On any given Christmas, one can be certain there will be at least three garanteed items to eat: turkey, tarte au sucre (French-Canadian sugar pie) and cookies, the latter from which springs the theme of this final post of 2017.

It has been a year of big changes, particularly as I retired from the day job and could now devote myself more to music. Although the Cats have not played as often as I’d like, I have personally never been busier, with vocal lessons (I hope it shows!), recording (more on that later) and the Songwriters’ Circle, all of which are progressing in my view at least as well as I’d hoped.

So, why cookies? As it turns out, my family decided that we would do a Secret Santa style gift exchange to keep costs in line and take some of the stress out of gift buying. Youngest daughter Betsy chose to make her gift, and applied the skills she has acquired over years in the baking business, and particularly her nearly 18 months at Biscuiteers in London UK, where she worked as a bespoke icer (yup, that’s a real job). She made from scratch the musically-themed (+ Batman and sports) cookies pictured below for her sister Lucy‘s (another talented artist mentioned in a previous post) partner Omar, frontman for the Lonely Hearts/Alright Alright, also covered in a previous post. In fact, artistic talent seems to run well in the family as #1 son Sam is an accomplished installation artist, illustrator, and doing a great job picking up the ukulele. Mrs. Félix & the Cats is no slouch either.


Other Treats

IMG_0033I treated myself to a new piece of gear this Christmas. As I’ve been getting into recording more and more, some of the limitations of working in a virtual interface have become evident, and the need for a tactile interface more greatly felt. The PreSonus Faderport (bottom right) does a nice job of helping automate track levels, and I look forward to putting it through its paces working on the recordings good pal Sal Indigo made at ManCave Studio over the last few weeks. I hope to post some of these, once they’re done and I have Sal’s go ahead. Maybe a few other friends will take me up on the offer to record here as well, so I can continue to learn about the process. Call me!

What’s Next?

The ABC Songwriter’s Circle is on a break until January 16, so this is a good chance to catch other artists perform, perhaps recruiting future guests for the songcircle while I’m at it. There is a show at the Linsmore this Tuesday featuring Amber & Alex (Durette and Matthew, respectively; she co-host of the Legends Thursday Night Open Mic, and he a regular, plus special guest at a previous songcircle), Houndbelly (the duo version—Susanne Maziarz and Steve Koller—of 3 Minutes to Forever, one of my fave bands), and first-timers at the Linsmore The Mysterlees.

Friday evening, I hope to catch former co-worker and talent Leanna Yamada at Relish for her birthday show at 7:30. It will be great to catch up as it’s been a while. I hope to have Leanna guest at the ABC later in the new year; fingers crossed.

In conclusion, I’d like to wish you, dear reader, all the best for a Happy New Year! May it be healthy and satisfying in every way. They might even impeach Trump.

Be well!


The Cats Came Back

This week’s post will be brief, it is Christmas Eve after all and the elves need a hand.

IMG_2351Last night’s show at Relish was good fun, and a great privilege to play on what turned out to be the 6th anniversary of New Music Night. I want to thank family and friends who came out. It’s always heartening to see friendly faces in the audience. As a side note, the show provided worthwhile enlightenment re: knowing one’s limits. I’m not sure if this will stop me for always trying to do more each time I play, but it may inform me in how far to push. Overall, I’m still quite happy with the results; the band—NeMo on bass and brand-new-to-the-job Kimio Oki on drums—did a masterful job working off the charts. We got to hear NeMo’s brand new BSX Allegro upright bass too, so bonus!

Thanks in particular to Relish’s Joanne Clayton, for her unwavering support of live music, which has brought about such a positive change in my life, and for which I am forever grateful. Thanks as well to the staff who are always happy to hear the music and make us feel so welcome. I hope we can do it again in 2018!

So to veryone who reads this post, Merry Christmas and all the best for the Holidays!

Be well!


P.S. Please note that the ABC Songwriter’s Circle is on a break, and back on January 16, 2018!

Added Value


Left to right: me, Sal Indigo, Linda Lavender, Mark Martyre and special guest Darrin Baldwin.

The ABC Songwriters’ Circle is plugging along, and about to go into its 9th week. Whodathunkit!

First, I have to thank Sal Indigo for stepping up at the last minute as originally scheduled guest Jordan Paul was unavoidably called away. He’s been invited back in the new year after he returns from LA.

It was pleasure to play with all the guests, as they kindly let me contribute various noodlings and some bass. It was particularly enjoyable on Linda Lavender’s songs, which I had woodshedded the previous afternoon and which allowed me to unleash my inner wannabe country picker. Turns out that Linda and I have more than musical connections: both our daughters are Rosedale Heights grads and good friends. Whodathunkit!

