Fellow Travellers – Part 4

img_1815This week, I return to the theme of fellow musicians, whose path I have crossed, or, Camino-like, are on the journey like me. The first is Tim Cameron, aka T.C. Folkpunk.

I met Tim for the first time when he worked at a local guitar shop. He was always the person I preferred to see for good counsel and and even just to chat. During those visits, I discovered he was also a performer (a guy working at a music store that also played—what gives?) and started checking out his shows.

At first it puzzled me that a guy belting out songs strictly on an electrical guitar would not work with a band, but I was soon enlightened as I discovered that Tim was a rare breed of performers working in that mode, Billy Bragg perhaps the most well known internationally.

The format Tim plays in, like folk, allows the lyrics to shine through, and he is a master at witty, thoughtful, socially astute, and sometimes cutting compositions. And sometimes just fun and clever too. A favourite of mine is Here Crumbles the Bride, with it’s Dylanesque (Bob) jolting and absurdist imagery. Musically, his songs have a deceptively simple power pop feel, but if you know something about music, and watch and listen to the chord changes more closely, as I did last week when he played the Linsmore, one appreciates T.C. knows his craft.

mv5bnmq5zty2ytatn2rlmc00mdzllwe0ytetmjhizjyxyjbhogi2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqzmzyxmtu-_v1_uy268_cr120182268_al_Any guy who can include  kangaroos in the lyrics is okay with me.

Tim has also found another voice in the movies, composing songs AND playing a major character in Love in the Sixth, an independent musical comedy released in 2015 directed by Jude Klassen.


T.C. Folk punk’s latest collection is Hearsay is 20/20, available through his site or directly at Bandcamp, and is getting airplay not just here in Canada but around the world. Here is Tim talking about that and one featured song:

a3889224372_16Hearsay Is 20/20 has been doing really well, with airplay in Spain, Sweden, and of course Canada. I’m expecting to get some airplay in Columbia, New Zealand, USA and the UK within the next week or two as well.
I know everybody’s really busy, and trying to absorb a whole album can be a lot to ask these days, so I thought I’d send out a quick email that focuses on just one song. A measly two-minutes-and-three-seconds worth of tuneage.
The featured track in question is Sort Of Like Danielle. It started life as three separate song bits, all of which were in different keys. I tried lining the pieces up in the same key, but that meant that some parts were either to high or two low for me to sing. So I thought stuff it, the song can just modulate all over the place, because that will be cheaper than singing lessons… As a result, “Danielle” is in the key of E.
And then F#.
And then G for a bit.
And then back to E where the whole ride starts over again.
Anyway, you can give it a listen (and also buy it if you’re so inclined…) on Bandcamp right about HERE.
I was working on it around the time I dove into production on Love In The Sixth, so there are a lot of filmic illusions floating around in the lyrics (you can read those lyrics on the Bandcamp page too, by the way).
Two minutes and three seconds. You better get dancing or you might miss it!

Tim is probably the most original performer I know, and as you look through the back catalogue on his site, one of the most consistently dedicated to his art. Unique is a cliché, but in a while, it needs to be dusted off and correctly applied. With T.C. Folkpunk, it fits.

The flip side of that is the cover band, sometimes seen less favourably by “real musicians”—just Google it. This view is wrong-headed (I am using my nice words). I have spent the large part of his musical life performing covers, and still enjoy playing them. The fact that FatC doesn’t play any (something that is NOT carved in stone) is a choice I made for this specific band and comes with its own pluses (creative expression) and minuses (few people know the songs). For now, I enjoy the challenge of seeing with songs stick with the audience, as this helps develop my craft. That does not preclude playing them in another context, as I did last summer.

With that in mind, last night, the missus and I went out late to the entertainment district at a club called UG3 to meet with #1 daughter, and see her boyfriend’s band The Lonely Hearts.

First of all, let me say we were by far the oldest people in the place. The place was packed with young, healthy, and progressively drunker 20-somethings, many more than FatC have ever had in any audience, and all were having a great time. When the band came on at about 11:30, they immediately packed the dance floor with mostly vintage covers of rock and Motown classics, delivered with a solid raw edge sound and energy that unified the set. All the kids in the audience knew the words too. Rock is NOT dead.


