Pat Blythe – What’s Up with Festivals …Sidetracked …A Soiree …and Music!

What’s with the festival circuit the past few years? Roxodus died a quick and very public, painful death….especially painful to all those who bought tickets and the dream. The demise…..headlines for about 30 seconds and then gone. However, that one will be a sea of lawsuits for years to come, but hey, the bands got their deposits. Go figure.

London Bluesfest is also not happening this year. The Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) has been gone now two (maybe three) years. Bestival, a British import attempted a two-year run and hasn’t returned. Even the 50th anniversary the Woodstock Festival isn’t happening. Field Trip isn’t on this year…..may be back in 2020. Even the U.S. festivals are having probems drawing crowds….yes, even Coachella. When I search online for Canadian music festivals the inventory of “the best” or “must see” are endless. Some even list the festival but no confirmed date or location (why bother) but none of them mention Sunfest, Mariposa, Canmore Music Festival or Summerfolk….four of the oldest and longest running festivals in Canada.

An image from Woodstock 1969

Mariposa (Orillia) will be celebrating its diamond anniversary next year, Summerfolk (Owen Sound) will be 44 this year, Canmore is 41 years young and Sunfest (London, Ontario) just celebrated its 25th birthday. All four of these festivals are non-profit organizations relying on sponsorship, donations and memberships. These well-oiled machines run primarily on volunteer power and their big love of music. All have experienced their ups and down but, hey, they’re still here offering great music and experiences. Mariposa had their third record year in a row this year and just keeps on growing. Summerfolk, in Owen Sound keeps the crowds coming. Sunfest is free admission to anyone and draws both performers and crowds from around the world.

The Magic Bus arrives at Mariposa

Then there is Canadian Music Week (CMW) which kicks off festival season, noted in one list but not others. Beaches International Jazz Festival, Sound of Music Festival in Burlington, TD Jazz Festival in Toronto and the Montreal Jazz Festival don’t make the cut. Neither does Indie Week although Boots and Hearts and Ottawa Bluesfest get a nod in one.

Beaches International Jazz Festival looking south down Queen St. E.

From Salmon River Ranch in B.C. to Fredericton, New Brunswick many of these festivals are local or community based, aimed at the surrounding towns and cities in their specific area. Others, like Osheaga, which usually has a rather interesting and eclectic lineup, are geared to attract millenials from right across the country. Some are genre based (there are scores of EDM festivals), simply a list of personal favourites or maybe what someone considers the most popular. Directing folks to a specific genre or a list of your personal preference(s) is like looking down a straw….narrow view with no peripheral vision. In a country teaming with takent, a comprehensive list of all the music festivals across Canada, big and small, would provide a clearer and broader picture of the music we have to offer.

Indie Week Launch Revival Bar 2018

It seems everyone is jumping on the “bigger is better” festival bandwagon. The almighty dollar is a big lure for producers and promoters. Grandoise ideas crash and burn (see opening paragraph) Fyre should have taught us all a lesson but….the old adage of “if it’s too good to be true…..” comes to mind. Many will fail quickly while others will continue for a few years and then just disappear. Go check out and support the festivals that have lasted. There’s a reason they’re still around


I am not a huge fan of heavy metal although lately I’ve been finding the European metal bands quite fascinating. Maybe it’s their flair for the dramatic, the sweeping orchestral arrangements, their tendency toward a rather medieval feel, the powerful and evocative voices that draw you in, the stories their songs tell, or in this case, a young Toronto singer I’ve been following since I first saw him perform at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Final curtain call for Oh Canada What A Feeling

David Michael Moote….four years ago I was fortunate to see him perform, along with a stellar cast, in the musical Oh Canada What A Feeling, a show based on the book written by Martin Melhuish. I had the opportunity to photograph the entire cast after their final performance, capturing some posed and candid moments. I loved that Moote’s date was his mom and I managed to capture the two of them after she presented him with a lovely floral arrangement (as you do after the final curtain call).

David Michael Moote & mom

The cast of Oh Canada What A Feeling. Moote is laughing over the shoulder of Amy Bishop, third from the left.

