-By Gary 17-
Songwriter, promoter and impresario Pete Otis touched the hearts and fired the imaginations of many people across Toronto and in the East York area where he lived and grew up after immigrating to Canada as a child in the 1950s as Panagiotis Panayotou.
As I lamented in my eulogy shortly after his passing on January 5 of this year, following his collapse just after his set at the New Year’s Eve show he staged at Black Swan Tavern, there was no public funeral for the affable sparkplug whose sense of humour and passion for promoting live music endeared him to so many.
But some two dozen of the many musicians whose careers he helped boost through staging of over 80 concerts and music events, release of four compilation cds of local artists and attending hundreds of others’ shows, will be gathering today for a “Songs of Pete Otis” concert to pay tribute both to his role in their community and to his own prowess as a composer.
A highlight of nearly every show Pete put on was when he would take to the stage and perform a few of his eclectic tunes that ranged from softly sentimental poignant ballads through rousing dance-oriented barrelhouse Bluesabilly and a few harder-edged Rock numbers with political and social comment.
On his most recent album of originals, Mountains To Climb, he “unabashedly bares his soul,” as I described it in my review of the 2016 release, which includes songs that “pull at the heartstrings with gentle unfoldings of depths from genial surface starts” as well as others unleashing “his inner fire and some inner brimstone.”
Many of the artists performing today between 4 and 8:30 at the Jasper Dandy club at 725 Queen Street East will be doing covers of Pete Otis songs from that disc and two previous releases, including some by an all-star house band from the “Blues & Boogie Party” series he put on the Swan that includes appearances by some of the icons he helped promote such as George Olliver, Debbie Fleming and possibly Mike McKenna.
Copies of Pete’s albums, along with the four compilation discs he produced through his SongTown enterprise, will be available at today’s show.
In addition to the musical tributes, Pete’s son, Paul Panayotou, will unveil both a video compilation of some of his performances and other life moments and three new Pete Otis originals that he had recorded shortly before his death as part of a new album.
The full schedule of performances and activities, which will also be recorded for broadcast on Radio Humber by host Paul Cross, who took the lead in organizing this event and will also be emceeing, appears below. Cover is just $10 to help cover costs, with any surplus donated to a charity of his family’s choice.
|#||Time||Performer||Songs Performed||Pete Otis Song - **
SongTown song - *
|(Gonna) Take My Time
|Still Love You **|
|6||4:52-4:58||Gary 17||Last Teardrop**|
|7||4:58-5:04||Darwin Bruce||Love is the Victim**|
|9||5:16-5:28||Harpin’ Norm||Coboconk (for Pete)
World’s Strongest Man
|10||5:28-5:40||Peter Verity||Blue as I Can Get,|
|11||5:40-5:43||Linda Goldman||Words- tribute to Pete|
|12||5:43-5:46||Arlo Burgon||Words- Ode to Pete Otis|
|13||5:46-6:05||Paul Panayotou||VIDEO tribute **||**|
|Transition to band|
|14||6:15-6:30||Hap Roderman||Nervous **
Holy Moly **
|15||6:30-6:42||Pat Little||Home Fires
Workin’ On It
|16||6:42-6:54||Paul Polisano||Got You on my Mind
Come back Baby
|18||7:06-7:12||Paul Cross host update||You Broke My Radio*|
(then pause, re-set)
|7:12-7:24||Fernando Curcione||Mamma Dear
|7:24-7:36||Glen Hornblast||Loretta||Rainy Nashville Night**|
|21||7:36-7:48||Debbie Fleming||Still Got the Blues for You
What’s Goin’ On
|22||7:48-8:00||Nicole Dunn||Hound Dog
Flip, Flop and Fly
|23||8:00||George Oliver||For Pete:
Can’t Turn Ya Loose
Something is Wrong with my Baby
Unchain My Heart
|24||Finale ?||All||Holy Moly**|
House Band: Hap Roderman, Rob Kirkpatrick, David Morrison, Ed Michael Roth, special guest Tom Robertson