Now, for those keeping count, you’ll notice that we have one extra person in the picture above. This is a good thing, as it turns out, and not a photo bomb. Mark Martyre pleasantly surprised us not just by the captured intensity and lyricism of his songs but by inviting his accompanist, songwriter-in-his-own-right, and hopefully future guest Darrin Baldwin to the stage on piano. I looked up Darrin and found this bio:

A native of Grosse Isle, MB., Darrin currently resides in Toronto, ON., where he is in the works of a debut EP by the title, “Good Grief, Good Grieving.” This release will feature his piano heavy arrangements and clever lyrics, and surround experiences of grief through a perspective that is at times hopeless, and others hopeful. An honest performer, he has been highlighted for a rich musicality and energetic live show. Darrin can be seen at the 40th anniversary of the Summerfolk Crafts and Music Festival, alongside several other talented songwriters as part of the Youth Discoveries showcase.

The least I could do is give him this plug—never even got the chance to buy him a beer. Thank you!

IMG_0006The previous time this happened, Gary Edward Allen invited Alex Matthew to sit in. I saw Alex along with chanteuse Jaime Redford at Gary’s and Amber Durette‘s Legends open mic, where the pair were feature. It finally clicked in place that I had seen then previously at the Linsmore at one of their Indie Tuesdays. They performed beautifully rearranged standards that took full advantage of Jaime’s excellent control and seemingly effortless range.

After Legends, I caught the last set of one of Toronto’s most talent-laden uprooted-roots bands, Cadre, at the Linsmore. A small (that is SO wrong) but enthusiastic crowd cheered them on, and were wowed by the solid rhythm section with the solid Jeff Dunk on bass and Joey Gaitanis on rhythm guitar, backup vocals and pedalboard-that-ate-New-York, Rob Greenway (remember him?) on drums, back up vocals and sidebar, Cam MacInnes on superb slide/lead, and fronted by the phlegmatic but always entertaining Bill Colgate. These guys perform regularly at clubs around town. You owe it to yourselves to check them out.


ABC Songcircle #9

This Tuesday’s show is the last songcircle of 2017. Please come out to celebrate the Holiday Season with my guests Paula Keast, Lilly Mason and David Israelson.

Guest photos FB#9

So, you WILL be there, right?

Until then, be well!


Game of Throne

My good friend Sal Indigo just lent me a lovely set of old Ludwig drums, which has the distinction of reportedly being owned by one of the first if not the original drummer for the Downchild Blues Band, whose bassist, Gary Kendall, was mentioned in a previous blog. These now sit in ManCave Studio, waiting to be mic’d up for recording.

Who will next sit on this throne?

This of course got me to thinking about the Cats. These days, performances have been mostly at open mics, where I sit in with the house band, at the Songwriters’ Circle, at solo performances, or duo shows with NeMo. Partly, this is because smaller clubs don’t always pay enough to have the full FatC band out, so I haven’t pursued gigs vigorously. I’ve had the great pleasure and honour to work with top-notch, pro drummers with FatC. But pros are often busy and, small clubs being what they are, time has come to turn the page.

Now I’m looking for a permanently partnered drummer for the group. I’m hoping to find one who understands the financial limitations of small club gigs, has the technical chops to quickly learn and play my stuff, and wants to contribute creatively. That’s a tall order, but I’m happy to wait to find the right fit. Maybe it’s you. Let me know.

Out and About

Sam Taylor and the East End Love. Left to right> Maia Van Raes, David Macmichael, Jace Traz and Sam Taylor.

Other than the Tuesday Songcircle, I only went out once this past week – on Friday, but made it a combo night. Sam Taylor and the EEL were performing to a full house at Relish and rocking out the place, as they consistently do. Jace Traz was particularly sharp on drums that evening. Must be the shirt and tie.

That was followed by a late jaunt to the Salty Dog for the second week in a row Friday Night Blues Jam with Mike Sedgewick, and playing some of my bluesier/rock ‘n’ rollier tunes with Sean Macauley on harmonica, special guest Jonny Wong on sax, Guenther Kapelle on bass and the legendary Kid Carson on drums. The Dano Pro I used last week got a bit fussy on me this time, but I muddled through, thanks to extraordinary playing by the rest of the group.

ABC Songcircle #7

DSC01827 2
Left to right: me, John Mahler, Arch Rockefeller and Michael Cuddy.

