Pat Blythe – The summer of 2020…..and music

“Heeeeere’s Fall”…..my favourite time of year! Yes, I’m an autumn baby (and so are my kids) so maybe a yearly “rebirth” is what I’m feeling. The season of autumn, to me, is the sensation of new beginnings. The air is lighter, fresher and crisper. We can sweat off a rather thick and muggy, “I can’t even think I’m so hot” summer. The lounge lizard days are behind us. We’re back to work. A new school year begins. The lush vegetation is offering us the fruit of its summer labours, ripe for the picking and ready for us to savour. The trees slowly paint a riot of colour against striking blue skies, something Tom Thompson captured so perfectly in so many paintings. Drives through the country are invigorating and somehow more liberating.

1916 – Autumn Foliage – Tom Thompson

It’s also “nesting” time. Baking, cooking, canning, wood chopping (for some lucky enough to have wood stoves), harvesting our gardens, drying herbs and hunkering down for winter. Whether the Farmer’s Almanac is right or not, winter, whether harsh or mild, is not always embraced by all of us. Just the thought of it can give us the shivers, literally. I’ll deal with it when the time comes. But the lead-up…..all things cinnamon and spice and everything nice…..autumn is the best.

Back Deck Concert Series

I certainly can’t say it’s been a totally dull or monotonous summer. I’ve managed a couple of day trips out of the city. There has been music. True, the clubs have been closed, festivals cancelled, live music offerings have been meagre, etc. etc. But…..it has been busy, at least in my backyard. After much conversation and the tossing around of ideas, I jokingly offered my back deck as a stage, and so July 25 the Back Deck Concert Series was born.

The BTBs – Ed Kopala (guitar), Robert Bilton (bass), Paul DeLong (drums)

Opening the series was The BTBs. Smooth jazz fusion at its best. These guys are back at Relish Bar and Grill every Wednesday at 7pm. My deck furniture was positioned in the back garden and glamped up with a few colourful cushions, cozying up the place. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Mother Nature co-operated every single Saturday. Hot….yes….but sunny and clear.

With your choice of two BBQs (gas or charcoal), sharing food and drink, the jazzy, funky, soulful sounds of summer wafted over the entire neighbourhood. People sat on their back decks, danced at the foot of my backyard, wandered up from Queen Street, stood on the front stoop of their apartment buildings across the street, unfurled their blankets on the grassy area of the TTC loop, everyone enjoying the performances and thoroughly loving the music. (Note: I live next to a TTC loop that curves through the tip of Beach Triangle between Queen St. and Kingston Rd.)

Thunderdome Sounds – Quincy Bullen (vocals/guitar), Paul DeLong (drums), Eddie Bullen (keys) and guest Rob Christian (sax)

A HUGE round of applause to all the incredible musicians who made this happen…..Eddie Bullen, Quincy Bullen, Paul DeLong, Quisha Wint and QW Productions, Ed Kopala, Robert Bilton, Robert Christian and many more, and to the fantastic audience members who simply soaked up the sounds creating five Saturdays of a joyful, musical experiences.

Quisha Wint, Roger Williams (bass), Shamaka (drums), Joe Palawan (keys), Duff Musiq (guitar)

In spite of the “great umbrella debacle” the day before the last concert, the series closed off September 5 with the incredible trio of the Eddie and Quincy Bullen and Paul DeLong. The final note was played just as a few drops of rain began to fall.

The wind snapped the stand and swung the umbrella over the fence into my neighbour’s back deck! Talk about panicked!!!

Every single show “sold out”. Being surrounded by music, especially live music is the epitome of heaven for me. It was five gloriously busy Saturdays full of song, reconnections and laughter.

Family

I have the great fortune of having two wonderful sisters and an incredible mom who will be 91 years young in November. For the first time since I’ve been in this house we spent a weekend together…..just the four of us. Over the years there were always kids or husbands around or plans changed. This time it all worked out…..perfectly!

The Matriarch – Mom surrounded by her three daughters and her sister

A day trip to The Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario, a take-away Indian meal, games of dice, a pancake breakfast on the back deck and a good visit. Mom’s sister, my aunt Maggie, joined us for the Saturday evening take-away. Fingers crossed we can do this one more time before the snow flies and the winter of 2020/21 sets in. Oh, and just for the record, my 91-year-old mom has started taking yoga lessons and loves it!

How Fragile We Are – Stevie Wonder and Sting

There is more to this year than a pandemic. There are two sides to everything….the negative and the positive. Even in the face of tragedy and fear, it has been a year (so far) of resourcefulness, reconnections, appreciation, solidifying friendships, family, nurturing, thoughtfulness, kindness, sharing, laughter, patience, creativity, communication, support, reflection, spiritual awakenings, love and……music.

I also want to add, big, big kudos to Suzi Kory. After arranging, producing and performing at her ‘Love Revolution’ Drive-in Country Music Festival show earlier this summer in Cavan, Ontario (just outside of Peterborough), Kory is bringing the show to Oliver Holler in Columbia, Tennessee on September 19! Performing with Kory are Steve Oliver, Ashton Aikens, Tim Thurman, Sean Carson, Dirt Road Daisies and James Gee. Nothing has stopped Kory in her tracks as she writes, records and travels the continent from Toronto to Los Angeles to Nashville in pursuit of her dreams.

Some summer releases…..

Love Revolution – Suzi Kory

She’s Everybody’s Daughter – Valerie Shearman

Carry Away – Countermeasure

All or Nothing – Monowhales

Pink Power – Dirty Loops

  • No vocals…..focus is bass and drums

Here We Are Alone – Iduna

Ballad of a Young Troubadour – Julian Taylor

That’s That – Rumor

Okay….not a summer release, but I think we still have something to celebrate!

Celebrate – Three Dog Night

Cheers!

All photos ©2019 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera except The Matriarch (group selfie taken by Christine Romard)

=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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