Some recent social media posts have got me thinking more deeply about the oft-read rant regarding “amateur” musicians “stealing professional” jobs. It is the last quoted word that got me curious.
What does it mean to be a “professional musician”?
At the far end of the scale, it’s obvious: musicians who earn their entire livelihood from playing music. Easy enough!
But what about, say, someone who works in a music store and plays shows in the evenings and on weekends? Does the day job disqualify that person from the professional ranks or is working in a music store a mitigating factor?
Okay, let’s take that further. What about someone who work instead as a server in a live music venue? Does the place of day employ shield a musician from being ranked amateur? What if he/she/they work in a doughnut shop?
Is it a question of how many hours performed vs. the day job?
Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong…could it be a question of expertise or raw talent? Is it attitude and the ability to please an audience? Is it originality?
I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear back from you, dear readers. Just leave a comment if you wish.
This Saturday the Cats Will Play
After a good and hot rehearsal last night working through the four new tunes we hope to launch, the Cats are raring to go this Saturday at Relish 2.0. We kick off at 9:30, but please come early for the food and former ABC Songcircle guest One-Eyed Oracle (aka Boris Buhot) playing from 7 to 9.
The band is very excited to be back for the first time (?) at the new Relish 2.0 at 511 Danforth this coming September 21, 2019.
We hope to introduce a few new songs that I have tried out at the open mic and one world première, so it should be a special evening on all counts. You can subscribe to the band’s event calendar here, should you wish to be kept up to date while avoiding social media overload.
Ultra brief blog this week just adding details to the Linmore show mentioned last week and scheduled for October 15.
Guest will be:
The Cats will be on at 9:00. A few new tunes may make their way into the set list, so regular fans will be in for more than the usual.
Closing the night at 10:00 will be Phillip Vonesh and the Spare Parts, for whom I played a while back when the lead guitarist was away. This time Phillip will be backed by his usual crew so a great show is in store for all.
Again, just a short update this week. The Salabama show at Relish 2.0 went great, thanks to solid playing by Sal himself, Tony Oldland on bass and Paul Brennan on drums. Special thanks to the brilliant Sean McAuley on harmonica too, and to Rick Henry for a superb mixing job and for having the nerve to tell me to turn down! It’s always a fun privilege to play with Sal and have the chance to try out live the arrangements we’ve worked out in the studio sessions at ManCave. Here’s a sample courtesy of Dave Correia with one of Sal’s originals, Swamp Chickin.
TheCats have been on low-profile for most of the summer, but a few shows are beginning to line up for the fall. September 21 will be our first time at Relish 2.0, then October 15 at the Linsmore Tavern with special guests, and finally (so far) a Sunday matinee at the Black Swan with special guest OmarSaab of the Lonely Hearts.
This Saturday (August 24, 2019 – 9:30 pm) will be my first full show at the new Relish, albeit not with the Cats but with the one-of-a-kind Salabama. I’m very excited and proud to be called upon to be second guitar for this one particularly as Sal has recorded many of the tunes we will be performing in the ManCave Studio and this will be a great opportunity for you to get a sneak peek of his upcoming album.
The Answer to Last Week’s Quiz
The bass feet posted last week belong to as follows:
In the last few weeks, I’ve caught shows by a few bands that were characterized by a phenomenon I had never noticed before: the Barefoot Bass Player.
So just for fun, here are photos of three players who I know directly or play with who I know. See if you can figure out who is who. Answers next week.
As Mrs. Félix & the Cats will be away for business for a few days, there may be a few more shows to catch during her time away…tbc.
Today for sure I will be at Long & Mcquade for the new mural unveiling and to catch the Lonely Hearts performing there live, then later it’s off to the Linsmore for FatC drummer Chris Bender‘s cover band Rock Bottom. Should be a fun night!
Super brief as there is a lot going on in the other aspects of life.
Renovation has reached a significant turning point, one where I have removed the stuff stored and cluttering up ManCave Studio thereby more or less reclaiming the space. Just in time too as I have a session scheduled tomorrow.
New Open Mic
A new open mic is starting up this Wednesday at The Cut, which appears to be formerly the St. Louis Bar & Grill. The host for August has impeccable credentials in that it’s David Macmichael who has been doing the same at Relish B&G for many years. It’s on my calendar to check out and I expect to report back next Sunday.
Just back from a lovely weekend in Buffalo, New York with the lovely Mrs. F&theCats. Impressed by how many big homes there are there and the obvious care the owners devote to the city as a whole. Thanks to the Elmwood Village Inn for being extraordinarily welcoming hosts. Highly recommend this B&B if you are going through Buffalo.
Last night was a long deferred return to the Amsterdam Bicycle Club to say hi to Henry and Laurie and catch some Afro-Brazilian vibes with Bruce Jones, Robin Asher and Lucya Almeida. Great vibe!
Tonight, Tony Oldland is hating a Rolling Stones themed jam at the Salty Dog, so that should be fun.
This Friday, it will be a special night as one of fave bands, the Lonely Hearts, is playing for the first time ever at the Dakota Tavern. Got my ticket and eager for a hot show!
Our story begins in ancient times in a Toronto east-end bar.
The Only Café at that time hosted a Saturday open mic, and led by multi-instrumentalists Derek Downham, Tim Bovaconti and Terence Gowan. I used to go there as often as possible, particularly to support John Pelubski, and see who else might surprise everyone by showing up. At that point, I was still too intimidated by the talent and repressed to play at this venue.
One of the “regular” bands I often felt was a highlight of the evening with their energy and originality included a drummer named Jace Traz. It took a few years to make the connection that this was the very same individual I would know much better as a regular at Relish.
Jump forward a few years, and the aforementioned Relish connection begins. Jace would often be there subbing on drums at Stir It Up Sunday when regular co-host Paul Brennan was away, and for other bands when needed, including on one occasion for me.
But what really got my attention was when Jace would switch to guitars and play original material. That’s when I realized I was hearing one of Toronto’s greatest undiscovered power-pop phenomena. Jace’s hyper-catchy melodies and rhythms layered over lyrics ranging from the delightfully metaphoric Pistachio Girl, through the more self-deprecating Fake, and to the darkly cautionary Rape Van. Few songwriters could blend disparate subjects like mathematics and heartbreak, like in the beautiful Divide. Each of his appearances was a highlight of the evening and a consistent audience favourite.
Tonight (July 23, 2019), Jace will be performing a set at the Linsmore Tavern. I hope all of you reading this will be there at 8 to see and hear for yourselves. Check out the links above too for a preview!
Relish 2.0 opened its doors last Saturday to an enthusiastic and plentiful crowd. The place was humming and, judging from the non-stop activity by staff, it seems business was very brisk. The location is prime, with plenty of regulars there and many walk-in patrons.
The first (ever) band up at 7 was the $6 Tall Boys, with frontman David Macmichael also celebrating a birthday. I’ve heard David, Jace Traz and Arch Rockefeller many times before, always enjoying it, but there was a unique energy to it that night, and special appearances by Chelsea Reed and Dean McKinnon for an extra bit of special. The sound was vastly different from the old Relish due to significantly larger dimensions in all directions, and masterfully mixed by Rick Henry. The space is impressive yet still comfortable and welcoming, with lots of decor elements from the old venue to make regulars feel at home.
The food menu included all my favourites, some of which I sampled, promptly served. All in all, it felt like the place had been running for weeks, rather than just a few hours. Kudos to Joanne Clayton and the entire staff who have obviously invested themselves fully into making it the best transition it could be.
I plan to be back this Sunday for my first Stir It Up at the new location (I was away for the actual inaugural) and expect to report on that shortly after.