Pat Blythe – Women & Songs Redux….catching up…..and music

I am currently spending some time with my mom…..trolling the local dollar stores for stuff neither of us needs, but enjoying the time out. The promised rain never appeared, which was probably a good thing as the air was already thick enough. We sat out on the front porch with a cup of tea and watched the fireflies the other night. It’s rather lazy days when I come to visit, although this week is a little busier with scheduled interviews for the series I’m working on. I’m also catching up with a few mutual friends of Greg Simpson’s and mine.

Brent Marucci

One of Greg’s best friends, Brent Marucci, was also a long time friend. Oddly enough, for all the years I had known both men, I never realized they knew each other until five years ago. Greg and I hung in different circles back then and he was never at Brent’s house on Oxford Street when I was there. The last time I connected with Brent was a few years before he passed away from cancer so that would have been at least 15 years ago.

Brent was my first drum teacher back in 1973. I had expressed an interest in learning to play, so Brent very kindly offered to teach me. He introduced me to his record/practice room and set me up behind his kit. I remember looking around the room in awe at the floor to ceiling albums that covered all four walls. I think there might have been a wee spot somewhere in there for the stereo as I do remember Brent hooking up a pair of headphones for me to wear as I practiced. He provided a rudiments chart for me to use and a practice pad for me to take home.

Brent’s teaching method was demonstrating the single stroke, a few “diddles”, some single, double and triple “ratamacues”(I loved that word) and then handing me the drumsticks (I wish I still had them).  He’d have me practice what he showed me (I followed the chart) for about 30 minutes. He’d return and put on some records with no recorded drum tracks. I was to create the drum tracks for the songs. This went on for about a number of months….I can’t quite remember how many…..and usually once a week. Life happened and the lessons got further and further apart. I eventually moved to Toronto and didn’t get the opportunity to go back to the drums until 2017. Loooooong break.

Ye Olde Practice Pad from 1973

I recently rediscovered that old practice pad once again…..still in good shape. My youngest used it when he was learning the snare drum in cadets. It now goes full circle as I return it to Brent’s son Michael later this week. I hung on to it in my determination to master the drums, or at least co-ordinate all four appendages at once and keep the beat. It belongs with Michael who, like his father, is also a drummer and runs his own recording studio. I have wonderful memories of Brent who encouraged me and never once made me feel I was stupid or crazy as a young female wanting to learn how to play the traps.

So, in light of all this, I thought I would also go full circle back to my very first column for DBAWIS, February 20, 2015. With updates, what follows here is essentially my opening salvo, Women & Songs. I was already back writing again, it’s the one thing I’ve always loved to do, and had already created my own blog, Luvthemusic, when Bob Segarini asked me to join his writing team at DBAWIS. So here I am, more than five years later, still putting my thoughts, emotions and love for life and music in black and white.

….and so it begins…..Women & Songs Part 1

Women & Songs

While ripping my entire CD collection on to my new laptop (which now sits idle as I am working on my new, new laptop) I came across my set of Women & Songs. I instantly recalled my absolute delight at discovering these treasures while out trolling (I do a lot of that) through the bins at the record store many years ago. Yes….a record store…..I even worked for a couple when I first moved to Toronto.

An entirely Canadian production, Women & Songs…..a compilation of tracks by female artists…..is a succession of CDs released over several years. The first collection, simply titled Women & Songs, was issued December 9, 1997. The third album, Women & Songs 3 was released simultaneously with a special, complimentary CD called Women & Songs Beginnings, the first two-disk CD in the franchise.

Beginnings is a collection of some of the most celebrated and renowned female voices in music – past and present. Judy Garland, Mary Wells, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Janis Joplin, Bette Midler, Etta James….. Thirty-one songs present the listener with a historical snapshot of some of the most powerful and haunting voices in music, showcasing some of the songs that launched their careers. There is nothing that compares to the power and gut-wrenching passion of a woman belting out a song at full throttle, then taking it back to a whisper in a heartbeat. It simply gives me goosebumps.

Nine more CDs were added to the series plus four special releases, each building on the success and popularity of the previous recordings. Countless talented voices, many now silenced. The final album, Women & Songs 12 was released in 2008 and includes Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado, Divine Brown and Katie Perry. As I began to listen to the songs again I wondered why some of the voices had suddenly gone quiet. The answers are obvious for some, but for others, well…..they seem to have silently faded into the background. So like a dog with a bone, I start the research.

Where are they now?

Amanda Marshall, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Jewel, Natalie Imbruglia, Tracy Chapman, Maria Muldaur…..this is just a miniscule taste of the incredible voices that contribute to this wonderful collection of music.

