Pat Blythe – For no particular reason…..Julian Taylor……and music

I woke up today (Tuesday) morning, late, thinking of the future and what lies ahead. Of England, of leaving Canada, of all the friendships and relationships I’ve built over the past five years and the very special ones in particular, of all the people that have come into and passed through my life since Chris’s death. I woke up reminiscing for some strange reason, looking around my home and feeling totally amazed at how much my life has changed in such a short period of time. My sons are in a good place with wonderful women. They have both make brilliant choices. I think of Colleen, the daughter-of-my-heart, half- way around the world building a new, exciting and fantastic life. I think of my mom and all that she has seen and lived through during her 90 years on this earth. I also see many of my friends leaving the city for calmer pastures and my eyes scan my comfy home and reflect.

I ponder my crazy desire to learn everything I can about the drums and how to play them, then find myself sitting at my keyboard checking out my fingering and chording while feeling the beginnings of arthritic hands. I hear my camera, tucked away in the corner, crying out to part of the music and craziness at the festivals and the local clubs. It seems to be a day of reflection….for no particular reason other than my brain seems determined to meander down that path. Everything is taking its own sweet time to saunter through the synapses of my mind…..and I have an interview at noon!

Maybe it’s time to write about some of those incredible people I’ve come to know…..those who have made an indelible impression on my life, have shared so much and given me such joy through their music and friendship.

Julian Taylor – Lee’s Palace 2015

I hopped downstairs and turned on my stereo, plugged in my phone into my special extension cable and hit shuffle. Julian Taylor came on….again and again and again. It was like I had all his songs on repeat. Maybe somebody is trying to tell me something. So today, I reflect on Julian and his music, his gifts and two remarkably diverse and fantastic albums….Desert Star and The Ridge. This is my Julian Taylor story……

Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF)

My first year as a writer for DBAWIS and my first time at TURF, held at Old Fort York in Toronto. I had accompanied my esteemed editor, Bob Segarini, as he held court at a picnic table in the shade, introducing his newest writer/photographer to the many musicians and folks from the industry. He spotted Julian Taylor in the distance and asked me to find him as he hadn’t seen Taylor in ages. I knew nothing about Julian Taylor, his history or importance in the music scene. After weaving through the crowd, I found Taylor, introduced myself, explained who I was and pointed in the direction of the picnic table. That was my first meeting with Julian. He happily wandered over and joined us at the table chatting with the group of us and inviting Bob and me backstage, to continue the conversation, where he was wrapping up after his show. I met Taylor’s daughter, who stuck pretty close to her dad, and a few members of his band. We hung out and chatted for awhile, I took a number of photos and then we were off. The following night I would see Taylor and his band perform at Lee’s Palace. It was the first time and I was hooked for life!

Julian Taylor & Bob Segarini – TURF 2015

Although the Julian Taylor Band (JTB) didn’t perform too frequently around Toronto, I managed to catch them every time they did. I learned the wild, charismatic persona we see on stage is vastly different from the quiet, soft-spoken, gentle man off-stage.

Julian Taylor – Avalanche Launch

I can’t remember the next time our paths crossed but there was always a nod of recognition or a hello when we ran into each other at the various festivals. I finally popped into the Dora Keough where I heard he was sharing hosting duties with Tyler Ellis for their Monday night open mic series called Riverboat. A couple of years later I celebrated my birthday at Dora’s accompanying Colleen (who was singing and playing guitar) on keyboards. Performing Chris Isaak’s  Wicked Game, Colleen and I were spontaneously joined by Kid Carson on drums, Sam Taylor and Sean O’Shea on guitars and Jon Nye on bass. I couldn’t believe we had an actual “band” behind us! Unnerving yet kinda’ cool. This would be my first and last public appearance performing anything! But I digress…..

