Pat Blythe – Will we ever learn? Kensington punks……and music

As I write this, today is the 21st day of September in the year 2021…..twenty-one years into the 21st century already! If we take a hard look back in the history books, has humankind really and truly changed? Are we more civilized, more intelligent, more advanced, more knowledgeable (or better at using the knowledge we have accumulated); more accepting, more just…..? I’m not so sure. Appearances can be deceiving!

We are presently in the middle of what’s referred to as the “fourth wave” and the new mutant is rapidly grabbing a toehold as misinformation spreads just as fast. Larger and larger groups of anti “vaxxers” and anti maskers are taking their protests to the street, some of which have become violent. More and more people are backing away from vaccinations in droves. Our health has now become a political battlefield. What’s going on around the world is dividing families, friends and even countries. Nobody can seem to get a grip. Fear is the new four-letter world; suspicion, scepticism and uncertainty reign supreme…..and here in Canada we just wasted over $600M re-electing the same government! What’s up with that?? Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes and misjudgements again and again and….. Maybe Forrest Gump’s mom was right….”stupid is as stupid does.”

A Punk book launch

Roaming around Kensingtson Market in beautiful weather a couple of weeks ago with my very good friend Barbette, we decided on a patio lunch. It was an excellent introduction to the afternoon as we enjoyed the cool breezes….just enough to keep us comfortable on a hot and humid day. We then sauntered down to Super Market on Augusta to check out a book launch. It was a well-attended event and I had the pleasure of meeting the book’s author as well as some of the subjects in the photographs.

Spyder aka Melissa Grace Olson

Called Punk, the 7×7 inch, hardcover book is a visual history of the Kensington Market Punks in the 80s and 90s. It is a fantastic collection of photographs illustrating the lives of the Punks who gave Kensington Market life and colour. Designed, edited and published by Spyder aka Melissa Grace Olson, the book is a compilation of photos provided by the many people who have called Kensington Market their home, some for over 50 years.

The book is a narrative, not only of the Punks themselves, but the hairstyles, clothing, celebrations, homes, hangouts and alleyways; you can feel the fun, love, laughter and craziness. It is also a celebration of then and now; of the people still here and the ones that are gone. There are so many stories behind those faces.

The Book Launch

The majority of pictures are not professionally taken photographs. They are what I call “memory moments”…..snaps…..quickly captured by whoever had the camera (no cell phones back then) at that given moment. They are honest and real. Snippets of life and lives frozen in time. Punk also reveals how much of a “family” the Punks were…..and still are today.

Babette and Spyder

Spyder states it best in the book’s forward. “Many of us came from homes that were far less than perfect. We didn’t fit in anywhere else. Some of us were alone in the world. Together, we forged a family – while albeit at times dysfunctional, it was a place where we all finally made sense of the world and of ourselves.”

We drank all the beer, made music and art, toured across the country and sometimes even across the ocean, travelled together, lived together and loved together. Sometimes we even fought together, against social and political disparities – and sometimes against each other.”

“There are moments in time that can never be recreated, moments that made us who we are today – a generation of strong, resilient, creative, talented, smart and beautiful people with hearts of gold.”

On the following pages is a glimpse into our world…”

On that note

 Tuesday’s column (that would be yesterday) was written by Darrell Vickers. Why am I pointing this out? Well…..because Darrell is a human dictionary of the English language…..a hilarious, witty, dripping-with-sarcasm, no-bullshit writer who is about to fill us in on working (and writing) for one of the funniest individuals to ever roam this planet……George Carlin. It reminded me of how much I loved Carlin and his points of view on the world and the human condition. I highly recommend you take a gander at Darrell’s pieces. I’m looking forward to next week’s.

…..and because we’ve become such a pathetic “politically correct” society sometimes I think we need to be reminded of the “real”.

Euphemisms – George Carlin

This week’s podcast!

I began The Pandemic Interviews sixteen months ago, and I thought it time to begin revisiting some of those musicians I spoke to last year. I’m still playing catch-up with the 2020 interviews while continuing with new interviews, so it’s all a bit of a jumble with no particular order. However, all these artists have something to say, valid points to be made alongside stories and laughs… intricate and important part of the soundtrack of our lives.

Top right – Fibes kit; next three photos with the Ones Show; Jeans ‘n Classics show with local community orchestra at George Weston Hall, Toronto; Paul DeLong’s One Word at The Rex; with Pretzel Logic (Aja solo) at the Orbit Room

This week I’m catching up again with Paul DeLong and this time we’re in a professional recording studio. (Thank you Soundhouse Studio and John Jamieson) It was a relaxed conversation with lots of laughs. Paul has been a part, and in the heart, of Toronto’s music scene for just shy of 55 years. From bar gigs to international touring, from rock to theatre, he has stories to tell and some solid advice for young musicians.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? – The Kingston Trio

Sarah Smith exudes a special kind of warmth and passion which connects almost instantly with her audiences, on or off stage. An incredible performer, songwriter, singer and musician, Sarah has just released her new single Your Name (God). She has a huge fan base in Europe and tours there two to three time a year, particularly Germany and the Netherlands. Guess where she is right now until the end of October?

According to Sarah, I wrote it while in a place of complete desperation. I found myself not knowing, anxious and worried. I felt trapped, confused, alone and scared. Where did my “big picture” go? The only way I could move forward was to surrender and reach out. This song is the sound of my inner voice coming back to me.”

Your Name (God) – Sarah Smith

In 2021 Sara also released Sarah Smith and the Lovers of London, an EP of six songs co-written by Sarah Smith and Noelle Frances, along with other London-based artists: Sarah MacDougall, Doug Varty, Richard Gracious, Saidat, Addison Johnson and Jenn Marino. Sarah and her partner recently relocated from the London, Ontario area to North Pender Island on the B.C. coast.

If I Ever Leave this City – Sara Smith

A new single by Canadian singer/songwriter Rosita Stone; a collaborative effort between Rosita and BigChris Flores (Fergie, Slash, Rihanna). According to Rosita, “We were born to bring love to the world – compassion, equality, non-judgement, gender diversity acceptance…”

Love to the World – Rosita Stone

Recorded live off the floor in the D&F dressing room! Dizzy is Mark Lalama and Faye is Amanda Walther, a Canadian jazz piano/vocal duo. Silky, sexy and oozing with heat. “Delicious and indulgent, Chocolate Cake was written as a love song for those with an appetite for polyamorous cuisine. Celebrating the freedom to love and eat whatever and with whomever you choose, it started with the line… ‘I’ll always save some room just for you’ and baked to a full rise from there.”

Chocolate Cake – Dizzy and Fay

Well…’s not Monday, but the rain is here for the next day or so. Makes one feel a bit introspective…..quiet and a tad wistful. Fall (my favourite time of year) arrives at 3:20pm this afternoon…..bring out the apple cider and cinnamon sticks! The rain we can do without!

Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters

Not to leave you in a funk…..a little Queen. This is a song an old friend, whom I’ve since lost touch with, used to leave on my voicemail. For several years running I would come into work on my birthday and Don’t Stop Me Now would be the first Happy Birthday message I would hear. It always made my day! Thank you Ron wherever you are.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Freddie use to write what I call “little ditties”, fun pieces reminiscent of the 20s or 30s. Fun, light-hearted…..I could always visualize the choreography for them. Here are two of them:

Seaside Rendezvous – Queen

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen


Photographs of Paul DeLong and the Punk book launch ©2018-2021 Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”

Just because…’s one of those days…..


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.


“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 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! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: