A Guy Walks Into a Music Store…

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 FrontNo, the title is not a setup to a joke. While picking up an accessory this past week at the Long and McQuade Pro location, an nice man overheard me asking the staff about purchasing the Sennheiser MK4 I am currently renting. Turns out Dave Dysart represents an intriguingly clever microphone line from a company called Townsend Labs out of California. He gave me a run down on the mic and related software and how it functions. There is a great review of it at the Sound On Sound site, and after the talk and the read, the Townsend Lab Sphere L22 is definitely on my wish list for the ManCave Studio.

After chatting about mics for a while, other tangential discussions revealed that we knew quite a few people in common, which I won’t name drop at this time. It also interestingly turned out Dave plays with the band UIC, a punk and garage rock band from Exeter, Ontario, formed in June 1982. 

Photo from the Exeter Lakeshore Times-Advance

The band played locally, then made the move to Toronto in 1984. They found acclaim in the city’s indie scene, playing with other garage faves like The Gruesomes, and Deja Voodoo, and opening for acts like Teenage Head, The Dead Milkmen and The Goo Goo Dolls. U.I.C.’s first recording, Our Garage, was released in 1986. Followed a number of cross-Canada tours and a second album Live Like Ninety, featuring a live set at Lee’s Palace late in 1988. After a number of personal changes, the band broke up in 1995, only to recently reform with Dave now taking up guitar duties and Andy Hauber playing bass. Band biography here. Take a look/listen to this recording of the band live! UIC are playing The Horseshoe Tavern on March 23, 2019.

And speaking of live, Félix & the Cats will be playing its first 2019 show at the Linsmore Tavern on Tuesday January 22, with the gritty and real Ryan Schmidt opening and a cool new band (to me) called Level Ground (formerly known as Shank Street Social) headlining. Much more on these fine performers in next week’s blog.

Until then, be well!

signature

I’m Lichen It!

This is not a slogan for a fast food chain moss and lichen burger.

But like the aforementioned symbiotic organism, it’s about mutualism, a topic well explained in this award winning blog by the lovely and talented Mrs. Félix.

A mutualistic relationship is when two species cooperate for mutual benefit. So what’s my point you ask?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that the topic of access to shows and artist compensation has come up before. This week, a post on Facebook that I shared brought the subject up again.

From the comments received, and other posts I’ve read, it appears some musicians have had disappointing club gigs and feelings towards clubs that are to say the least ambivalent. Everyone’s experience will vary of course.

Clearly the relationship between musicians and clubs is mutualistic where both have to win for the “organism” to thrive. Without clubs, musicians would have far fewer places to perform, and without musicians, clubs would have far less to feature on their stages. And for both, there are easier ways to make money, so never doubt that it’s being done for the love of music.

The win-win connection goes beyond musician-club, and in fact 3-sided, as the audience benefits from entertainment, ultimately (and hopefully) paying for the music AND (usually) the food, drinks and service at clubs.

It makes sense to let the patrons know of the terms under which musicians are performing (they may be sympathetic but are not telepathic) and kindly encourage them to contribute something back to the relationship.

After all, it’s simply mutual respect.

ManCave Studio Diary #4 – They Don’t Mess Around in Memphis

This week was highlighted by a happy return to the ManCave for a great session with Sal Indigo aka Salabama.

He and drummer and FatC member Chris Bender came in this past Thursday to lay down bed tracks for four of Sal’s tunes live off the floor. Sal played a Les Paul tuned in A, though only a compressor into my Blues Junior set up in the bathroom around the corner and dialled up pretty loud.

Chris played though the house drum kit, which according to Sal was once used by Downchild Blues Band. It certainly has that vintage sound.

I added bass independently and did the preliminary mixing.

I was particularly impressed by how Sal and Chris were able to get the songs down with very few takes, which captured the fun and energy of the performances.

