Pat Blythe – Smile, you’re on….and music

I’ve actually remembered how to use that contraption they call a camera and now I have two! I used them both for the first time last night photographing the Forever Seger band at their rehearsals. What a joy to have two cameras set up with different lenses…..sort of a “grab-and-go” scenario. Just pop the lens cover, make sure the camera is “on” (this is always helpful), point, focus and shoot. So good to be back!

Me and my camera

Looks like smaller, local and slightly more intimate music festivals are now running full throttle all over the province. All have been outdoors allowing for slightly larger crowds, but also room to move so everyone isn’t so tightly packed they feel uncomfortable or unable to distance. The drive-in shows are also popular, with car horns replacing applause. Thing is, it’s live, it’s happening and folks are thrilled. Musicians are remembering what the six (or four) strings are for, vocalists are actually recalling the lyrics (or improvising), drummers are just having a heyday, and audiences…..they are lapping it all up.

SING! Toronto

Ontario Place, by the water, beautiful voices, lovely sunshine and sunset, the season’s hotdog treat….what could be better? Oh…..and a camera. Such a wonderful evening listening to the harmonic sounds of a cappella performances. The umbrellas were up and every single table was full.

Friend and neighbour Pat Silver enlightened me about the partnership with Ontario Place and SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, along with Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Fest to produce a concert series. The best part is…..it’s all free. To find out more about the series and reserve a ticket click here https://ontarioplace.com/en/special_programs/ontario-place-summer-live-music-festival/  It’s well worth your time. Your ears and heart will love you for it.

The perfect setting for a concert

This past Friday was I heard Beatsync and vocal looper Jordana Talsky. I rode shotgun with Pat in her fabulous Mini Cooper…..top down! (The car’s, not ours) I’ve always loved the Mini Cooper, seriously thought about purchasing one, but never did. What a fun ride!  We arrived early so I wandered around taking a few scenic photos, and then decided to have my one and only hotdog of the year. I have to say…..it was deelish! Now for the show.

First up was Jordana Talsky. She is a singer/songwriter, but her specialty is vocal looping. From her website, “she fuses multi-genre influences into her own sound. Her ethos is to incorporate digital means into live performance in an organic way, and with the loop machine, she creates a choir on the spot with no pre-recorded parts. Jordana weaves unique interpretations of covers with original material. She accompanies herself by voice with a Roland Boss RC505 loop machine.”

Jordana Talsky

Talsky has a lovely clear voice that sailed out over a very appreciative audience. Creating vocal layers of her voice, along with the various handclaps, finger snaps and other vocal “exercises”, she created wonderfully harmonic and innovative pieces that were both familiar yet unique. The Tears for Fears cover, Everybody Wants to Rule the World really grabbed my attention. Not an easy song to do.

Beatsync

A 30-minute intermission/setup saw more people filter in until every seat (and a few rocks) were hosting a many sets of cheeks. Even the Muskoka chairs up on the hill were full! Beatsync was on next. This was the group’s first performance, and the first time they had seen each other in person, in over a year. An eight-piece vocal ensemble, I love that they highlight each member with a song or multiple verses. Their blended voices…..well let me just say I love harmony and they gave me goosebumps. The beat boxing done by JM Erlendson is spot on…..and fun. The man’s sense of humour doesn’t stop, even when the technology does. I can never figure out how a single voice can make sounds like that…..literally an entire drum kit in your mouth? These guys had fun as they engaged with the audience, who decided dancing was a good idea. Not often you see folks dancing to a cappella. A truly great night by the lake!

A wee note about the festival…..

The festival began July 29th and will continue until September 6th. The performances include indigenous artists, up-and-coming young jazz musicians, as well as Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons focused on a cappella music. Tickets are free but you must register. It’s a perfect way to relax and support some of Canada’s incredible talent and of course, the view of the lake is fab!

Rehearsal time…..

This one was indoors at DC Studios and I had the run of the stage. THE best way to take photos. The tribute band, Forever Seger, was rehearsing for their Niagara Falls, N.Y. gig and I was asked to pop off a few snaps. “A few” is not in my vocabulary; particularly since the both the camera and I have not had nearly enough exercise these past eighteen months. I won’t tell you how many frames I took; suffice to say “a few” doesn’t begin to cover it….but I had a blast.

This nine-piece ensemble features three brilliant back-up vocalists The Smokin’ Segerettes (Cyndi Richards, Marysia Gonzalez, Amanda Gordon); a magic mad-man on keys (music director John Jamieson), a “close your eyes and it’s Seger” lead vocalist (Kevin Reid), solid drumming and bass (Mitch Starkman) keeping the beat (David MacDougall), and a guitarist (Josh Gordon) who can sweep you down memory lane with some of those very recognizable guitar leads and solos. Unfortunately the sax player (Carson Freeman) was unable to make rehearsal. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys on stage in front of a live audience. For more info on Forever Seger click here https://foreverseger.com/

Back “home”…..

A couple of last-minute messages popped up on my phone a couple of weeks ago. A private, double celebration….a video shoot wrap and a birthday. Oh and there will be live music. Would I like to join them? HELL YA!!!! An hour later finds my butt firmly planted on a new stool, back at what feels like a home away from home……Cherry Cola’s. With the lovely Cherish “in the house” and birthday boy Sean MacLean slinging drinks, it all comes together. I am so happy to be there I’m almost overwhelmed. Oh how I miss this!

The lovely Cherish Stevenson – owner of Cherry Cola’s

To back track just a bit (about two weeks), Hot Lips had wrapped up their video shoot just a short time earlier and it also happened to be Sean’s birthday. Two great excuses to celebrate! Although Cherry Cola’s was not open to the public at the time, a few family members and close friends of Sean’s, as well as those involved in the video shoot, were invited to raise a glass of birthday cheer and toast to the completion of a successful day of shooting. Hot Lips had also offered to perform for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the “live music” part of message until I was already on my way to the club. Yep, you guessed it…..no camera.

Hot Lips (not at Cherry’s)

Now to top it all off, my lovely niece was visiting (her first visit in a very, very long time) and I was excited to spend some time with her. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a “club night” on her mind, but being the good sport she is, she agreed to join me. We had a blast! It was fabulous to see Alex, Carli and Keith (Hot Lips) perform but also to say hello in person was bliss; so good to see Sean and to wish him happy birthday face-to-face; wonderful to be hearing live music with a small but decent crowd, who were also thrilled to “be back”. You know those “tippy toes” I mentioned in a column a few weeks ago…..well, they’re back! This is my element and the feeling is indescribable.

By the way, Cherish has done an amazingly fantastic job renovating the club with help from Corey, Sally and others. Please RESPECT all the hard work that’s been put into the club and keep Cherry Cola’s alive. If it’s your “home away from home”, treat it as such.

The human voice is the most remarkable and miraculous instrument of all!!

Over the Wall – Jordana Talsky

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (cover) – Jordana Talsky

Only Wanna Give It to You – Beatsync

Til We Get By (cover) – Beatsync

The Fox in The Field – (the men of) Countermeasure

The Boy from New York City –  Manhattan Transfer

Tuxedo Junction – Manhattan Transfer

A Little Space – Pentatonix

Sounds of Silence – Pentatonix

Cheers!

This week’s podcast features The PepTides and my conversation PepTides vocalist and songwriter Olexandra Pruchnicky

All photographs are ©2019, 2021 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera unless otherwise noted

Photograph of Me and my camera © 2017, 2021 Colleen Thornton

Photograph of Cherish Stevenson ©2016, 2021 HC Heather C Photography

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

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“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.

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Together for 34 years, Pat also 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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