In Praise of Glyn Johns

IMG_0112 2
Yup, only 3 microphones. Works just fine!

As mentioned in other posts, I have been gradually building up the capacity here at ManCave Studio to do some full-on recording, which in simple terms means all the instruments, including drums. With limited equipment, this is still a possibility, and I spent the afternoon doing just that, hence the one-day delay for this post. Credit for making simple yet good-sounding recording of drums goes to a British audio engineer by the name of Glyn Johns. His credentials are mind-boggling; see below from Wikipedia.

Johns produced and/or engineered with such artists as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Hallyday, the Band, Eric Clapton, the Clash, the Beatles (Get Back Sessions), Ryan Adams, the Steve Miller Band, Small Faces, Spooky Tooth, the Easybeats, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Blue Öyster Cult, Emmylou Harris, Midnight Oil, New Model Army, Belly, Joe Satriani, Ronnie Lane, Rod Stewart with Faces, John Hiatt, Joan Armatrading, Buckacre, Gallagher and Lyle, Georgie Fame, Family, Helen Watson, Fairport Convention, Humble Pie, and many others.[3]

So, yeah, he knows what he’s doing! The upshot is that Johns came up with an ingenious way to record drums with only three microphones – one in the bass (kick) drum, one overhead, and one near the floor tom. The last two have to be at the same distance from the snare for this to work right. A bit and left or right panning makes the whole thing sound larger than life. The course I took at Centennial over the last year or so offered the chance to mic up drums, but we went “new school” with 13 microphones! Going down to 3, in a tiny space like ManCave Studio would be a challenge.

The session went well as the Trevor (bass) and Kevin (drums) were well prepared, so only a few takes were required. Because there is no separate control room in my space, we were hearing a lot of live sound leak through the headphones, so initially, I dreaded what might come out of it, but as soon as we heard the first playback, it was clearly obvious why this recording method was, and still is, very popular. Thanks, Glyn Johns!

Prepping for Politics

IMG_0113Since I have an upcoming meeting with our local councillor, I have been reading through the Toronto Music Advisory Council’s meeting minutes and associated documents, and making side notes. At about the halfway point, it seems very clear that their hearts are in the right place, but it doesn’t change the reason for the meeting, which is to point out a few gaps and talk more about live music at the grassroots level. More as things develop…

Upcoming Shows

This Tuesday, the ABC Songwriters’ Circle is back once more for show #12. I have reorganized the site a bit so please refer (and bookmark) the song circle page to find out who is coming soon, and for a brief review of the most recent show. All the bios for past performers have been moved to their own special page, and listed alphabetically for serving convenience.

Thanks to a tip from a music fan, I am in the process of getting a pass for this year’s Winterfolk XVI, a Blues and Roots music festival that will take place on Danforth from Feb. 16-18, 2018. According to the website, “it’s an  all-ages, mid-winter, weatherproof event, where you’ll find the best of urban, blues, rock,  jazz, country, folk and roots music, emulating a multi-stage rural summer festival”. The ambitious schedule has over 150 artists performing at 5 venues over 3 days. Should give me lots to choose from, meet new potential guests for the song circle, and maybe even consider being part of this for next year, if they’ll have me.

FatC Revival

Things have been pretty quiet of the full-band front since the December show, and even before that, gigs were fairly sparse. I hope to change that soon and changes are in motion. News as events develop!

Until then, be well!


Chloé Loves Me

IMG_0089At least, that’s what her website, t-shirts and buttons say. I had the pleasure of catching Chloé Watkinson‘s new show at the Opera House last night. She pulled out all the stops and delivered a solid set with energy, grace and style. I had seen her before (and written about it) when she was in Park Eddy but this new incarnation raises her stagecraft to a whole new level. I was also glad to see that keyboardist extraordinaire and family friend Alan Zemaitis is still with her from that band. I was thrilled to have Alan also play for me at a major birthday bash a few years ago. It was also thrilling to see her dad, Max Webster alumnus and artist Terry Watkinson, play and sing with her last night. Chloé is a major talent, and you will hear more about her in the future, I am sure. For my part, I am very thrilled to say she will be my guest for the ABC Songwriters’ Circle, along with Augusta Ray and Lucy Dee on February 6. Expect an amazing evening!

And Speaking of Which

The new year kicked off spectacularly with my first song circle of 2018, featuring Kevin Foster, David Storey and David Madras (pictured below to my left). Every one of these songwriters blew me away with their talent. A special recognition though must be given to David Madras who was feeling poorly that morning but rallied and made it to the show!IMG_0077.jpg

This week, the song circle will plumb the depths as it will be a one-of-a-kind, “It’s all about the bass” show. We will hit hit rock-bottom as we feature singer/songwriters performing their tunes with only a bass guitar. How low can we go? Come down this Tuesday to find out. My guests’ bios are on the song circle page.

Header ABC FB #11.jpg

Lovely Write-Up

It was a great surprise and pleasure to discover last Tuesday as I was setting up for the song circle this very kind review by Gary 17 in Toronto Moon (which I have mentioned in the past here. I’ve linked it to the original, which will be larger and therefore more legible.

