Pat Blythe – ‘Tis the Season (well almost), a little Pretzel Logic, a Fundraiser……and Music!

It’s THAT time of year! December is closing in, Toronto’s Santa Claus parade has come and gone, coloured lights are slowly appearing on homes all over the city, the boxes of decorations have been heaved up from the basement with the help of a friend…..then there’s the Christmas tree to suss out (I always get a real one), more baking….and the list goes on. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. The hidden five-year-old makes her appearance at this time of year as the joy of the season takes hold. It bubbles up and overflows, sometimes a bit over the top….so be patient. Trying to quell the child inside is almost impossible. Now I typically wait until December 1 to begin the transformation of the house, but this year, with so much going on, Jingle Bells takes hold a bit earlier although I do hold off on the Christmas movies and specials until the first of that magical month.

However, I did attend a beautiful concert and service featuring the music of A Charlie Brown Christmas at Christ Church Deer Park this past Sunday. My all-time, most favourite, much-loved Christmas show….it touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes year after year. The music alone is especially poignant as the characters play their parts in my mind’s eye. When the theme song begins on the piano it seeps into my heart and transports me back in time. The performers…..John Sherwood on piano, Scott Alexander on stand-up bass and Brian Barlow on drums. Superb! Simply marvelous! …..and I loved the jazzed up version of Hark The Herald Angels Sing at the evening’s close. Thank you so much Paul DeLong for recommending this wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. A lovely and heartwarming beginning to the season.

A Charlie Brown Christmas airs twice on ABC this holiday season. There’s also a 30-minute special, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales following the feature presentation. I don’t have cable but for those that do….. For more information go here

I did not bring my camera to Sunday’s performance, simply wanting to focus on and enjoy the performance. I did discover this short vignette with David Benoit on piano. The music is everything.

Charlie Brown Christmas – David Benoit

Holland-Bloorview Rocks……

This is the second time I have attended this fundraiser but the first time I’m there, by request, as the official photographer. A slew of volunteers and sponsors donate our time and expertise to ensure the fundraiser is a success so the highly important music therapy program continues at Holland-Bloorview. After photographing the jam/rehearsal session a few weeks prior, I was back on site to capture the show. Two bands were performing….The Sour Patch Kids and Pop Rocks. It’s amazing to watch the faces light up as they sing and play their instruments, loving every minute of being on stage. Music brightens lives, calms or energizes us, it is food for the soul,  it unites us….a universal “language” everyone identifies with and understands, which is why the program is so very important.

From the website, Holland Bloorview Rocks will showcase kids of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s music therapy programs in a one-of-a-kind band performance with celebrity judges…Kids and youth participate in 8 weeks of jam sessions, gearing up for the big day. With their crew, made up of volunteers from Holland BloorviewBloorview Research Institute, and The Jam, they bring you a concert you will not want to miss! Cheer on our bands and help raise funds for music therapy at Holland Bloorview. Your support will help create a world of possibility for kids with disabilities.”

l-r – Mentors Rudy Blair, Kellylee Evans, Topher Stott

Topher Stott on the Djembe

Evans and Evans with Stott in the background

Kellylee Evans

The event took place in Holland-Bloorview’s cavernous dining hall. Natural light flows through the large floor to ceiling windows that also overlook gardens and a play area….a beautiful place to dine. Radio personality Rudy Blair, drummer/percussionist Topher Stott and Juno-award winning jazz singer Kellylee Evans were the afternoon’s mentors, providing  the young, budding musicians encouragement and kudos for their singing and skills on the various instruments. Stott and Evans also performed during “half time” (in between sets) with Stott accompanying Evans on the Djembe. A captivating performer, Evans garnered many new fans, including me. Many, many thanks to videographer Carolyn Kelly of Jeeperzcrow who accompanied me to the jam session and her back-up Dale Simmons who joined me at the main event.

Kellylee Evans – In Concert

A little Steely Dan……

A few weeks ago I ventured back to the Orbit Room….it’s been a while. This College St. club, in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy, is pretty much packed seven nights a week with popular resident talents such as Jordan John, LMT Connection, The Sattelites, The Dave Murphy Band, and on the last Thursday of every month, Pretzel Logic. I first saw Pretzel Logic perform almost four years ago at the Orbit Room and remember getting “stuck”, inches from drummer’s rather large cymbal, on my way back from the ladies room. If you’re familiar with the club you’ll know this 10-piece band stretches wall-to-wall during their performances so if you missed your chance to either make it to or from the restrooms, you wait until the song is over. So wait I did, watching with great fascination, the drum sticks fly, and, with not a lot of room to move, expecting to get beaned at any moment. I didn’t but was glad to scoot back to my seat. That drummer, of course, was Paul DeLong, whom I was briefly introduced to later that evening by the friend I was with. Three years later he’s performing with ONES….and I still stand well back of the drum kit when he’s playing.

Pretzel Logic

I love the music of Steely Dan and that particular evening made a valid (but futile) attempt to shuffle around a very tightly packed dance floor. Fast forward a few years and I’m now going to attempt to photograph them, again from the midst of boogying bodies, from the sidelines and even standing on a chair. I’m up for the challenge. This time I make sure my of my timing in my rush to powder my nose and I’m not stuck close to those flying drumsticks. As per usual, the Pretzel Logic/Steely Dan fans are in out in full force. The lineup of this fantastic band are Peter Graham (sax and vocals), Bob McAlpine (guitar), Michael Shotton (vocals), Tim Johns (guitar), Turner King (sax), Dave Johns (bass), Paul DeLong (drums), Don Baird (keyboards), Grant Slater (keyboards), Dominique Roy (vocals) and Paul Mitchell (trumpet and fluglehorn). (Note: Jake Wilkinson was subbing for Paul Mitchell that night.) I had so much fun shooting these guys I think I’ll go back for more. ….and many thanks to David Beaver for being such a gentleman handing me my drink and holding my chair as I stood on it taking photos!

Tim Johns (left), Jake Wilkinson, Michael Shotton (right)

Dominique Roy

Mirror play with keyboardist Grant Slater

Saxes and singer

l-r – Jake Wilkinson, Peter Graham, Bob McAlpine

Paul DeLong (Aja drum solo complete with whistle)

I’m sure there’s more but wrapping up for the night.


Pretzel Logic

Reeling In The Years – Steely Dan

Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan

Deacon Blues – Steely Dan

Aja – Steely Dan

I Keep Falling In Love With You – Jordan John

Curtis – LMT Connection

…..and for a bit of fun, the same song performed by three different artists…..

Down Home Girl – Rainbow Girls

Down Home Girl – The Rolling Stones

Down Home Girl – Alvin Robinson (1964)

Christmastime Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio


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


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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