Pat Blythe – Musings, Beyond The Cage, Nikki’s Wives Listening Party …and Music!

What the hell is happening on this dirtball we call home? So much shit swirling around the world these days and apparently Canada isn’t immune. Whether it’s true, partially true, full of hyperbole or “fake news”, reading and watching about all the issues, challenges, scandals, and non-scandals, indignities, rumours, who’s doing what to whom and for how long….it’s a mass of doom and gloom, a world fraught with shadow, despair, darkness, crappy weather and a shitload of lawsuits. (depressed now?) Personally, I’d like to see a little sunshine…..just a little sprinkle of happiness, pleasantness, kindness, thoughtfulness…..some fucking good news for a change. Even the cute kitties, puppies and wounded animals on FB are getting to be overdone…FB is saturated with them. So here’s Little Miss Sunshine to say hello and put a smile on your face. Happy Wednesday!

Oh, I know, we could just wipe the slate clean like Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I can think of a few uses for that….. But no, all the crap won’t disappear and sooner or later we have to face up to it and actually do something about it, but for now, for the length of time it takes you to read this column and listen to a few tunes…..”forgetaboutit”.

Here’s the thing….there is far too much stealing my short attention span, on so many levels, both personally and professionally. I get stymied (or maybe overwhelmed) every once-in-a-while. It’s not necessarily the lack of things to write about, it’s the abundance….and there’s a few things I would dearly love to comment on that, if I did, would get me in a whole heap of trouble. So, here for your listening pleasure, a little bit more sunshine while I ruminate…..

Aquarius (Let The Sunshine In) – The 5th Dimension

Sunshine Superman – Donovan

Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles

Little Miss Sunshine (Trailer)

Beyond The Cage…….

There was a music festival going on all around town last week called Sounds of The City (SOTC). The lovechild of Jeannie Reid, this was the second SOTC this year with another coming up in the summer. Venues included Bar Stray, Bovine, Cherry Cola’s, Cloak and Dagger, The Paddock and The Hideout Toronto. It was a week of female-fronted bands and there were five of them at the event I attended April 4 at The Hideout. In order of appearance…..The Jay Dee Band, Beyond The Cage, Second Pass, Candy Hangover and Killer Virgins. I had an early appointment the following day so missed the last two acts but did catch the first three and they were excellent!!

Tracy Brett

My particular focus was a new (to me) band on the scene, Beyond The Cage. This quartet is comprised of seasoned, experienced musicians who have found a musical home with each other for the past nine years. As fortune would have it, I also happen to know their singer, the individual who’s determination put this band together. There is no other word that more aptly describes Tracy Brett than passionate… whatever she does. A lover of good solid rock music, Brett, who is also an actor, decided she wanted to front a rock band. With that goal in mind she is a resolute force once she sets her mind to something and nine years later Beyond The Cage is still together.

TJ Cage in his happy place

TJ Cage and Tracy Brett

Produced by Tim Bovaconti, their first EP, Wide Awake, was released in 2014. They weathered some management difficulties but continued to  write new material. They are now ready to hit the studio with, almost certainly, enough for at least two more albums. Brett and lead guitarist TJ Cage are the primary writing team….Brett handles lyrics and Cage is the principal composer. Bassist Greg Plant and drummer Ilios Steryannis complete the piece adding the balls, beat and backbone to each song. Disciplined and professional the band rehearse every Sunday (that’s their “religion”), whether they’re playing out or not. Their sets are comprised of original material with one exception, Foo Fighters, Best of You.

l-r – TJ Cage, Greg Plant, Tracy Brett

Ilios Steryannis — nothing like good “drummer face”

With a powerhouse set, they killed it last week and the crowd was in full agreement. If you want to catch Beyond The Cage, they play Cherry Cola’s April 18. I highly recommend you check them out.

Sidenote: Tracy and I worked together at the Ontario Ministry of The Attorney General for one year (I left to join AT&T Canada) but during that year we had become fast friends. We continued to be involved in each other’s lives for several years with Chris working on a number of projects with Tracy and her new business partner. We lost touch after Tracy’s husband passed away about 13 years ago. I rediscovered her purely by accident while reading a piece on Beyond The Cage. I reached out on FB not sure if it was in fact the Tracy I knew. So very glad I did. We’re both back in the same business once again, albeit on opposites ends of the lens. I have an intense dislike for FB and its constant siren call but for finding lost friends… can’t beat it.

