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SP Simms


Just before showtime at the now defunct Renaissance Cafe on the Danforth, I received a call from my friend Merle, who apologized for not being there, but did I want to be in a play that she was in? A play! I hadn't set foot on a theatrical stage in years, and was missing it.   

So I read for Maya Toman the director, and got the part. Maya and I became chums quickly, and she asked me if I had any music which we could use for scene changes and intermission. I came up with a few tunes, and two of them are in this collection. 

Then I heard Maya singing some songs from the Republic of Georgia with two other women, and the resonance of her voice gave me chills. It still does. 

Over the next couple of years we expanded our repertoire, playing at cafes, pubs, and various events on the Toronto Islands. I invited her to bring her violin and voice to some of the shows I do for Seniors, and to Saturday mornings at St. Lawrence Market. Her facility with languages got me to take my own love of language learning more seriously, including my own Welsh heritage. Finally we got around to recording some of the stuff that gives us joy, and with help from Bob, Vezi, and Ed, here it is! (Steve Paul) 

GRATITUDE is due to the many people who helped make this project possible, and especially Martin MasonGrant, Linda Lucas, Derek Simms, Catherine O'Donnell, M.C. Mayo, Brian and Diane Wastle, Becci Hayes, Joan Brennan, Nadine Demoe, Gundega Irene Melli, and Loren Hicks. 

Maya would like to honour some people for their encouragement and the inspiration to pursue her talents: Bob Ezrin, Joso Spralja, Stefan Ciotlos, and Eric Blau. Not to mention Katharine Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Lucille Ball. 

Thanks to Bette Forester for big help with the CD layout and typesetting. 

A salute to The Tranzac Club for years of faith and indulgence. 

Huge thanks from SP & Maya to Linda for a hundred and one reasons. We love you. 

Maya T

Weather was to blame, and to be exalted, in forming our duo of SP Simms and me. Some years ago, my ability to play sweet violin was nixed due to a serious injury after slipping on ice on my street, while going to a CBC shoot in the City. Even three years later I could scarcely play 'Twinkle twinkle' on my violin. My inner drive turned to creating Scaramouche Theatre Company, for which I translated/directed/ performed in, two of Carlo Goldoni's Commedia dell' Arte plays, as well as choosing  St-Stephen-in-the-Fields Church in Toronto's Kensington area for a historic and beautiful production of "The Lion in Winter". 

Following was a production at The Rhino in Toronto's Queen St, West area. I was casting a challenging role for an actor in a play within one of three one act plays which I titled "Menage of Three by Tennessee". Our mutual friend and superb actress, Merle Matheson, suggested SP Simms.  The rest is our musical history. He aced the audition and rocked the role. 

I thank SP for challenging me to pick up my beloved fiddlededee again. (Maya) 

Steve Paul Simms in "Menage of Three by Tennessee" directed by Maya Toman
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Na Bembasu 

(Traditional, Bosnian)


Kad ja podjoh na Bembasu, na Bembasu na vodu

Ja poveoh bijelo jagnje, bijelo jagnje sa sobom-


Sve devojke Bembasanke na kapidjik stojahu,

Samo moja mila draga na demirli pendjeru


Ja njoj rekoh ,

"Dobro vecer. Dobro vecer, djevojko"

Ona meni, "Doj do vecer, doj vo vecer, dilberce"


Ja ne odoh isto vecer, vec ja odoh sutra dan.

Drugog dana, moja draga, za drugog se udala.



(translation by Maya Toman)



When I set forth to Bembasa, to Bembasa to the river,

I took with me a white lamb, a white lamb along with me.


All the young ladies of Bembasa were standing at the gate.

Only my darling one was at the iron window.


I said to her, "Good evening, Good evening, young lady,"

And she said to me, "Come this night, come to me this night, my love,"


I did not go that very evening, instead I went the following night.

The next  night, my darling was wed to another.