The song featured here was inspired by a comment made to Sal about the grittiness and authenticity of Memphis, and the importance of “tone” as per the Miles Davis quote in the final verse.

They Don’t Mess Around In Memphis © Sal Indigo aka Salabama

dont-mess-around-in-memphis.m4a

In advance of January 1, let me wish all of you the happiest and best New Year for 2019.

And be well!

Slowly I Turned…

This blog post is coming to you from grey and cool Niagara Falls Ontario where the missus and I spent a few days unwinding after a fulfilling but tiring 2-month stint back in the workforce. I am quite happy to be back to retirement mode and hope to be able to get the recording project in full swing after the holidays.

While here, we caught my favourite cover band, The Lonely Hearts, at the 365 Club which is the bar nested deep within the almost hallucinogenic environment of the Fallsview Casino. People here certainly know how to cut loose.

The band put on a great show for an enthusiastic and sometimes exuberant audience.


Thanks to friends and family who came to the Duke Live this past Tuesday to catch us and Monkey Fightin’ Snakes. It was our best show to date! Neil, Chris and I want to thank MFS and specifically Matthew Davies for the opportunity to open for them. Thanks as well to the staff and sound tech at the club for taking such good care of us. Hope we can do it again.

Monkeys, Snakes and Cats, oh my!

Before getting deeply into the subject of this week’s post, just a quick report on the Félix & the Cats show at The Dock on Queen this past Friday. It was a fun night for all. A big thanks to supporters who came out and a special recognition to Tim, the Dock’s most loyal music fan! Thanks as well to the club for always making us feel welcome.

IMG_6905
Unlugged
IMG_6911
Electrified

The really exciting news is that we are slated to open for The Monkey Fightin’ Snakes on Tuesday December 18 at the Duke Live! This is a huge thrill and honour for FatC to be on the same stage as the MFS in all their awesome simian and reptilian goodness, and will be our first time at the Duke! If you don’t know Monkey Fighting’ Snakes, here is some background gleaned from their site.

The Monkey Fightin’ Snakes are a blues rock band from Toronto. This band is the brainchild of singer songwriter Matthew Davies. Their blues sound is little bit jamband-pop, a little world-folk-twang.

Think Eddie Vedder with Neil Finn and Tom Waits.

The key members are:
Matthew Davies – Guitar, Dobro, Banjo, Ukelele, Pedal Steel, Lead Vocals and Songs
Dave Stoyles – Bass, Guitar, Button Box, Souzaphone, Trombone and Backing Vocals
Daniel Szabo – Drums, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Eric Szabo – Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Bass
Darren Atkinson – Drums, Percussion, Mayhem, Backing Vocals

Monkey Fightin’ Snakes put out their first album of original music “Finish What You Star” in 2014, produced by multi Juno Award winning producer Michael Philip Wojewoda. Recorded live off the floor (through an old Neve desk to 2” tape, no click track, lead vocals and guitar solos captured within the take), the album featured 9 original songs written by singer and guitarist Matthew Davies. After extensive touring, the band returned to the studio to record “Broken Off-Switch” in 2017, this time with 14 tracks also penned by Davies. 2018 saw the arrival of brothers Eric and Daniel Szabo, and much new writing in preparation for the third album.

For a taste of MFS, check out the video below and click over to their YouTube channel.

I hope you can make it out to catch us on the 18th at the Duke, and if not already a fan, become one of Monkey Fightin’ Snakes! Until then, be well!

signature

Fellow Travellers – Part 7

Most of the musicians I have written about are people I have encountered at various shows and open mics in the city, but occasionally, these encounters take place in another context. Such was the case recently when I met two great artists at work, in an entirely unrelated context.

