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!

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A Musician Walks Into A Bar…

…and asks, ” What year is this?”

This post is a bit late as I was waiting for a topic to manifest itself. It took a few extra days but one has appeared.

Thanks to Joanne Clayton, proprietor, curator and chef at Relish Bar and Grill for this. She recently posted a sobering status update on Facebook.

There is no doubt that almost everyone has struggled though the pandemic, but I think we need to take a moment to reflect on the plight of small business owners, particularly those in the hospitality industry. Consider as well that many of these businesses help the musical community by employing artists who need that work to supplement what they earn from shows and are now laid off and unable to perform live (at least there is CERB and EI). I could go on about the challenges and misconceptions of running a restaurant AND paying musicians even at the best of times, but I’ll save that for another rant post.

Throw into the mix how a club like Relish that has a core mission of supporting live music, and you quickly understand that we ALL lose if it, and places like it don’t make it through the pandemic.

Relish deserves our support. It’s that simple. https://www.relishbarandgrill.com

East York

East York (former borough), Ontario (Canada)

A few weeks ago, good friend Salabama got in touch to see if we could produce a “full band version” of a song he had written for and performed at East York’s (a former borough of Toronto pre-amalgamation for any of you non-local readers) Canada Day celebration. However, the pandemic put a wrench in the works, so the organizing committee changed the plan to having a celebratory website in order to maintain social distancing. A key component of this would be a recording of We Love East York.

Initially, Sal sent me an iPhone recording of live captured vocals and acoustic guitar. NeMo, Chris and I were able to add our parts after the fact, to the point where the recording was sufficiently fleshed out to submit to the committee for approval, pending a better recording.

Once we got the go ahead, recording the song while staying apart posed some challenges, but since many of those had been worked out on other demos with the guys, it went smoothly. Here was the process.

First came the basic guitar track with a click track/software drum track just to maintain a steady rhythm. This was sent to Chris and NeMo who recorded at home and added their parts (replacing the provisional virtual drums). These files were Dropboxed to me and flowed into the master mix.

To re-record Sal, the bed tracks were bounced and transferred to Garageband and copied to an iPad mini so I could go to Sal’s and do a remote recording. I set up on his back deck and ran the mic inside to record vocals, then changed the setup to mic his amp for the slide guitar overdub (geek note: Sennheiser MK4 for vox, Sennheiser e609 for amp, iRig Pro interface).

The chants and handclaps were dubbed after the fact and duplicated to create the “crowd” effect – thanks NeMo and Bender family! Could not have done this without you. Also many thanks to Sal for trusting me with this!

This project was a lot of fun to complete, and meaningful too. It’s always a treat to work with Sal, and East York, while not my community by only a few blocks, was where I first started working in education before the TDSB was formed. Below is the video produced for the song, and here is the link to East York’s Celebration site.

Happy Canada Day!

Be safe and well!

By the Numbers

Do The Numbers Stack Up For Property Pensions? - iExpats

Again the days have drifted by and I lost track of “post day”, four days ago.

Still, better late than never.

This week’s post will be about one of the new songs written during the pandemic, although not specifically inspired by it.

Rather, the idea of things happening due to odds, the hope to beat them, and simply the concept of numbers themselves have fuelled this latest song.

Layered over that, I set myself the challenge of working in different time signatures (again numbers). This one has three – 7/4, 4/4 and 6/8. Huge thanks to NeMo and Chris for bass and drums, remarkably done remotely!

The title comes from the classroom game played many times when I taught.

I hope you enjoy SevenUp ©2020 R. Pelletier/Félix&theCats

Be safe and be well!

Fellow Travellers – Part 9

This week, I’m featuring another fellow musician who has recently posted some interesting remote collaborations on social media.

I got to know about Joanne Park from her appearances at Relish and through her posts. Not only is she a great and fearless bassist (playing and singing Yes songs unaccompanied save for her on bass is remarkable), she also plays a great guitar, particularly in the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed style.

The video below is Supertramp’s Logical Song, and besides Joanne, includes Joan Marshall on keyboard and Kristen Prince on saxophone. Worth a listen!

They had me at castanets!

Be safe and be well!