Maya Toman – lead vocal

Steve Paul Simms – guitar, vocal

Bob Cohen – bass

La Llorona  

[in Spanish, traditional]


Todos me dicen el negro, Llorona, negro, pero carinoso.(x2)

Yo soy como el chile verde, Llorona, picante, pero sabroso (x2)


Ay, de mí, Llorona, Llorona de ayer y hoy (x2)

Ayer, maravilla fui, Llorona, y ahora ni sombra soy (x2)


Dicen que no tengo duelo, Llorona, porque no me ven llorar (x2)

Hay muertos que no hacen ruido, Llorona, y es más grande su penar (x2)


Ay, de mí, Llorona, Llorona de azul celeste (x2)

Y aunque me cueste la vida, Llorona, no dejaré de quererte! (x2)


'The Weeping Woman'  (original translation by Maya Toman)


Everyone tells me I am gloomy, Llorona, that I am dark, but yet I am loving

I am like the green chili pepper, Llorona, spicy,  and yet very savoury


Alas, my Llorona, Llorona of days gone by, and of the here and now--

In the past, I was a marvel to behold, and today, am not even a shadow of my yesterday


They say that I do not grieve, Llorona, because they do not see me weeping

There are the dead who make no sound, Llorona, and yet their torment is that much greater


Ah, my Llorona, Llorona of a celestial Blue--

Even though it costs me my life, Llorona, I will never stop loving you.


Maya Toman – lead vocal, palmas

Steve Paul Simms – guitar, vocal

Bob Cohen – acoustic bass guitar

Play for Time

by Steve Paul Simms


Play for time

She could always change her mind

She may just be running scared

Give her time to get prepared


After all

It'll do no harm to stall

Don't pretend you just don't care

Who knows what you might have there?


Casual words, indifferent smile

All in the sacred name of style

You'll have to wager more than that, my friend

Don't let your love walk out the door

Don't place your bets on Evermore

You may just have to win the day

You may just have to play for time


Loving well

Falling under someone's spell

Singing every song for her

Other faces start to blur


She is all

She's an empire's rise and fall

She's a brand new pair of shoes

She's the joy inside the blues


But in a wink she might be gone

And in the naked light of dawn

You know you'll never feel that way again

Declare your love and do it now

Play out your heart and take your bow

And if she still goes on her way

It didn't hurt to play for time


Steve Paul Simms – vocals, 6- and 12-string guitars

Maya Toman – violin

Vezi Tayyeb – organ, piano

Bob Cohen – bass, tambourine

Watchin' the Wind Blow

 by Steve Paul Simms

Watchin' the wind blow

What we're doin' is we're

Watchin' the wind blow

And it's blowin' very hard today

Yes, it's blowin' very hard


Summer's gone again

Pack up all the pretty women and men

Time to button up your overcoat

Weather's gettin' loud

What's that I hear?

Somethin' rumblin' up through the air

Just a little rain

Just another little hurricane


Watchin' the wind blow ...


Wash away the pain

Can you cover every mountain and plain?

Can you make it like it was before -

When the world began?

Floatin' along

On a river runnin' over with song

Only you and me

Let it be how it was meant to be


Watchin' the wind blow ...


What can you teach me and how can you reach me and

Why worry anyhow?

Travel beside me and try to abide me

It's all just beginning now


Summer's gone again ...



Steve Paul Simms – vocal, guitar

Maya Toman – pizzicato violin

Vezi Tayyeb – keyboard

Bob Cohen - bass


by Joseph Parry and Richard Davies (Welsh, 1875)


Paham mae dicter, O Myfanwy,
Yn llenwi'th lygaid duon di?
A'th ruddiau tirion, O Myfanwy,
Heb wrido wrth fy ngweled i?
Pa le mae'r wên oedd ar dy wefus
Fu'n cynnau 'nghariad ffyddlon ffôl?
Pa le mae sain dy eiriau melys,
Fu'n denu'n nghalon ar dy ôl?