Originally from my home town of London, Ontario, Moote has been involved in many projects since I first watched him on stage. His acting chops, together with his magnificent voice, have now carried him overseas to perform with Operus at the Wacken Open Air Festival. I was wondering why Operus came up on my IG feed until I noticed it was Moote on vocals. Off to YouTube I go and sure enough, he’s in the videos you see below. Dig a little deeper and from what I can gather, he’s been singing with them for a few years. Now I’m down in the weeds and quelle “surpreez”, Operus is a Toronto-based Metal/Theatrical Metal band!!!

David Michael Moote with Operus

Moote segues from one experience to another. July 26 saw him performing in Could I Have This Dance, a musical inspired by a sisterhood of women in post-war Nova Scotia and featuring the songs of Anne Murray. July 28 he’s performing with Operus in Toronto. July 29 he’s landed in Germany for their performance at Wacken. I love Moote’s spirit and his chutzpah. Operus seems perfect for a wide-ranging voice such as Moote’s which goes hand-in-hand with his theatre experience. A new dad of a beautiful daughter Luna born in March, Moote’s apparent willingness to try damn near anything bodes well for a little girl who will be taught exactly that. Just go for it! Lucky Luna.

La Liorona  Operus

Moote also has the uncanny ability to remain youthful and innocent looking….you immediately like him and want to trust him… watch Fate’s Pantomine below.

Fate’s Pantomine – Operus

What I find rather astonishing is how fast and precise the drummer is. I can’t begin to see how anyone can play them at the speed of light!

A True Soiree…..

Saturday was a day in the country. Floppy sun hat in had (compete with flower) and a cooler filled with tonic, Bombay Sapphire, lemon and the requisite mint I headed to Dundas with friend Karl Anderson. A catered BBQ, four acres of beautiful grounds, a salt-water swimming pool, croquet on the side lawn, a house built in 1862 with loads of history, live entertainment, good friends……a fabulous way to relax and enjoy the this glorious day and the company of wonderful people.

The House!

The invitation was extended by good friend Tracy Brett whose band, Beyond The Cage, were performing that evening. Also on the bill, openers Lowdown Dirty Mojos.  During intermission we were treated to acrobatics with fire. Many, many thanks to our hosts Paul and Gabrielle Napier whose outstanding hospitality made it a perfect day.

A few soiree photos……

l-r – Karl Anderson, Tracy Brett, Greg Plant, TJ Cage, Illios Steryannis (standing)

Getting the stage ready for soundcheck

Beyond The Cage

A glorious sunset


It’s My Life – Talk Talk

Subeme La Radio – Enrique Iglesias

Spooky – Classics !V

A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy

Brand spanking new from Canadian band Courage My Love….

Teenagers – Courage My Love

Do You Remember – Julian Taylor Band

Green Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf

From The Beginning – Emerson, Lake and Palmer


All photographs ©2015-2019 Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera except first concert image Woodstock and Operus images


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda Little Red-headed dancing girland the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!

2 Responses to “Pat Blythe – What’s Up with Festivals …Sidetracked …A Soiree …and Music!”

  1. Hi Pat,

    I thought your article on the festivals was absolutely realistic. I think maybe you could fold it into a future more in depth one on why this is happening – not just sad, but “the times they are a changing”

    What gave me pause was the 50th Woodstock. Not even the grandparents who were there could muster the energy. Let alone the current generation who look like the ones in that perfect black and white shot.

    We all have too much choice and too little interest… it’s all on the phone and Netflix etc… nice job at drawing the borders of the big picture for the generation we’re not part of anymore. You’ve earned that nice invitation to the house party too…

    • Carl, thanks for your very thoughtful response. A more in-depth piece on festivals is a good idea…..hanging in and fading out. It will take some more thought and a bit more research but worth it.

      The whole 50th Woodstock thing was overplayed and over promoted before it really began. The original is a beautiful piece of history that touched and changed everything following it. There will never be another and to try and recreate it yet again is fruitless. We need to focus on the new.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank for reading my work. Cheers!

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