Pat Blythe – Celebrating Anniversaries……and music

Well….I have three anniversaries this month. As of this writing on February 15, thirty-six years ago today, I married my sweetie. First wedding (and reception) ever held in Sparkles. For those of you old enough to remember, Sparkles was THE de rigueur lounge, club and disco in Toronto at that time. I have no idea what possessed me to book the place for a wedding! Maybe availability, maybe because it was an “all-in-one” since there was a restaurant below that would cater….who knows? Cost of the wedding, including food and non-alcoholic beverages, $1,350 for 65 people. One thing I’ll never forget…..the best man wanting to begin a speech with, “today, Chris got married in a place higher than he is”.

Sparkles

Sparkles officially opened October 4, 1979. It was billed as the highest nightclub in the world, and at 1,136 feet (346 metres), the view was spectacular. Although not so easy to access…..you couldn’t just park and walk in the front door…..the “lounge by day, disco by night” quickly attracted its bevy of regulars, plus the tourists and varied mix of “who’s who”. In order to stroll through the doors of Sparkles, you had to walk across the pedestrian bridge to cross the railroad, head down a very steep escalator and then go up that big glass elevator. The latter was an experience in itself since you could look out, or straight down, through those glass doors and floor. I would face inwards and close my eyes. Heights and I do not mix well.

Getting off the elevator and crossing the threshold into the club was like entering another dimension. It was one of my favourite places to dance. Popular tracks of club goers included West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys), It’s My life (Talk Talk), Heartbeat  (Psychedelic Furs), pretty much anything Bee Gees and Cherry Beach Express (Pukka Orchestra). According to one article I found, one of the DJs (Gibson) liked to mix bits of Monty Python into Spandau Ballet’s True.

Don’t Believe A Word I Say

This is also my seventh anniversary writing for DBAWIS. Never in a million years would I have envisioned this. It was literally the beginning of a new phase of my life, my reintroduction back into the music business, and five insanely crazy, fabulous years that followed. The music, the writing, the people, the clubs, the festivals, the touring, the photography, the reconnections…..most of all, it was the people.

This column has covered so much live music…..the creators and the performers. Up until the pandemic, it was five years of jam-packed everything. Constantly on the move among so many clubs, concerts, theatre productions and festivals, “spare” time included major home renovations while also maintaining my “real” job. The phrase “sitting still” was not part of my vocabulary. Although primarily focused on local indie scene, my weekly musings weren’t restricted to music. This page has also covered grief, suicide, death, the pandemic, traveling, various series on a variety of musical instruments and their histories; the women of rock, blues and jazz; drunken raccoons, books, baking, holidays, gin and books on gin,  and anything else that happened to pop into my mind. I’ve had the honour and pleasure of sharing this space with six other writers (Roxanne Tellier, Gary Pig Gold, Darrell Vickers, Jaimie Vernon, Peter Montreuil and of course, our illustrious editor, music professor and wild computer tamer, Bob Segarini). I thank you all!

Podcast impossibility

I’ve done a lot of learning over the past eight years, specifically in two somewhat technical areas…..photography and podcasting. The former was out of sheer need while also providing a “ticket” to shows I’d never normally see. I discovered I was quite good at “taking pictures” and pursued it quite seriously over the years. Podcasting came completely out of left field, and took a number of months to seriously contemplate while being egged on from the sidelines. I mean really…..how hard can it be?

Podcast

Some of the folks I’ve had conversations with over an 18-month period

With a new and heightened respect and appreciation for sound and audio engineers, episode one of The Pandemic Interviews was released January 26, 2020. This week, it’s the one-year anniversary of my first studio interview. I had graduated from recording with the lowly, but effective cell phone, to a professional setting, courtesy of John and Cyndi Jamieson, owners of Soundhouse Studio. Out of 62 interviews, fourteen have been done at Soundhouse. It’s been pure luxury and a pleasure. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and wonder when I’m going to wake up. I have learned that if I don’t think about it and just plunge in, everything tends to work out in the wash. Just do it! You don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes that’s the best place to be.

Don’t Believe A Word I Say – Segarini

West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

It’s My Life – Talk Talk (live at Montreux 1986)

Living in Another World – Talk Talk

Psychedelic Furs – Heartbeat

Spandau Ballet – True

Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House

Cherry Beach Express – Pukka Orchestra

Thank You for Being a Friend – Andrew Gold

So HAPPY ANNIVESARIES to all of you who have been so encouraging and supportive during this journey. Your guidance and friendship has been instrumental in all that I have accomplished and have yet to achieve. Thank you!

Cheers!

 Photos of Sparkles courtesy of CN Tower archives

Photographs of Tom Wilson, Julian Taylor, Paul DeLong B&W & Cheryl Lescom ©2015-2022 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera

=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.

little-red-headed-dancing-girl

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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