Julian & his daughter – TURF, 2015

With the new album Desert Star about to be released, I decided I better find out more about Taylor’s musical journey and happily discovered the music of his first band Staggered Crossing (StagX).  Unfortunately the band had performed their final show at the Horseshoe some years previous, and out of the ashes was born the Julian Taylor Band along with long time friends Jeremy Elliot on drums and keyboard player Dave Engles. Tech Noir was the first album released by the band in 2014.

Julian Taylor

The first album I “reviewed”, purely as a listener, was Desert Star. It’s still in my top 10 list of favourite albums. An ambitious, double-vinyl release, Desert Star never received the recognition it most certainly deserved. The first song of the day today was House is a Garden. A song about a safe place to grow, to teach, to nurture, to heal, to recoup and gain strength, a place that will always welcome you back, that will always envelop you with love.

“This house is a garden of hope, dear

This house is a garden of no fear

This house is a garden of hope, dear”

House is A Garden – Julian Taylor Band

Song number two was Just A Little Bit, still one of my favourite summer songs. Although written specifically to address bullying, its upbeat tempo makes my feet keep moving across the main floor of my house. The perfect dance beat that just makes you feel good.

“Don’t stop believing in yourself

I know that you, you’ve been through some hard times

But you made it through”

Just A Little Bit – Julian Taylor Band

Song number three was Take Me (Stay). A song you find yourself drifting and swaying to as Taylor’s voice draws you in and washes over you….lush, romantic, plaintive and wistful.

“Take me wherever the starlight goes

Take me wherever a leaf has fallen

The intuition of knowing

Is knowing, is knowing which way you should go

The intuition of knowing

Is knowing, knowing which way you should go”

Take Me (Stay) – Julian Taylor Band

His next album, Avalanche, was the bridge to his most recent release, The Ridge. Digging deep inside himself, dealing with the loss of family members, remembering simpler childhood days spent on the farm in Maple Ridge, reflecting on his life journey so far, Taylor has laid himself bare for all to see. A radical departure from Desert Star, The Ridge has a struck a chord with many around the world as accolades pour in. It’s an album for the times, meaningful and relatable to everyone who listens to it.  Both albums are Taylor’s personal story; love of family; apology and realization; loss and hope; the understanding, hopes and fears of being a parent as he raises his own daughter; a tribute to those he loves and the world around him.

The Ridge – Julian Taylor

Whether you want to call it “roots music” or “folk” or hear Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison on Love Enough, it’s the simplicity, honesty and realism that captures your imagination and your heart. You want the story to continue, as Taylor’s voice weaves in and out of each song, craving more. You hear and picture your own stories and life in parallel with his. Sing along with Ballad of a Young Troubadour, dance with your Ola on Ola, Let’s Dance or visualize the freedom and innocence of childhood days on the farm in The Ridge…..every nuance, every syllable resonates. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming piece of work that validates our own fears and struggle side-by-side with our hopes and dreams.

Ballad of a Young Troubadour

Father, brother, son, cousin, uncle, friend, proud of his beautiful West Indian/Mohawk heritage, singer, songwriter, guitarist, creative, sensitive, sincere, kind, thoughtful, soulful, always with firm convictions and strength in his beliefs and huge amount of love for his family, friends and the world around him….this is the Julian Taylor I know. His music is his life. Neither is separate, but so tightly intertwined they are almost indistinguishable from each other.  He writes what he lives, sees and feels…..what he knows. Whatever is happening in his life at that particular moment is reflected in his music and lyrics. It’s his gift to us and his way of communicating with the world.

He is a soul man….not the Motown/R&B kind of soul man…..but one who writes and creates from his soul. He is a storyteller. He is a troubadour.

Thank you my friend.

Avalanche – Julian Taylor Band

Sweeter – Julian Taylor Band

Ola, Lets Dance – Julian Taylor

The Human Race – Julian Taylor

Over the Moon – Julian Taylor

It’s Not Enough – Julian Taylor

Wicked Game – Chris Isaak


All photographs ©2015-2020 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

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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