ManCave Studio Diary #2 – I Won’t Tell You

Or maybe I will.

This week’s feature is John Mahler. I came to know John as the spouse of a friend who shares the same athletic activity I do. I came to find out that he was an aspiring songwriter, and after some coaxing and a few shared stages, John came to ManCave Studio to lay down some tracks. It seems to be going well, and we are working on our fifth.

Here is a bio of John from the old ABC Songwriters’ Circle.

John MahlerJohn Mahler asked himself a few years ago what he wanted to do with the rest of his life — music had always been his passion and songwriting his dream. Since his teen years, John had played guitar and written on and off, but life’s demands had invariably gotten in the way. Four years ago, he bought himself a new guitar, and re-engaged in the long-aspired-to commitment to finishing the songs of his youth, and to daily practice developing his own fingerpicked folksy-jazzy-bluesy style. With a growing catalogue of completed songs and renewed skills to play them, a friend said to him, “Now you have to perform them. After all, a song isn’t a song until it is heard.” Now John is applying himself to the craft of performing and sharing his songs with a growing and appreciative audience. (show #7 – Tuesday, December 5, 2017)

This song is I Won’t Tell You, which is a reflection on how the things unsaid can erode a  relationship, assuming I understand it correctly.

On this track, John sings and plays guitar on the first two tracks listed below. I play all other electric guitars and bass. The drums and percussion are Logic programmed with some tweaks.

Track List:

  • Guitar 1: Taylor T5 plugged in direct panned slightly right; light delay + reverb
  • Guitar 2: Taylor T5 plugged in direct panned hard left; repeating echos staring on second chorus
  • Electric guitar 1: I think I used a Gretsch Electromatic direct, amp emulation with chorus and a very light reverb. It comes in on the verse verse
  • Electric guitar 2: same Gretsch for slide on the bridge section; overdrive and delay
  • Electric guitar 3: as above with harmony line
  • Bass direct” only EQ and compression
  • Drums: Logic Brush Train Drumset loops
  • Percussion: Logic internal EXS24 plugin – Latin
  • Vocals: single track through the Rode NT-1A panned left
  • Vocals: same as above through the Sennheiser MK-4 panned right; slapback delay

This recording is a good example of the aim of the studio. Critical ears will catch the flaws for sure. At this point, it serves the purpose of putting the “flesh on the bone” for John’s song. And I’m always fine with going back to improve the product, especially with increased experience and fresh ears. Happy listening!

I Won’t Tell You ©2018 John Mahler

Dock on Queen Show Rescheduled

After sorting out the confusion (on my part mostly) about the canceled October 27 show at the Dock on Queen, the lovely folks there found a new slot for us on Friday December 7. So there will after all be another 2018 Félix & the Cats performance before the New Year. Best of all, early birds can catch the show because of a very civilized 8 PM start.

Put that in your calendar now! Thanks for reading and listening!

Be well!


ManCave Studio Diary #1 – Come On, Come On!

As I’ve already alluded to, the studio has become an important pursuit for me.

Starting off, I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish, beyond recording my own songs. While at this point I don’t pretend to be delivering fully radio-ready recordings, I hope I have set the bar high enough to deliver reasonably well produced songs that can act as quality demos for securing gigs, or helping singer-songwriters realize a full vision of their compositions.

One of the first projects I took on was a recording of Gary Edward Allen‘s Come On, Come On. Below is the bio I used for the now-ended ABC Songwriters’ Circle.

GaryGary Edward Allen is a singer songwriter hailing from Vancouver now living in Toronto but born and raised in Ottawa. He plays an interesting mesh of acoustic styles ranging from Neo-classical to psychedelic freak folk. Rooted in classic 70’s rock and 90’s alternative, but with modern sensibilities, Gary takes you on a journey every time. His songs are online and readily available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and ReverbNation. He performs and co-hosts at a weekly open mic with Amber Durette at Legends on Danforth every Thursday night.  (show #6 – Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / show #36 – July 17, 2018)

