Pat Blythe – Survivors Ball, Taxi Chain, Jeff G and The Four Heads, Photos …and Music!

I’m so deep in the rabbit hole with the reorganization of photos I lose all track of time. I come up for air when the need for coffee arises or when my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut and I haven’t eaten since my morning banana. Then there’s those moments when you know you’re forgetting something….but what? It’ll come to me…. It’s slowly dawning on me just how many photos I’ve taken or moments I’ve captured and the sheer number of bands and artists I’ve seen and heard!!  I look at the collection trying to figure out how I could possibly have packed so much living and incredible music into such a short period of time. It’s been a dramatically life-altering and exhilarating four years.

My workspace from two slightly askew angles

Okay, I confess, I have the odd, teeny tiny Wayfair diversion (their emails keep distracting me). I’ve since unsubscribed or I’ll be more penniless than I am now. Sitting at my kitchen peninsula, my “office”, I’ve been stacking pillows on the stool/chair to bring it to a reasonable height. My neck and shoulders have been screaming at me now for a few weeks and I’ve finally paid attention. So…..Wayfair interruptus…..and after an extensive search  for the correct seat height (my peninsula is 43″ high so the height of the seat has to be a minimum 32″) I finally found a pair of stools I liked within my snack bracket… I ordered them. Who pays $600 for a bar stool???? Delivered within days they were literally drop-shipped, better known as the “drop and run”, without so much as a knock at the door. I lugged the huge box in from the front porch and it now resides in my living room patiently waiting for a second pair of hands to help put these beauties together…..without instructions!!!! Shouldn’t be too difficult, just awkward….these suckers are heavy. The box…..big enough for four on a snowy hill.

So, back to the photographs……texting back and forth with friend and fellow photographer Lisa MacIntosh I sent her a snap of one of my photos that was just published in Canadian Musician. She asked what credit line I typically use and I came up with three, depending on the format and what the publications use (or tolerate). Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker” is a bit of a mouthful.  That got me thinking. The Picture Taker has been part of my formal name, in homage to Chris who had been using the moniker since 1974. Lisa’s question had me pause and think. So I’ve decided it’s time to drop “The Picture Taker” although it will be retained in  the formal name of my company.

I’ve googled A Girl With A Camera a number of times over the years and discovered a few variations people use. However, this time my browser automatically suggested my full name so I checked it out and took a look at Google Images. Holy shit Batman!!!! I have never seen my work laid out like that before, nor have I paid the remotest attention to the breadth of it. A HUGE eye opener (and a rather giggly surprise). To step back and take a serious gander at the past four years of published photos has never been at the top of my hit list. To see most of them laid out in one space filling my screen was, to me, jaw dropping. Time for a book!

A few screen snips of what I found!! Only seven are not mine.

A small note to Mother Nature…..enough already”!! I’m calling “uncle”….after shoveling three times in a 12-hour period, digging my vehicle and two others out and discovering a river of water flowing down the street where I park (the city has been notified) I bow to your power. As for the frost-bite inducing temperatures…..please…..go back on your meds or fix your remote.

Survivors Ball…..

My music-loving friend Barbette asked me if I’d like to attend an event hosted by Urban Highlander with performers Taxi Chain.  So January 5 saw me heading to the west end to collect Barbette and head to the Mezz to attend this annual event aptly named  Survivors Ball.

The Theme:

You have made it into 2019.
You are a survivor.
A song, a drink, a toast… a tune.
We raise a glass to those we have had to leave behind in 2018 and welcome in a brand new year.

Grier Coppins

The first sound I hear is the keening drone of the bagpipes. Oh how I adore the pipes. A full body experience, they lift me up and take me soaring. As the piper paraded throughout the venue I slowly realized he was the same piper who had performed with the band at Roxanne’s birthday party a few weeks prior at Supermarket. So now I’ve had the pleasure…..twice.

Taxi Chain, a mash up of instruments and sounds….the lament of the pipes…..the warm, sexy, smoky sax…..the sweet sounds of the flute….combined  with guitar, mandolin, bass and drums….oh, and don’t forget the vocals. These five musicians, Grier Coppins (lead vocals, bagpipes, tenor guitar, tin whistle), Jim Bish (sax, piccolo, flute, harmonia, vocals), Ayron Mortley (guitar mandolin, vocals), Josh Hicks (drums, cymbals) and Joe Burns (bass) take you on a journey through various genres of music both new and familiar. Coppins, who founded Taxi Chain in 1993, was one of the original members of the bagpipe-world-jazz-funk fusion band Rare Air. This review on C’est What’s website about sums it up, “Taxi Chain sounds like what would happen if you took Tom Waits on a two-day bender and then got him a gig at a country bar, fronting a rock band, while playing the bagpipes. A wry look at life that turns the blues around like a three Martini lunch.”

l-r – Ayron Mortley, Josh Hicks, Grier Coppins, Joe Burns, Jim Bish

A busy bagpiper, Coppins also has another band, Urban Highlanders. Along with Bish and Mortley, the band includes Larry Graves on drums and Chris Bartos (violin and jazz guitar). Catch the Urban Highlanders at the Cameron House the third Sunday of each month from 6pm-8pm.

Speaking of bagpipes, I’ve discovered vocalist Archy Jay, India’s first and only bagpipe player. She combines Pujabi, Irish, Scottish and rock music with the bagpipes to create a vibrant melting pot of visuals and mesmerizing sounds.

Drowsy Maggie – The Snake Charmer (Punjabi Remake of Titanic Dance Song)

I love this comment from one YouTuber…..”An Indian girl in a sari using a bagpipe with an ivory dragon head to play a techno-themed Punjabi variant of an Irish jig while Scotsmen in kilts dance in the background. The Internet is such a magical place.”

Shipping Up To Boston/Enter Sandman – Bagpipe Cover (Goddesses of Bagpipe x The Snake Charmer)

You’ll never look at the bagpipes the same again…..I sense a history of the “dudelsack” in a future column.

From the Mezz Barbette and I headed to Spadina Ave. and Grossman’s Tavern to check out Jeff G and The Four Heads, a British-style R&B rock band. The Animals, The Doors, The Beatles, Yardbirds, Faces, James Brown, Chuck Berry….you get the idea. This Kensington Market-based band with Jeff Graydon/lead vocals, Paul Stansfield/lead guitar/vocals and Stan Humpries/lead guitar vocals, have been performing together since 1989, covering the classics of the sixties and they do it superbly. Barbette and I had the chance to listen to one set before I had to move the vehicle. I left, sorry we couldn’t stay.

Jeff Graydon

….and look who’s got her picture on the wall

Feeling nostalgic?

Heart Full Of Soul – Yardbirds

For Your Love (full album) – Yardbirds

Ooh La La – The Faces

Stay With Me – The Faces

Touch Me – The Doors

C’mon Marianne – Four Seasons

It’s My Life – The Animals

This popped up….couldn’t stop listening….for my two boys.

Simple Man – Lynard Skynard

Oh shit….this came on. Can’t stop it…..

Free Bird – Lynard Skynard

I leave you with this last lament…..

Amazing Grace – The Snake Charmer


All photographs ©2018 Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera


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! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Survivors Ball, Taxi Chain, Jeff G and The Four Heads, Photos …and Music!”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Great column, Pat! Thanks for raising the bar 😉 !

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