So What Took You So Long?

Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been

The Grateful Dead

Those who know me well have heard me talk about finally putting out my music…for a while now.

The day has finally come.

Although one song has already been put online through the Stir It Up Someday compilation, this current release is the first officially on the Félix and the Cats “label”, and a staple of our regular set list, in those days when we actually played live.

So here it is: Movin’ and Shakin’ the World on Bandcamp.

I want to thank Chris and Neil for sticking with me and going above and beyond in getting me the tracks to finally get this one properly recorded. Any errors in the mix are my own, but never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or at least kinda okay.

I hope you like it!

Be safe and be well!

signature

ManCave Studio Diary #8 – Console-ation

Fraz Milne at Relish on September 18, 2020

This pandemic-enforced isolation has provided an opportunity to spend more time and energy on recording projects. Other than catching one live show (Fraz Milne’s Looper Madness at Relish), things have been consistently anchored to home.

This has provided an opportunity to work on new songs, some in the works as I write this, and collaborating with the band to record parts remotely.

However, and with all the necessary precautions, a few sessions have taken place here down in the ManCave, namely with Arch Rockefeller to track drums played in the cozy drum booth by the masterful Alonzo Moore for an upcoming album. Both are consummate professionals and I thank them for their patience as I continue to learn better techniques to record. The opportunity to get more and better gear is a benefit as well.

I’ve also had a chance to work with other friends to mix their songs: Salabama’s upcoming full album release has been pushed back due to the pandemic, so the plan for now may be to release singles as the tunes are done and mastered. There should be something up soon, so keep your eyes open on social media.

Chris Scian has also been a guest to discuss mixing techniques, which led to a reissue of his song Frontline, which is embedded below.

Lastly, Omar Saab, frontman for The Lonely Hearts, and soon to be son-in-law, has been beavering away in his home studio in Hamilton on original material. His first release, under the Mean Streaks banner is Teenage Rush which is also included in this post. Omar also put together the video for this song.

I hope you will take a moment to listen to these two artists’ songs.

I should have another post for you in November, provided the pandemic doesn’t get in the way. As such, as urge everyone to be extra cautious as we enter this second wave.

Be safe and well!

signature

Reset

One benefit to the pandemic has been a chance to re-examine the tasks to which I have committed myself. Some new ones have been initiated, some strengthened, and a few may have to fall by the wayside.

Amongst the latter, this blog has been a consideration.

After some reflection, I have decided to change this blog’s publication frequency as compelling content seems harder to come by and, as you may have noticed, the length of the posts has grown shorter since I began a few years back.

Starting this month, the posts will appear monthly and will feature a greater number of smaller announcements, in many cases likely summaries of social media posts which I hope to make better use of. It will also allow me to devote more time to recording and practising, which need attention.

Things are in the works so there will be content, which I look forward to sharing with you next in October.

Until then, be safe and well!

Limited Edition

This is a teaser, which I hope will end up meeting expectations.

When I was teaching, I noticed that often the most creative ideas occurred when there were limits imposed. This is not anything innovative on my part; perhaps I should have read more professional literature. This article from Fast Company goes into the subject in greater detail.

Still, that experience stuck with me, so I recently decided to test myself by imposing clear parameters to the writing of the next song: a common root note for all the chords and constrained writing for the lyrics (inspired by It’s still in development so no previews yet, but so far, it’s producing interesting results.


Live music is making a comeback, and I’m very glad that is happening for a lot of reasons. I hope musicians and audiences alike will continue to be safe. It’s tempting after months of being cooped up to want to celebrate, and adding alcohol into the mix could make some people forget themselves and the sanitary habits that have kept the pandemic relatively contained. Perhaps more than ever, it’s important to be cautious.

Until next time, be well!

Autoneurotic Channelization

I don’t have very good pitch control when it comes to singing. That’s all on me as I should spend more time exercising it. I did pay for the lessons after all, and might still be attending had my coach not moved out of town—good for her too as she has started her own studio and is engaged as well.

To make up for the most flagrant warbles, I have gone over to the dark side and started using what my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) calls Flex Pitch. When applied in moderation, pitch correction helps correct slight (ha!) variations from true pitch, but when applied more thickly, an exaggerated correction results in an effect made initially famous by Cher in her smash hit Believe, and heard ad nauseam in modern tunes ever since, the infamous auto-tune.

I’ve also had a hankering to haul out my underused Danelectro 12-string electric (shown at right) and write something old school riffy.

Why not put both together? Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Add to that the ever-present phenomenon of someone ignoring a conversation when “lost in a good phone”—or how some audience less-than-attentive audience members behave—and you have the foundation of this latest original. This version for now is limited by me on all instruments, except drums, which are programmed on Logic. I’m hoping to update once the boys in the band can apply their magic. Hope you like it.

Auto-Tune Me Out ©2020 R. Pelletier/Feelix & the Cats

Until next time, be safe and well!

More Goodness

Just a short one this week, as I spent most of the day dealing with an appliance malfunction.