Gary and I have known each other for a few years now, first meeting at the Linsmore, then when I have performed at the Thursday Night Open Mic at Legends, which he co-hosts with Amber Durette. Gary kindly agreed to let me take a stab at producing a song for him. He came in well-prepared, and the song is very close to what I think he had in mind from the get-go, with the addition of an intro and the suggestion to hold the long vocal note just leading into the outro. Gary plays all the instruments save the drums which are from the built-in software in Logic Pro X, and which I tried to program as best I could. Still learning…

Track List:

  • Acoustic guitar 1 through AKG D202 panned hard left
  • Acoustic guitar 1 through Rode NT-1A panned hard right
  • Acoustic guitar 1 direct centred
  • Acoustic guitar 2 (after bridge/outro fills) through AKG D202 panned hard left
  • Acoustic guitar 2 (after bridge/outro fills) through Rode NT-1A panned hard right
  • Acoustic guitar 3 (intro) direct panned partway left; delay & reverb
  • Electric guitar 1 with modelling amp and fx panned hard left
  • Electric guitar 2 with modelling amp and fx panned hard left
  • Electric guitar 3 (capo’d at 12th fret) with modelling amp & fx panned partway right
  • Electric guitar 4 (slide for outro) with modelling amp and fx
  • Bass direct with modelling amp
  • Drums: Logic Virtual drummer – “Liverpool” kit, “Darcy” drummer
  • Vocals: single track through the Rode NT-1A

The recording is still rough, and given more time and more experience on my part, I’m certain we could tighten it up technically. Nevertheless, we are both reasonably happy with the result as it accomplishes what we had hoped, which was to flesh out what Gary had in mind and establish the right feel for it.

I hope you enjoy it!

Come On, Come On! ©2018 Gary Edward Allen


And Speaking of Recording…

The Cats have finally been herded and we have begun laying down beds for our forthcoming album?/EP?, tbd. It is such a joy to work with Chris and Neil as they are creative and professional in every way. Thanks guys!

band with wine
Photos courtesy Chris Bender

Gig Alert -Change

This coming Saturday’s previously announced show the at the lovely Dock On Queen (Queen East between Logan and Carlaw) is postponed to a date to be determined.

Until next week, be well!


Tidy Up Time

Just a quick one this week. It’s been busy and this is my second attempt to upload after finishing a full draft and seeing everything wiped out 😦

Things have been busy again at ManCave Studio. While it’s not my goal at this point to produce radio-ready recordings, it still hope to produce quality demos that clients (and I) can use to secure shows or realize a fully produced song. As such, I’ve made some enhancements as shown below, which include a better storage system, a new cheap and cheerful set of matched Apex 185B microphones for drum overhead recording (and using the ORTF configuration which I have just learned about), and a spiffy new recording desk which you can see better below, and makes for more ergonomic and airier setting.IMG_0923



With that as a preamble, and some recording sessions looming, I will be starting a new series on the blog hopefully next week, and will feature songs already recorded here by other artists pending SOCAN registration. Thanks in advance to the artists for going along!

The blogs will talk about the process of recording, the choice of instruments, some technical details, and production choices. A final mix will of course be included.

So please come back and check it out. Until then, be well!


Three Guys and One Rhythm Section

42543870_1707178439392584_711399755636277248_o.jpgThanks to Fraz Milne for that title and the poster above he prepared for our combined show at the Linsmore this past Tuesday for their Indie Music series. I won’t say a lot this week on the blog, as Canadian Thanksgiving preparations are a priority, but there are a few people who deserve a special thanks.

First of all, to Mary Elizabeth Gilbert for her trust in putting this show together (it isn’t the first time either), for her tireless promotion of independent artists and the videos posted below. Thanks as well to the aforementioned Fraz, along with Sal Indigo for agreeing to do this show. Finally, and most certainly not least gratitude to my superb rhythm section, Neil Morris and Chris Bender who worked the whole evening for only modest compensation. Kudos to Sal for having the inspired thought as an experienced busker of putting his case out for tips. It helped a lot!

Hats off too to everyone who made it out and for the nice words after the performance.

Here is a sample of the night from each of us. We must have been loud as the phone that recorded this is a bit overdriven, but still worth a listen.

Fraz Milne

Sal Indigo

Félix and the Cats


Our next performance is October 27, 2018, back at the Dock on Queen. The last few shows there were acoustic, but for this next one, we are fully plugged in so it should be rockin’ fun!

Happy Thanksgiving and be well!