Photo from http://www.thelonelyhearts.ca/contact/

I really like these guys. They play good solid stuff, their audience loves it, and obviously so do they. The band is fronted by Omar Saab on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Omar has great range and expression, and a healthy growl, reminiscent of Bryan Adams at times. Dave McCamus complements by singing solid backups, and playing biting lead on what looked like either a rare or modified version of a Gibson Melody Maker. Graeme Moffatt is a delight on bass, freely running Entwistle-style through the chordal changes with a melodic style steeped in the rock style of the 60s and 70s.  Regular drummer Curtis Courtemanche unavailable for last night’s show, but luckily Murph Stone sat in. He clearly knew the songs and delivered them well, and looked like he was enjoying himself too.



Omar tells me that they are at the Cameron House this Friday, February 3. I am planning to be there and I hope some of you can join me.

Until then, be well!


Happy Medium

In these times of polarized opinions, the idea of compromise seems out of step with the current political mood. As I was going over the back catalogue, I listened to one of my older songs that railed against the idea of bland middle-of-the-roadness.

What was I thinking?

Given the real risks of unfettered power in the (tiny) hands of an egomaniacal sociopath and his sycophants, the idea of boring mediocrity now seems quaintly appealing. I guess the moral is be careful what you wish for.

Regardless, for your analysis and listening pleasure, here is Happy Medium.

Happy Medium ©2013 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

Verse 1
Is it a race to the bottom
Or a float to the top?
As long as I keep going
Why should it ever stop
I keep thinking in the box
Matching up my socks
Synchronize my clocks
Diversify my stocks

I should not complain about the tedium
If I’ve settled for the happy medium

Verse 2
I like it in the middle
And that’s where I stay
It’s not that I don’t care
But not enough to sway
I keep sitting on the fence
Avoiding all suspense
Never cause offence
It’s just common sense

I should not complain about the tedium
If I’ve settled for the happy medium


Verse 3
If I start a revolution
I’ll keep it in my mind
I know it’s no solution
I’m not the fighting kind
I won’t take a stand
Sitting on my hands
My head in the sand
I’d rather keep it bland

I should not complain about the tedium
If I’ve settled for the happy medium
I should not complain about the tedium
If I’ve settled for the happy medium

That said, be well, really!


Old Dogs, New Tricks

Just a short one this week…

attachment-1A big thanks to fans, friends and family (Venn diagram at will) that came out to the Salty Dog last night. It was our first time there, and we hope not the last. The band loved the room. We were well treated (thanks Danny!) and played to our appreciative 3F base and an attentive local audience, the latter having never heard us before, or the songs since we are cover-free. We will let you know as soon as we book our next show there.

In the meantime, here is a taste of the evening: a live (meaning the odd off-note) rendition of Difficult People. The psychedelic drone for the intro was done using an E Bow through a looping pedal and assorted delay pedals.

Until next week, be well!



This past Thursday, I trekked out to Port Credit’s Door FiftyFive club (thank you GO Transit!) to catch a few sets by The Arsenals. I had personal reasons to finally catch this group play, which will become obvious when I talk about the band members. Regardless, I was not disappointed, in fact, this is one of the most fun bands I have heard, and seen, in a long time.

The first set opened with a few warmup instrumentals that featured guitarist (and Juno nominated recording engineer) Shane “Shaky J” Forrest, but as soon as everyone had arrived, the show began in earnest. The band takes you through quick and entertaining evolution of Caribbean music — Calypso, Mento, Rocksteady, Ska, and Reggae — explaining and energetically demonstrating each of these forms. Still, don’t believe the band is locked in to one genre, as the surprise at the end of set one demonstrates. I won’t spoil it for you.

Sonia and Dizzy working it!

I could not stay for the full second set, regretfully having to catch the last train back, but the band came back even more energized, and featured in particular multi-Juno and Canadian Reggae Music Awards winner Sonia Collymore on vocals. That alone would make the band worth catching.

Up front as well is Dizzy Minott, on trombone, vocals and unquestionably the band leader. Dizzy drives the whole group forward, with energy and humour but also a deep commitment to his craft and a love of what he does. On dual Yamaha keyboards, journeyman player and producer Dwight “Duke” Dawes tastefully incorporated the Bang, fills and bubble plus backup vocals without things sounding crowded and overly busy.