Number 7 at the Amsterdam did not honestly have a huge turnout, but again came through on the originality of the songs and the great discussion on the writing craft that ensued. There was a section of the show that focused on when and how we have “jazzier” chords in our songs (these guys do it far better than me), and another insightful chat about writing about real people without hurting or alienating them. Thanks to John Mahler, Arch Rockefeller and Michael Cuddy—finally got to play along with Sink or Swim, yay!—for being such great guests, and to the ever neatly organized Eileen Boxall for the photo because I forgot to take the usual group shot, doh!

ABC Songcircle #8

This Tuesday, I have the great pleasure of having Linda Lavender, Jordan Paul and Mark Martyre as my guests. Wow! For their full bios, click here!

#8 photos

Until Tuesday or the next time you read this blog, be well!



2017_12_03_11_49_12.pdf000While cleaning up the house the other day, Mrs. Félix & the Cats found this little gem of me in my hipster phase MANY years ago. I was struck when seeing it just how much of #1 son was there (although still only a gleam in my eye at the time), and how much less of me there was too (probably 25 lbs at least). Context being everything, I also wondered whether the toilet was a symbolic in any way. I’ll let you be the judge.

My son asked me whether I remembered this photo being taken, and I had to admit I had nada, so I am always grateful to the missus for documenting like she does so well. It did remind me though of one of my earliest recordings after discovering the joys of Garageband. I think this one dates back to 2008 + or -, so the production is a bit more shrill than I would like, and I’ve tried to quickly remaster it to smooth it out. Anyway, the lyrics and arrangements have evolved a bit since then, but the core of the song is unchanged. Check on the first verse particularly for the thematic thread.

Old Man Blues ©2008 R. Pelletier/Félix & the Cats

Verse 1
I can’t remember clearly like I used to do
The face might look familiar but I can’t tell who
You are or what you did or when it was
I just can’t recall it and it’s all because
I’m an old man, singing these old man blues.

Verse 2
I can’t hear as clearly as I used I used to do
I turn the TV up to level forty-two ninety-two
I used to hear a pin drop from a hundred feet
I’ll ask you to repeat that cause I didn’t catch it
I’m an old man, singing these old man blues.

I can’t stay out all night
I can’t stay awake
I can’t pick a fight
My bones might break
I can’t take a risk or make a big mistake
At my age
There’s just too much at stake.

Verse 3
I can’t hold my liquor like I used to do
I could drink a dozen, now I’m down to two
I’ve got a reputation as a drunk who’s cheap
If I have too many I just fall asleep
I’m an old man, singing these old man blues.

Verse 4
I can’t love my woman like I used to do
I used to go all night and in the morning too
Now if it happens, it just hurts my back
And I don’t want to risk another heart attack
I’m an old man, singing these old man blues.

Bridge (reprise)

More Out and About

IMG_0449Thursday night, I finally went up to the Silly Goose Pub, a cozy bar/restaurant on Victoria Park where Julie Long and Fergus Hambleton run an open mic every second Thursday. I had a chance to play a few songs with Hap Roderman sitting in on bass along with Julie and Fergus, and caught a few songs by David McLachlan. I’m happy to announce that both Julie and David will be guests at the songcircle in the new year. I then quickly transited down to Legends to settle some financial obligations and play a few more there. Busy night, but…

Friday was a two-for as well, catching a set of m.e. law at a packed Relish, settling more scores (the good kind), and down to the Salty Dog for another full-house Friday Night Blues Jam  hosted by the incomparable Mike Sedgewick. Many old and new friends were up that night, Sal Indigo, Loudon Sharp V (aka Trevor), Donna Flynn,  Sean Macauley and Tony Oldland. I decided to use my short-scale Dano Pro for my set and it did not disappoint, according to the many favourable comments I received afterwards.

ABC Songcircle #6

Back row, left to right: me, Gary Edward Allen, special guest on guitar Alex Matthew, and Tim Prueter. Front: Jody Ferrer.

Last Tuesday at the ABC Songwriters’ Circle offred up a wide variety of approaches and styles, yet a very cohesive flow, and generated I believe the most interesting discussion about our approaches to songwriting. It was so involved, that it continued throughout the break at our table even when not for the benefit of the audience. As you can see, smiles were easy and spontaneous, even with Jody hamming it up.

ABC Songcircle #7

At the ABC Songwriters’ Circle this week. For their bios, click here.

This coming Tuesday, I’m very pleased to have John Mahler, Arch Rockefeller and Michael Sheen Cuddy as guests. Expect some interesting chording and thoughtful lyrics.

I’m looking forward to having you all join us for this show. Until then, be well!