Amanda Marshall – I first heard Marshall Perform in the concert bowl at the top of Whistler Mountain in B.C. back in the mid 90s. The Philosopher Kings were on the same bill. She was, in one world, FANTASTIC!!!! You couldn’t have wished for a more perfect day for an outdoor concert – blue skies, a few puffy white coulds, hanging with one of my best friends, laying back on bales of hay (no smoking allowed for obvious reasons). The music just floated out over the crowd. Marshall’s voice just seeped into your soul. She had such passion and I fell in love.

Amanda Marshall performing in 2017

After a hiatus of 10 years, during which Marshall was involved in a protracted legal battle with her former management, she had began recording her fourth studio album in 2012, her first since 2001. A Toronto girl who practiced her singing chops on Queen St., West and got the attention of Jeff Healey, Marshall released her first album in 1995. Two more albums followed and then she walked away.

Update – Marshall is elusive. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no website. An extremely private individual, the most recent article I can find was published by the Calgary Herald in 2019. The album begun in 2012 has been completed but there is no release date yet. She has made a number of public appearances including opening for Bryan Adams on his tour last year. Her solo appearances have been selling out in hours but she feels no need for the limelight. As for the new album…..we wait.

Paula Cole – A Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, Cole won the award in 1998 for Best New Artist. Her song “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997. Cole released her last album, Raven, in 2013. A gifted writer and keyboard player, she has been referred to as a “feisty poet with a soaring voice and funky groove.” Cole is currently on the voice faculty of Berklee College of Music and continues to perform and record.

Update – Since 2015, Cole has released two albums. In August 2017 she released a covers studio album, Ballads. The first single was Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”. In September 2019, Cole released her ninth album, Revolution.

Natalie Imbruglia – Model, actress, singer and songwriter, appearing in television, film and theatre, Aussie native Natalie Imbruglia’s biggest hit Torn was released in 1997 after she relocated to London, England. The single was wildly and unexpectedly successful and spent 14 weeks at number one, selling over one million copies and breaking the record for the most airplay in U.K. history. Imbruglia then retreated from the music scene for four years, battling writers block. In 2001 she recorded her first album in four years, White Lilies Island. Unfortunately, Imbruglia’s ensuing recordings have been unable to match Torn’s success. In 2009 she recorded her last album, Come to Life. Released in Australia and Europe, the album was cancelled in England.

Update – Imbruglia officially became a British Citizen in 2015. In 2019 she simultaneously announced her pregnancy and her just signed record deal with BMG. Also in 2019 Imbruglia has been writing some new material with Albert Hammond Jr. from The Strokes. An advocate for mental health, sharing she has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Imbruglia admits she is not good with change. She has continued to act in both Britain and Australia but with the birth of her son late last year motherhood is her first priority.

Maria Muldaur – Best known for her 1974 hit Midnight at the Oasis, Muldaur is a folk/blues singer and was part of the American folk music revival in the 1960s. Singing with John Sebastian, David Grisman and Stefan Grossman as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band, Muldaur was involved in the Greenwich Village scene which, at the time, also included Bob Dylan. Some of her recollections of that period are part of Martin Scorcese’s documentary film No Direction Home. Muldaur has been nominated for Blues Music Award twice, first in 2005 and again in 2013. In 2011 Muldaur release her 40th album, a tribute to the late Memphis Minnie, one of the first blues artists (male or female) to take up the electric guitar.

Muldaur continues to perform with her bands – her jazz quartet as well as Maria Muldaur & Her Red Hot Bluesiana Band – playing New Orleans flavoured blues, R&B and Swamp Funk.

Update – I had the pleasure of seeing Muldaur perform at Hugh’s Room in October 2015.  I had approval to photograph the show and at the last minute Muldaur decided there were to be no photographs or videos taken. I was disappointed but thoroughly enjoyed her performance. In 2018 Muldaur released Don’t You Feel My Leg – The Naughty Bawdy of Blue Lu Barker. Recorded in New Orleans, it was nominated for a Grammy making it her sixth nomination. In September 2019 Muldaur was awarded the Americana Music Association’s The Lifetime Achievement Americana Trailblazer Awardfor her lifelong work of covering the depth and breadth of American Roots music and for being one of the pioneers who laid the groundwork for what we’ve come to call ‘Americana Music’. Muldaur still continues to perform and tour worldwide.

Birmingham – Amanda Marshall

Beautiful Goodbye – Amanda Marshall

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? – Paul Cole

God Bless the Child – Paula Cole

Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

Fever – Peggy Lee

I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips

Just because…….

Hallelujah – Violin and Sax Cover – Karolina Protsenko & Daniele Vitale

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

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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