his master’s degree thesis on the racial and cultural evolution of blues music. According to his website, “Gomes’ skill as a performer is matched by his knowledge of and dedication to blues history. In 2014, his thesis was published and nominated for the Best Blues Book of the year by Blues 411.”

Mark Farner

Having never seen Grand Funk Railroad live, the opportunity to see, let alone photograph Farner and his band was….well…. trying to put a lid on teenage crazy was futile. Ahhhh…..the hair, the screaming guitar, the brawn, the hair…..well I was 16 after all and much of the band’s promotion featured (or focused on) just that….Farner’s physique (remember the pony shot) and hair, lots and lots of hair. The hair is still long but braided and tied back these days. The guitar is still magic in his hands, the voice is strong and clear and he’s as fit as ever. Farner hasn’t lost his lust for life or performing and it was a joy to photograph the show. Thank you Leisa Farner for the opportunity. It was truly a pleasure to meet you.

A very wet night indeed – Mark Farner and band

I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home – Grand Funk Railroad

Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother – Grand Funk Railroad

Introspection….

The days and weeks are flying by incredibly fast and sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up the pace.  There are times when the desire to simply disappear into thin air sucks me in like a vacuum…..to just walk out the front door and vanish. It’s a “flight or fight” feeling and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to stand one’s ground. Like that game of peek-a-boo with a young child….if I can’t see you then you can’t see me…..or that clip from a movie when you’re sitting in a speeding train (or car) as the world goes whizzing by, wondering if you’re really a part of it all or simply an observer, like Neo in The Matrix. I drift in and out of this sense of detachment thinking that when I close and then open my eyes the past four years have been a dream or some kind of parallel life. Something pushes me forward and tells me to smarten up, sit up straight, buckle down and get on with it. But sometimes that overpowering sense of disconnection or separation clouds my brain and I find myself with my head under the covers once more.

My passion is, and always has been, music and all that flows from it….photography, writing and dancing. These are the colours of my life. Music is what rescues me, feeds me, nurtures and nourishes me, keeps me company, holds my hand, shares my pain, celebrates my joy, grounds me and salvages my sanity. The rest are the vehicles I use to express what I feel and see…..extensions flowing from within the music. To be a part of this fantastical world, whether I am sitting watching soundcheck, photographing a small club or a huge concert, sitting in a recording studio watching as all the pieces fall into place, connecting people, listening to a jam session in my living room….the feelings are indescribable, overpowering me with joy, a sense of elation that gives me goose bumps, makes my heart race and is all consuming. That is my ‘zone’, my happy place. So when I start to feel like Neo, organizing my mind, separating the dream from reality and that sense of the surreal,  I play my music and let it surround me to bring me home.

Quick note…….

Last night was the launch party for this year’s Indie Week. Held at The Hideout, the place was packed (but not ridiculously so). Some great talent performed including The Crooked and The Redhill Valleys. Ran into Suzie Kory who’s walking a different path these days and has just released her new song/video, The Secret Garden. Of course, fellow scribe Peter Montreuil was in attendance as were the guys from The Reed Effect, Slammin’ Media’s Bruce Bradley, photographer Dylan Weller, my bass-playing friend Oscar who performed with Urvah Khan and so many others. Great party. Great launch. Superb location!

Cheers!

All photographs ©2018 A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”

More Mooozika……..

The Secret Garden – Suzy Kory

Take A Lot of Pain – The Redhill Valleys

Frank Gutch Jr. has been following Rain Perry for quite some time. She sent me this and I love the song. I can certainly see what Frank heard in her music.

Earthquake Country – Rain Perry

A brand new release by one of my favourite Toronto pop bands. These guys know how to write a catchy tune and an even catchier, sometimes eye-popping video (eye candy for the soul). Sally Shaar’s creativity knows no bounds and neither does her energy. This quartet are beautiful together.

Let It Go – Monowhales

Courtesy of Kim Simmonds….

Life is Life – Noah and The Whale

Give It All Back – Noah and The Whale

….and courtesy of my teenage years, love of good music and harmonies. I could drift on this forever…..

Suavecito – Malo

…..and dance to this….

Dos – Malo

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Please scroll down and leave a comment. Thank you.

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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