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 6.19.59 PM.png

I hope to see many of you at the Big Bass Bash at the Amsterdam this Tuesday.

Until then, be well!


Ghost in the Machine

Unhappy MacThis post will be brief due to some unforeseen problems with the Old Mac Pro. After a frustrating day trying to get it to reboot, I finally was successful but it required a full OS reinstall, so a lot of settings are off, and I need to go through all that.

Still, a quick run though of the week is possible, starting from the Linsmore show, which was an interesting experiment. Have always liked the sound of two amps together and have a customized setup for that, so it was nice to put it through its paces. With the looper, it made for a big sound even though I was solo. By the way, I am still looking for a a good amateur drummer that wants to be part of FatC. I define amateur in the true sense of someone who does this for love, and would be content with a less-than-pro renumeration, equitably split with the band.

Music City North

Yesterday was the annual New Year’s levee for the riding in which I live. On hand were MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, MPP Arthur Potts, and Toronto councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. The latter is according to city records part of the Toronto Music Advisory Council whose terms of reference state:

The Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council provides a forum for the discussion of opportunities and challenges, exchange of ideas, input and advice, and development of recommendations to:

  • ensure the health, competitiveness and viability of the Toronto music sector;
  • achieve long-term sustainable economic growth and job creation;
  • develop, support and showcase talent;
  • enhance local and global positioning and branding of the city and its music sector;
  • establish Toronto as a respected global centre of excellence for music;
  • facilitate signature events; and
  • collaboratively develop positions on provincial, national and international issues.

The goals of this committee are admirable, and I fully support them (I wrote about this in a previous post). The area of concern, in my opinion, is that support at the grassroots level seems less evidently addressed. The composition of the council appears more tailored towards larger clubs and big shows, so the voice of the local bars and musicians who play in them may be not heard as clearly. Yet, like minor hockey is to the NHL, the support at the grassroots level is what will make the goals expounded in the Toronto Music Strategy sustainable. To her credit, and thanks to a recommendation by friend and avid curler Lorie Fairburn, Mary-Margaret has kindly agreed to meet to hear my thoughts on this, so I will report back once we’ve has a chance to talk.

Show to Catch Today

I am planning on making it out to the Tranzac Club in the late afternoon to catch what I am certain will be a very entertaining and original show of songs and poetry.

ROBERT PRIEST and MAX LAYTON and experience the musical wizardry of BOB COHEN, ALLAN SOBERMAN, MARY HANSON and DAVID HINES. Admission is free! There’s beer on tap! And this month our special guest will be ROB GREENWAY!!

If you’re there, I’d be happy to chat with you about the section above. The more voices I can represent, the better.

ABC Songwriters’ Circle #10

FB header ABC#10

We’re back in the saddle this Tuesday, January 16, 2018 for our first show of the new year and the first in the double digits. Please check out these amazing songwriters’ bios on the ABC SWC page here!

There is lots of energy and eagerness to get back at it, so it will be fun!

Until then, be well!


Lost in Translation

I’m happy to write that I have actually started on my only New Year’s resolution: having more French songs. I felt it times to get back to my linguistic and cultural roots, and frankly, with only one French song in the repertoire, I was clearly neglecting that part of things. To that end, I translated Loud Girl, which may end up called L’audacieuse, and wrote a new one from scratch called Comme une boule de gomme. Both are pending recording but should be done in a week or two, depending on other distractions.

FrancopenmicWhat propulsed this along was meeting Frédéric Boutin at Relish. He plays with a few other Francophones, and coincidentally teaches music at G. E. Cartier, where my three kids all received their elementary schooling. In chatting, it rekindled the idea of more French material which I had backburnered. He also mentioned a French open mic called delightfully Franc’Open Mic, a forum for music, poetry, comedy or almost any performing art that has been operating for over 3 years. The event his hosted and curated by songwriter Kyris Mignotet and actor/playwright Florian François.

The next one takes place at the Free Times Café on February 15, and I fully intend on being there to première at least one of the new songs.

Out and About

I made it back to the Linsmore for my first Indie Tuesday in a long time, since the ABC Songwriters’ Circle is on break until January 16. It was great to catch some people I know well and mentioned in previous posts, and new kids just starting out as well. Kudos to Mary-Elizabeth Gilbert for keeping this format thriving. It’s particularly great for people just breaking in to the scene, and for them often one of their first paying gigs.

On Friday, I was able to catch a set of Leanna Yamada‘s band at Relish. It had been a while since we had worked together in the “day job”, so it turned out to be a lovely reunion. The band sounded great too!


New Show Alert!

For those who missed the social media messages or the update in this blog’s sidebar, I’m happy to announce a fresh new show at the Linsmore this coming Tuesday, January 9, 2018, opening for Juno Award-winning musician, songwriter, producer, actor, and teacher Russ Wilson of Junkhouse fame. It’s a thrill and honour to be included with this talented line up; I’m on at 8, Paul O’Toole is at 9, Russ at 9:30 and closing the night Homa & Alex at 10:30.

This will be special, so please make the time to come down. Looking forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, be well!