Of course, it would not be Ska (or Reggae) without a solid rhythm section. Ian Green on drums has an unusual drumming style (left hand for hi-hat, right for snare on a standard right-handed kit), but that doesn’t seem to do anything but improve his incredible timing and amazing fills.

NeMo on bass, yes FatC’s own, is solid and looks like he loves every second of the show. I cannot for a moment begrudge him playing with “that other” band.

For sure, The Arsenals would be my first choice entertainment for any party I would be having.

Left to right: Sonia, Duke, Dizzy, Ian, NeMo and Shaky J. Apologies for the crappy Photoshopping.

Here is a clip from a show a while back at the Orbit Room.

Félix and the Cats are not a Ska band, but there is one song in the repertoire that comes close to the feel, so I present a ROUGH demo to you as an homage to musicians who do it much better! No real drummer was harmed in the making of it — only Garageband loops. But you can be the best judge of that if you come to see us this Saturday at the Salty Dog, 1980 Queen Street East, Toronto. The show starts at 9 PM.

Cheaper Than Golf ©2015 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

Verse 1
I have a confession
A problem I must own
It is an obsession
That I can’t leave alone
This need for expression
From which I can’t abstain
It begs for the question
Am I really sane

Can’t let it go
It’s got a hold on me
Can’t let it go
It will not let me be
Can’t get enough
It’s all I’m looking for
Can’t get enough
I always crave for more

Verse 2
All my time and energy
In pursuit of illusion
I neglect responsibilities
Is it a delusion?


Solo over verse


Verse 3
“Cheaper than golf” I say
That is my rational
Although it drives me crazy
It’s good for my morale

Chorus Out

Until next week, be well!




Geek Out!

Happy New Year, readers! Very happy to see the back end of 2016. Let’s hope for better events in 2017, US politics notwithstanding.

Version 2
First some great gig-oriented news: the new year is looking good with shows lined up perhaps every month until April, with appearances at the Salty Dog, Saturday, January 14, the Amsterdam Bicycle Club, Saturday February 11, the Linsmore, Tuesday, March 14, and Relish, Saturday April 22. Details are in the sidebar. My new 2017 poster is on the left. The Salty Dog is a new venue for FatC, and we want to make a good impression, so we hope a lot of you can be there. The show starts at 9 — really!

Promo done, here is this week’s topic: pedal boards. Non-musicians are free to tune out at this point…

I wrote a bit on gear quite a while back, and even included a shot of some of the equipment in the ManCave. Included was the PedalBoard Jr, on the left below. Over the last week, I put in some upgrades, and it now looks like the version on the right.

I really have liked the smaller of my pedalboards for portability and a minimal stage footprint. I have recently started using a looper for live shows (hopefully tastefully), and added a second delay, so I had to figure a way to incorporate these without taking up more surface space. I also wanted to change the orientation of the tremolo pedal (the small black one in the top row (version 1).

After a few measurements, it became obvious that the only way to do this was to add a second level. I’d also have to swap the Boss tuner for the smaller TC Electronics that I use in PedalBoard Sr. After a trip to Canadian Tire and Lowe’s, all it took was a bit of sawing (a cheap plastic cutting board), some drilling, and paint to prep the “second floor” platform.

Side view
Back view

After extending the cabling for the 9 volt power supply, and repositioning some of the Velcro fastener, the whole thing was re-assembled. The great byproduct of two levels is that there is a space for cabling and jacks in the gap between the levels.

So here is another look at the finished product. I’ve had it out for a jam last week and it performed pretty well..just working on getting all the levels balanced.

Top row (left to right): TC Electronics Polytune, Tech21 Boost DLA (1st generation), Mooer Trelicopter tremolo, Mooer Yellow Comp compressor. Bottom row: TC electronics Ditto looper, Tech21 Boost DLA (2nd generation) with Tap Temp, T-Rex Dr. Swamp dual overdrive, AMT WH-1 wah pedal

Next week, back to the songs. There’s a new one freshly written and it may even end up recorded for that blog. Until then, be well!