Substantial Completion

Finally!

After weeks of work, the isolation room is essentially done.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate.

From top left: the “sauna” with main wall closed—padded door is on the right; the same with front wall open (this is for accessing the mics and drums easily from the front side—it’s pretty tight in there—and moving gear in and out easily; view from the front with wall open; view through the regular door. Bottom row: overhead paired mics in XY pattern—I had previously used the ORTF method but clip limitations make that challenging; cable conduit and sound maze vent for air—drummers with a good oxygen supply keep better time. Bottom right: the drummer’s perspective.

I’ve also added extra cabling so the room can double as a vocal booth or iso booth for amplifiers on overdubs.

Further tests will have to confirm whether it has reduced the outside levels as much as hoped for, but a quick check gives hope that it has gone from unbearable to somewhat annoying, at the very least.


Gig Alert!

While I haven’t stopped playing entirely (a few open mics here and there), it has been rather quiet on the performance front lately. That is about to change as the Cats are back at Relish very soon on Saturday March 2 from 9:30 to 11:30. Please put THAT on your calendars, why doncha!


Winterfolk

This weekend, I will be volunteering at Winterfolk XVII, an annual music festival held in 3 clubs near Danforth and Broadview. You can find me at the Black Swan running cables and setting up mics on Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday evening MC’ing on the 3rd floor at the same venue. Should be a fun gig. More info including the full lineup of artists and ticket prices at the Winterfolk site here!

Until then, be well

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Up To My Eyeballs

Not much of a blog this week. More construction, although hard to tell from the photo. Ceiling done with insulation and paneling. One wall done inside and partially insulated.

Gotta focus…

By the by, thanks to Tony Oldland for having us guest-set at last Wednesday’s jammers’ night at the Salty Dog and to the guys and gals who let me sit in for a fun Stones set.

More updates next week!

Be well!

More Topsy Turvy

The ManCave drum isolation booth work is advancing slowly but surely. That and a combination of other personal and familiar obligations have made the domicile chaotic. Hopefully February will turn out to be Tidy Up month.

The ceiling bulkhead around the heating duct is done, and Mrs. FatC had the brilliant notion to make the entire front portion of the iso booth wall hinge out, so that is what is currently being planned once the full ceiling is installed. A few necessary supplies are also waiting installation.


Past and Future Gigs

A big thank you to the enthusiastic fans who came out to the Linsmore Tavern last Tuesday to support the Cats and our stage companions Mud Lust and the Short Walk, who pleasantly surprised everyone with a full-band set instead of a solo performance, and Level Ground who made their auspicious debut. As always, I am so fortunate to have the fab NeMo on bass and the awesome Chris Bender on the kit.

In case you missed some of the social media posts, Félix & the Cats will be performing a featured mini-set this Wednesday at TonyO’s Jammers event at the Salty Dog. This week, it’s Beatles vs Stones night, so we might even stick around for some covers. Should be a fun night starting at 8:30!

Our return to Relish is only a month away (Saturday March 2 9:30 – 11:30). It’s always great to go back to where it all started and everything changed. For sure I’ll be playing the Relish ode that night.

I have just recently been booked for a solo acoustic set at Might & Main (formerly The Grinder) at the end of March. Hopefully that should be lots of heads-up to add to your calendar. It’s at a pleasant 12-1 pm time slot so consider coming down for a set of my wacky originals and a great cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading! Do share the link if you think others would be interested.

Be well!

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Mud, Cats and Ground

This coming Tuesday has the Cats back on stage at the Linsmore for Indie Tuesdays, this time with former ABC Songcircle guest Ryan Schmidt, aka Mud Lust and the Short Walk opening at 8, then FatC at 9, and headlining at 10, a newly christened band called Level Ground, formerly Shank Street Social. It promises to be an evening of variety and all-original goodness.


IMG_0235 2After a former band went its separate ways, Ryan Schmidt moved to Toronto from Alcona, ON, enticed by the big city lights and easy access to the many open stages on which to play each week. He fell in love with thrill of playing his guitar for appreciative audiences, and the freedom of writing and performing his own material, so much so that he rearranged his life to do it more.

49289661_362358981242513_3918677244033105920_n.jpgRyan thrives in gritty, swampy blues. His songs are grounded in a lyrical honesty while speaking the language of the blues in a new and original voice, with strong images and stories of hurt and frustration. The music sits in solid grooves and soars to his growling slide guitar. Ryan has recently released his first album. Mud Lust and the Short Walk.


50436406_365239720697301_4989694297830850560_n.jpgLevel Ground is the new band that features the writing of lead singer/guitarist James Légère, with Gordon McKinnon on keyboards, Bill Légère AND Mark Marchesich on drums and percussion (mmm! this might get funky!), and Robin Latimer on bass and vocals.
Below is one of James’ songs with the previous simpler 3-piece incarnation of the band. I can’t wait to hear his soulful tunes with the addition of keys and the double percussion!


ManCave Disarray

The studio is currently totally topsy-turvy as I’ve decided to build a drum isolation room before my neighbours complain about the racket. The floor is carpet tile on particle board foam-backed  panels, all floating on heavy rubber padding. Hopefully that will cut down the kick drum transmission. The walls and ceilings will be insulated with acoustic insulation, and probably covered with wood slats rather than drywall, but that is something to figure out later. A plexiglas panel will be included to minimize claustrophobia. More as the project advances.

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Very much a work in progress…

Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you at the Linsmore this Tuesday!

Be well!

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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!

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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.