Second Pass’s Veroncia McNamee, another voice to be reckoned with, another impassioned singer.

The Jay Dee Band….

Jay Dee

Ukulele close-up…..

…..a little educational fun…..

English…..a language that really doesn’t make any sense, even to those whose native tongue it is. A language that is really the mongrel in the family, the Heinz 57 variety of languages with more influences, twists and turns than driving up *Pike’s Peak (not to mention the “rules” that really are broken all the time). Gotta love the Oxford Dictionary….. never mind the cats. Thanks to my friend Liz P. who posted this.

A listening party……

Well this was a first. Although again, crowds don’t shut up enough to really listen or allow anyone else to. Lee’s Palace was jammed, 500 deep, to the rafters to “hear” Nikki’s Wives. An open bar and food, all funded and provided by the band certainly attracted the masses. A “listening party”, at least to me, was a group of us, gathered around somebody’s turntable, listening to the latest vinyl offering of whomever the band was, quietly concentrating on each and every note and lyric, determining if it was worth another spin or not. Spirited discussion would always follow but not until both sides of the album had been heard in their entirety. From musicianship to the “meaning(s)” behind the lyrics, the album cover, the notes inside….nothing was missed and by the end of it all most of us knew every chord, drum beat and most of the words. The minute the music started, you could almost hear a pin drop through the drum solo.

Nikki Whitehead

Opening for Nikki’s Wives this night was Indie rock band The Elwins who were having a blast DJ-ing rather than performing. They pranced and danced around on stage while keeping everyone engaged and entertained with the music and their antics. Hailing from Keswick Ontario, duo Matthew Sweeney and Travis Stoki got together in high school recording their first self-titled EP in 2008. Full speed ahead to 2019 and The Elwins are now a four-piece with three albums under their belt and have toured Japan, Europe, the U.S.  during the past several years. The band members are Matthew Sweeney (guitar/vocals), Travis Stocki (drums), Feurd (guitar/keyboard) and Frankie Figliomeni (bass/vocals).

Feurd at the Apple keyboard

As the room rapidly filled up the push to the stage started. Chicken wings in one hand, a beer in the other, folks were weaving in out of the bodies and at one point I wasn’t sure if they were dancing or trying to get somewhere. I selected my spot and stayed put. Now fed and watered, the crowd were ready.

Dyland Lauzon and Nikki Whitehead

Nikki Whitehead

Nikki’s Wives appeared to thunderous applause and whistles. An electro pop/alternative rock band from varying parts of Ontario…..lead vocalist Nikki Whitehead is from London, Ontario, Dylan Lauzon (guitar) is from Cochrane, Ontario and Nate Baylor (drummer) is from Hamilton, Ontario…..they currently bounce between Nashville and Toronto. Newly-minted, twenty-one-year-old Whitehead (I believe her birthday was yesterday) takes command of the stage and prowling and sashaying from one side to the other, crouching and reaching out to the audience. Her clear soprano (along with a good soundman) manages to pierce the noise of the crowd so that I can hear enough to enjoy. All three band members are at home on stage and Baylor loves to ham it up. However, these three take their chosen profession very seriously.

I took almost the identical shot in 2016

I’ve been following Nikki’s Wives off and on for the past three years after first photographing them at the Rockpile in 2016. Their brand new single Lemonade has been all over social media leading up to Friday’s event. A fabulous show that left the audience wanting more.

Nikki graces the background of my website Luvthemusic

Lemonade – Nikki’s Wives

Lonely Being Cool – Nikki’s Wives

Slow Fast Slow – Nikki’s Wives

To this day attempting to converse overtop music is both irritating and fruitless. The minute I hear a beat, my ears perk up and I either want to sing along, dance or put the headphones on. My attention is instantly diverted. Even in the grocery store you’ll find me rocking down the aisles as soon as my brain hones in on that very recognizable tune. Lord help me (and the other shoppers) if I start singing!!!! Now where did I put that shopping list?????

Best of You – Foo Fighters

That’s it. I’m out of time and out of steam.


All photos ©2016, 2019 Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera

*A mountain in Colorado


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 – Musings, Beyond The Cage, Nikki’s Wives Listening Party …and Music!”

  1. Tracy Brett Says:

    Thank you soooooooo much for the lovely words, Pat! We’re all very touched.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: