Pat Blythe – Forest City London Music Awards Wrap-Up, CMW …and Music!

Music festival season is upon us. CMW (Canadian Music Week) is usually first out of the starting gate. This year FCLMA was ahead of the game so for me, one segues right into the other. I’ll also be heading to Mariposa in July and Summerfolk in August. With a myriad of music shows and festival in between it’s going to be a busy summer for many and one that will pass by far too rapidly.

The Forest City

In London, Ontario all week (eight days total) and the time went by so incredibly fast. It feels like I just packed to leave and now I’m home again. The wee house in Toronto still had life in it though. My youngest and his girlfriend moved in for the duration except for one night. Conveniently it was the one night James Blonde was performing in town at the Rivoli and needed a place to rest their weary bones and maybe jam a little. My instruments tend to get a little workout when these guys are in town. Nice to hear from Phil Taylor the drums are “well tuned, perfect for jazz”. Credit goes to my Drum Doctor Paul DeLong.

Mom at 21

I love staying with my mom but it always seems to be so busy. Between the two of us I’m on the run in the evenings and she’s busy with her clubs during the day. We did manage to get a bit of shopping in and planted some pansies. Our family is incredibly fortunate to have this amazing woman in our lives. I know she’d love to see us all more often……especially those great-grandkids (hint hint). I need to spend less time being busy and more time just chilling with mom. She’ll be 90 years young this year and still doesn’t miss a beat, especially to one of her favourite songs The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens.  Below is her absolute fav video to the song.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle…….

Forest City London Music Awards (FCLMA) put on a hell of a show, providing music for everyone. This is the second year I’ve attended and it just keeps getting better! The week of song welcomes everyone, the young and not so young. Jazz night, blues night, hip-hop night, seminars, documentaries and a packed, standing room only, awards show. Huge, huge kudos go to Chair of the FCLMA Mario Circelli, the linchpin in all this. Circelli was everywhere, every night. There are volunteers and venue staff that work their butts off as well and they all deserve a big round of applause. My hometown has always been a city of music and it’s wonderful to see the musicians, past and present, get the recognition they so richly deserve.

One note here, although FCLMA runs on volunteers, donations and sponsorship and all but two of the events were free to everyone (including the awards gala), every single band/performer was paid. RESPECT!!!

So, over a seven-day period I attended the London Jazz Event (yes siree…..five out of seven venues in one night!), the Blues Showcase at London Music Club Music, Movie Night at the London Library, Swagger Dance Party, World Music & Jazz Showcase featuring the SwinGrowers (in partnership with TD Sunfest), Soundcheck for Success and Music Expo. On Sunday was the early VIP eat-and-greet at Rumrunners where the award was presented to this year’s Fantasy Band. To close off a spectacular week….the Awards Gala. It’s all a blur but I had such a blast.

London Jazz Event……

The Quintessential Jazz Combo

Fifth of Jazz

Songs of Sinatra with The Jazzman Band

Mark Henning Jazz Quartet

Paul Aitken Trio featuring Steve Clark & Ted Peacock

Blues Showcase with……

Dashboard Rattle

l-r – Joe Fourier, Rick Taylor, Richard J. Miron

l-r – Jay Riehl, Richard J. Miron, Rick Tayor partially hidden by Joe Fournier who is assisting Taylor on his guitar

….and Twin Fin

l-r –Cole G. Benjamin, Brad Ondrovcik, Paul Wickerson, Dana MacCabe,  Eric Roelofsen

Swagger Dance Party at Palasad Social Bowl

l-r – Mo, Darla, Gary, Dwayne

Swagger over the lanes….

 …..all the way from Palermo, Sicily. Here on a North American tour, London and Vancouver are their only Canadian stops. What I expected was completely different from what this quartet presented. It was a very pleasant surprise. SwinGrowers performed their personal twists on classics and original material with a mix of jazz, pop, swing and electro….. They had the dance floor packed minutes into their first song. Record label…..Freshly Squeezed. The voice…..right out of the swing era and mixes perfectly with the sounds of today.

Ciro Pusateri/saxophone/clarinet

Loredana Grimaudo/vocals; Alessio Costagliola/guitarist /composer/arranger

Roberto Costa: Producer, Programmer, DJ

Fantasy Band as voted by over 20,000 Londoners….

l-r – Jade Bennett/utility, Kate Channer/vocals, Paul Aitkin/guitar, Ryan McNevin/keys, Bruce Baillargeon/horns (missing Richard J. Miron/bass and Christine Newland/strings)

Even with the crappy, rainy weather folks came out to support London’s musical talent and maybe even learn a little. I’m hugely impressed with the significant number of sponsors. It seems the entire city is out to support their own. What a novel idea! A brainwave that sprung a leak 18 years ago has flowed into an entire river of music. The FCLMA also curates the London Music Hall of Fame, Canada’s only city specific museum dedicated to its storied music history. Housed in a heritage building in downtown London (the former Nash Jewellery Store) the FCLMA was recently presented with the London Heritage Award for the reuse and preservation of the store. Shhhhh….it also, conveniently, has a secrete passage to London Music Hall……you didn’t hear that from me.

Susan Aglukark

Carole Pope

Carole Pope and Greg Simpson

Saturday was Soundcheck for Success, an all-day professional development and music career day. This year’s featured speakers were Carole Pope (Rough Trade) who was interviewed by London’s own Greg Simpson, and Juno award winner, Inuk singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark. There was a photographer’s session (missed that one) and a five-member panel of music producers.

The one that really caught my attention (and heartstrings) was the Musicians for Mental Health – The Healing Session hosted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Sarah Smith. Four musicians from varying genres told their stories of how music has helped them through their darkest times. It was heartbreakingly human, all four with completely different experiences and backgrounds. Very nervous, they shared their histories of what obstacles they have overcome (and still are)… extremely intimate look into their lives. I applaud all of them for getting up on a stage in front of total strangers, with the hopes that by sharing their secrets, their journeys, it may somehow help or comfort someone else. Speakers were rapper Tyler Stewart, singer Lola, singer/songwriter Sarah Smith and singer/songwriter Deni Gauthier. A completely open and frank reveal about roads travelled and the road still ahead.

l-r –Tyler Stewart, Lola, Sarah Smith, Deni Gauthier

Soooo…..thought for the day….. London, Ontario isn’t even half the size of the City of Toronto (let alone the GTA) yet it manages to get its shit together every year to celebrate those who make us laugh, dance, cry, encourage, relax, tap our toes, hum, sing, motivate, heal, escape, remember…..and anything else you can think of. Those picker of strings, plonkers of keys, puffers of brass, pounders of the traps, pulsators of the vocal chords (I’m out of descriptive pees)….they bare their hearts and souls to us through their music. Why, in heavens name, can’t Toronto get its collective asses in gear and put on a City of Toronto Music Awards? No politics…..bands/artists, in their diverse categories, are elected and selected strictly by fan votes, as are producers, engineers, contributors, etc. I don’t want to hear or read excuses of why we can’t….I want to hear why we can. Now go, put your thinking caps on…….

FCLM Awards Gala……

Lifetime Achievement Award winner singer Mary Lou Smoke with her husband Dan

Nora Galloway, Hall of Fame inductee

Two award presenters

Fire breather……

A shout-out to the MONOWHALES who won the Independent Recording Artist award. Also to the Julian Taylor Band who were nominated in the same category.

MONOWHALES accepting their award

….and then there’s CMW…..loads of bands and artists to choose just waiting to entertain your ears and feet. A few new bands I’ll be checking out are two from Ottawa, The PepTides and Tribe Royal as well as act from India, Parvaaz….and hey……Dave Grohl is in town for a couple of days speaking at the Live Touring Summit. That is going to be one jam-packed two-day session and a never-ending lineup to get in!

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens

Selfie Face – SwinGrowers

That’s Right – SwinGrowers

Parvaaz – Color White

Don’t Believe in Love – The PepTides


Resist It – Carole Pope and Kevin Hearn

This Is Not A Test – Carole Pope

Angels and Anchors – Sarah Smith

All Kinds of Good – Dashboard Rattle

Whiskey Wine & Venom Love – Twin Fin


All photos except London landscape are ©2019 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! 

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