Music City?

Firstly, I toot my own horn a bit and declare this is the first year anniversary of this blog. Thank you to the small but growing number who follow it.

cn-drumsWhile I take some pride in that fact, it is small potatoes compared to the day-in-day-out commitment of professional journalists like my friend and former Nerve bandmate David Israelson, and Toronto Star pop critic Ben Rayner. The latter wrote a very interesting piece earlier this month entitled Is Toronto facing a live-music crisis? that highlights concerns with recent club closures and a commitment the Mayor John Tory has made to making Toronto a “music city”.

I wrote a blog a while back that outlines my concerns and opinions about the music scene and its challenges. A bit ranty, I know. The gist though is that the club-going public, particularly for the small venues where emerging artists first start performing, is not very inclined to pay cover charges, or even drop a few dollars in the tip jar for the artists. Changing that mindset against an acceptance of “free music” on demand is probably not achievable in the short term. Given the costs of operating a club, that leaves the performers with little or nothing, or less, in their pockets. Many musicians pay to play in this city, just ask around.

I am glad for the note of optimism in Mr. Rayner’s article, and I’m hopeful the mayor will indeed communicate with Austin and other cities for “best practices”, but more importantly execute on concrete solutions. A broad declaration of wanting Toronto to be a “music city” without support is wishful thinking.

Perhaps the city could start by providing a form of tax credit to clubs for payments to live performers, to encourage them to compensate the bands something more than a feeble honorarium or a free beer. This would encourage support for live music at the grassroots. I hope the city avoids supporting specific clubs exclusively, despite their storied past, as the impact of such measures would be narrow. The other action the city could take is a campaign to elevate the status of all musicians in the city, from buskers on up, as their active presence is part of what makes this city one of the best in the world.

To all my musician friends who follow this blog, I encourage you to read the Star article, and respond to the mayor’s invitation therein.

“I think he may have an idea or two,” said Tory. “I’m all ears.”

Until next week, and to more in year two, be well.


Seventh Heaven

This week’s Sunday night Stir It Up at Relish was a momentous occasion for a lot of reasons. I have written a post specifically about Relish Bar and Grill before, but good things are worth repeating.

Last night was the 7th anniversary of SIUS. Originally hosted by Paul Brennan (Félix and the Cats’ fave drummer), and Phil Jacobs for two years, the latter replaced by Danger Bees composer and front man David Macmichael, Stir It Up Sundays is Toronto’s best original music open mic, both in terms of quality and broad musical styles. It is definitely one of my happy places. The success of Stir It Up is due to these guys’ guidance, encouragement towards artists still discovering themselves, and a subtle but effective curation of the talent that performs there every Sunday. Of course, none of this would even be possible without the vision and support of Relish’s owner and chef Joanne Clayton. Thanks, Joanne!

Beyond the milestone celebration, the evening was special in other ways too. First, my good friend Sal (Salamander) Borg and SIUS regular introduced his new Trump song, which you can view a segment of below.

Another Robert (Hyde this time) had his first taste of performing at SIUS after years of prodding on my part and did a great job. I hope he will make it back soon.

Regulars Michael Cuddy (soon to be recording at Tim Bovaconti‘s studio with the above mentioned Paul and David), Jace, Ryan, Steve and more performed, and I had a set in there somewhere.

The biggest surprise though came for seeing a new (for me) band called Mauve Grove perform. As the band started into their first song, I kept staring at the guitar player (Babs) thinking he looked awfully familiar. I suddenly realized this was a kid I had taught when he was in my grade 5 class. Even back then as an 11 year-old, he was showing promise on guitar, all part of a class project we had going on. I cannot seem to locate that recording at this time, but Babs may choose to share it, as he told me he still has a copy. If I find it, I will update this post. In the meantime, here is something much more current from Mauve Grove.

Until next week, be well!


Less Is More?

keep-calmLast night’s show at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club was something new for FatC despite having played there a number of times. The twist came when drummer Greg Anzelc had to call in sick unexpectedly, and despite half a dozen potential other drummers being called, no one was available. The choice was simple: cancel or carry on. I chose the latter and NeMo was happily on board to try something new. We would be a Félix and the Cats of 2 (kind of a Circle of Venn thing).

So I left the electric guitars behind, and dusted off my Simon and Patrick S&P6 Cedar acoustic for the show.  NeMo brought his fretless bass. We weren’t really sure how the songs would sound redone in acoustic context, but we figured inspiration would come to us.

Well, in the end, it turned out just fine. The crowd was great, if a bit skittish about depositing to the band tip box, but NeMo and I left happy in the knowledge we have a new way to perform. Expect more of this in the next while.

Earlier in the week, I attended the Indy Tuesday show at the Linsmore. This is now my favourite venue for seeing new talent. Every show is a surprise, and this past show was no exception. The standout for me was the very original (despite a cover of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer3 Minutes to Forever (3MF for their fans).

Image courtesy of 3MF’s Facebook page.

3MF features Stevie Joe Axolotl on guitar, vocals and interesting head ornaments, the AntiChris on bass and vocals, Susanimal on keys and vocals, and Loaf on drums. Their sound is rock with a generous helping of quirkiness either lyrically (wish I hear them better at the time) and musical constructions that aren’t afraid to deviate from the norm. They play with good energy and fun, and are now on my list to see again when an opportunity presents itself.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, I include below a video recording of them performing Late Night Visitor.

Finally, and as promised last week, the actual recording of I Love Me. 

I Love Me ©2017 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

Until next week, be well!



Version 2The past week and the next are likely busy, due to report card season at work, and an upcoming show at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club on February 11. It should be a good one! The show starts between 10:30 and 11:00, as soon as diners are finished at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

So for this week, here are the lyrics only of the latest song, which is still in the midst of being tracked. Check back next week for completion. I’ll try to have it ready for the ABC.

It’s inspired by the current trend of non-stop selfies that are a sign of the times. However I did not want to infuse it with meanness; there’s more than enough of that around. So I though I’d write it in first-person and spin it to try to understand why people would post pictures of themselves so consistently. I don’t really know. It’s creative licence.

No offense is intended.


I Love Me ©2017 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

I love me
I love me totally
So unabashedly
I love me

I love me
So self-promotingly
I love me

Verse 1
A selfie in the broad daylight
A selfie in a moonlit night
A selfie when I exercise
A selfie when I’m in disguise
A selfie when I’m looking cute
A selfie in my birthday suit
A picture tells a different story
When it’s taken in the lavatory


Verse 2
A selfie when I make a face
A selfie in my favourite place
A selfie with my favourite hat
A selfie playing with my cat
A selfie driving in my car
A selfie playing my guitar
Must share my fascination
Or is it overcompensation

A daily dose of narcissism
Wards off depression and cynicism
Better loving myself
Than hating everyone else.
Everybody look at me everybody
No, not you

Verse 3
A selfie with my mom and dad
A selfie of me feeling sad
A selfie with some long-gone friend
A selfie when at my wit’s end
A selfie often on my own
A selfie when my love has flown
A picture says it loud and clear
I will survive, and persevere

Final Chorus
I love me
I love me totally
So unashamedly
I love me

I love me
So self-supportingly
Maybe self-healingly
I love me

Until next week, be well! You can post a selfie to show it.