Andrew
Photo by Jen Squires – Photographer

First is Andrew Moljgun, a saxophonist and keyboardist who has made a name for himself as part of Blues/R&B band Bad Luck Woman and Her Misfortunes, as well as an impressive list of performances with a variety of top artists such as Jenie Thai, Peter Elkas, Tommy Youngsteen, and Colin James. If the planet can align, I hope to have Andrew in at ManCave Studio to be featured on a song on the upcoming and somewhat slow-moving Félix & the Cats début EP. It might be tight as he is heading off for a 10-country European tour with Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar right after the New Year.

dittEven more serendipitously, just this week, a singer-songwriter best known as Ditt happened into the front office on school business, and as I overheard him talking about music with the staff there, I had to find out more. Starting off as a drummer at a young age, then touring as tech support with his brother all over Ontario and Quebec for the band Swan led him to dedicating himself to being a musician. Building on his expertise on drums, he taught himself the guitars and began writing his own songs.

Ditt wrote, sang, produced and played on his début CD A Boy Can Dream, with Jake Kolodziej engineering. He exemplifies the kind of dedication and enthusiasm it takes to persist in the music business these days and I wish him well!


Gig Imminence

This Friday, Félix & the Cats are back again at the Dock on Queen, one of our favourite little places to perform. Come on down for a civilized 8:30 start and stick around for the evening. The guys in the band have asked me to feature the quieter acoustic material in set one, the rock it up for the next two, so you can adjust your stay to taste. Great beer too!

Looking forward to seeing you there! Be well!

signature

Screen Gems

It’s been a harrowing week for a lot of reasons, so it came an uplifting change to go to the movies last night to catch Bohemian Rhapsody. The film is not perfect (plenty of anachronisms and factual inaccuracies if IMDB is to be believed) but definitely good show and the performances are excellent, particularly capturing the band’s physical presence on stage. It also inspired this week’s theme.

IMG_0166Way back, the ABC Songwriters’ Circle, show #3 (November 7, 2017) had three uniquely talented musicians on stage: Tyler Ellis, m.e. law, and Jessica Stuart. A brief summary of the evening is in the blog that followed the show.

Just recently, a film has been released that documents Jessica’s search for a childhood friend when she lived in Japan. Produced by Loud Roar Productions in conjunction with CBC Docs, Finding Fukue is a beautifully realized and inspiring 20-minute film that celebrates how true friendship can bridge both distance and time. Jessica is featured of course, but so is her music in the doc’s soundtrack. I have embedded Finding Fukue below and encourage you to watch.

Thanks for watching!

Jessica Stuart will next be performing at the Dakota Tavern for a series called ‘Therapy’ (usually the first Thursday of the month), but this time on Wednesday, December 5, featuring The Jessica Stuart Few (including koto), with Moves and Montréal group Gabi Tomé.

m.e. law has shows scheduled for early 2019, which I hope to update you with as details are confirmed.

Tyler Ellis is performing with his band the Eddy Line and special guests on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at Dora Keogh.

All are well worth catching, Maybe I’ll see you there. Be well!

signature

Talent Pool

So let’s jump in!

Although this week was a hard one due to long days at work (long term contract – still officially “retired”), I had to make time to catch some live music.

46339351_1933660803414653_7611599694044594176_n.jpgWhat better then than the 100th Nightowl show for The Lonely Hearts, about whom I have written before. The Lonely Hearts are an original cover band. If that sounds incongruent, let me explain.

Some cover bands approach the material and attempt to play it as closely as possible to the original. This is fine. The LH prefer to select crowd-pleasing songs, and deliver their essence, dotted occasionally with mash-ups for interest, and inject their own feel into them. An example would be the way they cover Sixpence None the Richer‘s Kiss Me, taking a great catchy jangly-guitar pop song and rocking it further up with a grittier and punchier approach. It’s also a great showcase for Omar Saab’s vocals, as this is originally a song performed by female vocalist Leigh Nash.

img_0264.png
L to R: Curtis Courtemanche (drums and vocals), Graeme Moffatt (bass), Omar Saab (guitar and lead vocals) Dave McCamus (lead guitar and vocals)

FatC was there in full force to celebrate the 100th show, and watch the band perform to packed house, which included a video and audio recording crew.46449284_988394358000385_2143834570770874368_n.jpg

For a sample of the Lonely Hearts sounds, check out the promo reel below. The audience reactions are genuine, and if anything, the live shows I’ve attended are even more energetic.