The Stir It Up Someday compilation is getting good reactions. Gary17 who puts out the Toronto Moon guide to live music included a nice writeup in today’s edition.

I’ve gone back and listened to the album again and continue to be impressed with the quality of this project, especially considering the challenges of working remotely in many cases.


And speaking of remote projects, here is one covering acoustically U2‘s With Or Without You. The bassist worked with me as a music teacher at a school for a year. She impressed everyone with her creativity and organization, and the kids loved her!

Until next time, be safe and be well!

Stir It Up Someday

At some point during the pandemic, the idea came about to compile a bunch of COVIDish songs by the Relish Sunday night open mike, well known in Toronto musical circles as Stir It Up Sunday, hosted by David Macmichael and Paul Brennan.

No photo description available.
Stir It Up Someday is available on Bandcamp
Producer – David Macmichael 
Artwork and Production- Shorty Brybry 
Mastering and Production – Ben Wood 
Executive Director – Dan Boggs 

Here is the story as told in the liner notes:

This album is dedicated in loving memory of Steven David Morrison. 

Stirred. Not Shaken. 

Their single mingled voice emphatically proclaimed “Please join us next week when we will do something similar…yet somehow…completely… different!” 

Cohosts Macmichael and Brennan’s signature sign-off capped February’s final Stir It Up Sunday same as all five hundred and something antecedent Sundays. Then came COVID. 

Beauty blooms from the gloomy darkening of East Toronto’s premiere long running weekly open stage. For ten years Stir It Up Sunday at Relish Bar and Grill is where some of the city’s most creative songwriters and musicians gather weekly to sing, play, dine and drink.

Listen as this eclectic collective of artists comes together to create the wonderful Stir It Up Someday. The show that will not be shaken.

The playlist is impressive! I am humbled to be in such amazing company: (the late) Steven David Morrison, Dan Boggs, Jace Traz, Julian Taylor Band, Super Not OK, Mauve Grove, Arch Rockefeller, Mudlust and the Short Walk, Timothy Sheldon, Felix and the Cats, brilliantfish, Paul Brennan, Tom Rich, Sandra Bouza, Die Geschichten von Bargrave Willianhurst, Sal Indigo, Tyler Ellis and Mark Thackway, Ben Wood, Mr Kyle, Michael Cuddy, Liniaro & JP, Dean McKinnon, GardenOf, David Macmichael, Fraz Milne, Chris Scian, Bryan van Dusen and Johnny Ness.

I want to thank everyone involved in this project. For me, it’s especially momentous as it’s my first real song release. Particularly special thanks go out to Dan Boggs and Sal Indigo for having the Cats, Neil, Chris and I, “bigify” your songs. I learned a lot, and still have long way to go to make my recordings sound really pro, but I’m trying! Finally, a huge thanks to Joanne Clayton of Relish for the crucible!

Be safe and be well!

Hidden Gems

I have in the past mentioned my occasional visits to Rivière-du-Loup, Québec, and the thriving music community there. The person who initially made this happen is Keven Lemieux, whom I have met almost every time I visited the town. What I haven’t talked enough sufficiently is that Keven is a remarkable and super versatile musician. Please take a moment to check out some samples here.

I particularly like this one done in hommage to Les Paul. Wow!


A few posts back, I posted a video of a local group remotely performing Under Pressure. Not to be outdone, Toronto’s own Tristan Avakian, a very sought-after guitarist—Ultimate Queen Celebration, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil (Quidam), and many broadway shows, plus as a songwriter/performer under the name As Waters—knocks it out of the park with UQC’s version of the same. Just listen with your eyes closed for a minute…

That’s it for this week, be well!

Baritone Loan

Huge thanks to Salabama for the loan of this!

Not everything with six strings is a standard guitar. One of the lesser-heard variations is the baritone guitar. Although the strings are tuned the same relative to each other, the overall pitch is a fourth lower, making the lowest string a B instead of an E. The neck is also longer.

Why would anyone want this?

Well it’s the tone in the baritone. There is a particularly unique resonance with this guitar that lends itself particularly well to single twangy notes, often heard in surf music and spaghetti westerns. Some of the best examples are Diane Eddy’s Peter Gunn and the B52sRock Lobster. Other examples can be found here.

I’m hoping to incorporate this guitar into at least one of my songs, but we’ll see how that goes. Thanks to Sal for the loan!

Be safe and be well!

signature

Compromise – Slight Return

Back in 2016, those alcyon days, I posted about a song written even earlier, and the only original done with a cover band at the time.

Although I have performed it a few times with the Cats, I never felt it lived up to its potential, and have tried to alter it to see if that would give it the spark I was looking for.

Still working on that, but just for fun, here is the iteration I posted in 2016, plus two others: one redone as a blues shuffle, and the other most recently mostly to accommodate a key change, a hook, and more interesting chord changes.

Compromise – Earlier demo
Compromise – Blues Shuffle
Compromise – Latest

Let me know what you think if so inclined…

Be safe and be well!

signature