Myfanwy boed yr holl o'th fywyd
Dan heulwen ddisglair canol dydd.
A boed i rosyn gwridog iechyd
I ddawnsio ganmlwydd ar dy rudd.
Anghofia'r oll o'th addewidion
A wneist i rywun, 'ngeneth ddel,
A dyro'th law, Myfanwy dirion
I ddim ond dweud y gair "Ffarwél".


(Wikipedia translation)


Why is it anger, O Myfanwy,

That fills your eyes so dark and clear?

Your gentle cheeks, O sweet Myfanwy,

Why blush they not when I draw near?

Where is the smile that once most tender

Kindled my love so fond, so true?

Where is the sound of your sweet words

That drew my heart to follow you?


Myfanwy, may you spend your lifetime

Beneath the midday sunshine's glow,

And on your cheeks O may the roses

Dance for a hundred years or so.

Forget now all the words of promise

You made to one who loved you well

Give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy,

But once last time, to say Farewell.


Steve Paul Simms – vocal, guitar

Ed Roth – accordion

Bob Cohen - bass


Cold Black Night

by Steve Paul Simms & Maureen O'Donnell

I know a man whose words are silver

There is no earthly grace he lacks

But when he's sung his song so tender

There is no one can find his tracks

And if my heart were made of crystal

It could not break more easily

And if my eyes were clear as diamonds

There is no more they'd want to see



All through the cold black night

Love takes its silent toll

And though I try to fight

Stubborn tears fall


There have been times of pure contentment

Pleasures I've passed without a care

And of the rain that fell between them

Lord only knows I've had my share

But only love has overwhelmed me

Lifted me up and tossed me round

Carried me high upon its shoulders

Shattered me hard upon the ground




All through my days I feel his presence

Walking beside me as I go

Sharing my thoughts just like the lover

Who used to feel my ebb and flow

At the next turn I'll try to lose him

Shaking him from my reverie

But then I look at my reflection

And it is through his eyes I see



Maya Toman – lead vocal

Steve Paul Simms – guitar, mandolin, vocal

Bob Cohen – bass, 8-string ukulele

Vezi Tayyeb – piano, tambourine


by Steve Paul Simms


Karin, Karin, Karin

I know the sorrows you've seen

Come lay your head on my breast

And leave your pride for the rest

These lines that furrow your brow -

Is that what worries you now?

We're twice as old as we were, Karin

And no more wise


Karin, Karin, Karin

Where have your memories been?

Are you recalling the boy

Who filled your future with joy?

His young intentions were good

He did the best that he could

His ship was wrecked in the night, Karin

Of no more lies


On the Rue de Regret

Clowns forever colliding

On the road of regret

We will no more go riding

Dans la Rue de Regret

Lives are lost


Karin, Karin, Karin

When you were only nineteen

There was no shadow behind

No fear to poison your mind

How were you ever misused?

Somehow your spirit got bruised

Now nothing else looks as sweet, Karin

To those sad eyes


Karin, Karin, Karin

Don't cry for what might have been

The things that never got done

The gold that never got spun

Young girls untroubled and free

Are half as lovely to me

As all the living I see, Karin

In your sad eyes

In the valley of dreams

Fools colliding forever

In the valley of dreams

No one ever says never

In the valley of dreams

We will dance



Steve Paul Simms – guitar, vocal

Bob Cohen – bass, 8-string ukulele

Maya Toman – violin

Ed Roth - accordion

For the Rest of My Years

by Steve Paul Simms


The first dawn of Springtime is on the horizon

The first buds have burst on the tree

As I stand and I gaze out across the blue water

At Alison sailing to me


How long have I sat in the kitchen without her

The tea kettle whistling away?

For the touch of a woman's hand soft on my shoulder

I've waited too many a day



So lie down beside me, my darling

For an hour, for a day, for the rest of my years

And the sound of our laughter will ring through the hillside

And drown out a lifetime of cares


The streets of Toronto are still full of wonders

But not many more will I roam

For my heart's true companion is calling me over

And only with him am I home




Steve Paul Simms – 6- and 12-string guitars, vocal

Maya Toman – violin, vocal

Bob Cohen – 8-string ukulele, bass

Ed Roth - accordion

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