On our way back to the east end after leaving the Nightowl show, FatC drummer Chris Bender and I stopped in briefly to catch the end of the always excellent Friday Night Blues Jam, hosted by Mike Sedgwick and Robin Hutchison at the Salty Dog. Regrettably, I missed the feature set by the very talented Sam Taylor, aka Little Magic Sam, but we had a chance to connect and talk a bit. Once my day job commitment end (6:15 rise + one hour commute to work is not fun), I may be able to get out there and catch more of Sam’s shows.


Just a reminder we have a few shows coming up in December, plus freshly confirmed shows in the new year at the Linsmore and Relish. Please check the sidebar, subscribe to this site and be on the lookout on social media for event announcements!

Be well!

signature

Mancave Studio Diary #3 – River Town

This will be the final instalment of the diary, for now. Perhaps the next ones will be on the recording the Cats and I are working on. Should be fun!

This recording features Leanna Yamada, whom I’ve written about on before, notably here and here. Leanna also appeared at the ABC Songwriters’ Circle back in March of this year. Here is her bio.

unnamedLeanna Yamada is a Toronto-based singer and songwriter. You can usually find her playing around the city with her band, which includes her creative partner and lead guitarist Chuck Majic. Together they write popular music with folk, blues and jazz influences. Leanna will taking advantage of the Songwriters’ Circle to introduce more personal material she has written as a solo artist, which comments on her own life experiences. (show #18 – March 13, 2018)

Leanna and I met when she started working at a school in North York. As we discovered we were both songwriters, this became a frequent topic of discussion. From there, catching each other’s shows followed. As I was starting to develop ManCave, I asked Leanna and Chuck Majic (her guitarist in the current project at the time) whether they would be interested in having some recordings done at my fledgling studio. They agreed, and were able to put down a few songs with her band.

Fast forward to a few months ago… Leanna had a collection of romantic songs better suited to a keyboard-driven approach. We agreed to see what they could sound like fully produced.

This one is my favourite. Early in the recording of it, I suggested that real strings would sound amazing on it. Leanna had been thinking the same and knew an amazing musician to fit the bill. Enter Daniela Gassi on violin and viola.

daniela.jpgDaniela plays viola regularly in the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, as well as in semi-professional orchestras in and around Toronto.  She also performs with Brampton Music Theatre, playing violin in the pit orchestra for their musical productions. Outside of the classical realm, Daniela also performs as part of pop rock ensemble Three Seasons and the Move, and plays violin in many other indie bands, most recently with Ryan Bonner (Tides On Earth) and with Leanna live.

The concept from the beginning was to make the arrangement as sparse as possible to feature Leanna’s singing, but have a rich tone. Keyboard and vocals were done first, then strings were added at a later date. That session was a very creative one, where Daniela  doubled the signature piano riff, added harmony, and counterpoint to further enhance the song. Finally I played bass in a few spots.

Track List:

  • Electronic piano on Grand setting
  • Violin 1 panned right
  • Violin 2 panned right (on selected sections)
  • Viola panned left
  • Bass through “Modern Amp” model
  • Vocals: single track through the Rode NT-1A panned slightly left
  • Vocals: same as above through the Sennheiser MK-4 panned slightly right
  • Reverb to taste

Enjoy!

River Town ©2018 words and music by Leanna Yamada – (SOCAN)


New Gig Alert

I’ll have more to say about this show in a blog later, but for those who like to plan ahead, December 18 at The Duke Live should definitely be on your calendar!

No automatic alt text available.

Until next week, be well!

signature