Just back from a lovely weekend in Buffalo, New York with the lovely Mrs. F&theCats. Impressed by how many big homes there are there and the obvious care the owners devote to the city as a whole. Thanks to the Elmwood Village Inn for being extraordinarily welcoming hosts. Highly recommend this B&B if you are going through Buffalo.
Last night was a long deferred return to the Amsterdam Bicycle Club to say hi to Henry and Laurie and catch some Afro-Brazilian vibes with Bruce Jones, Robin Asher and Lucya Almeida. Great vibe!
Tonight, Tony Oldland is hating a Rolling Stones themed jam at the Salty Dog, so that should be fun.
This Friday, it will be a special night as one of fave bands, the Lonely Hearts, is playing for the first time ever at the Dakota Tavern. Got my ticket and eager for a hot show!
Our story begins in ancient times in a Toronto east-end bar.
The Only Café at that time hosted a Saturday open mic, and led by multi-instrumentalists Derek Downham, Tim Bovaconti and Terence Gowan. I used to go there as often as possible, particularly to support John Pelubski, and see who else might surprise everyone by showing up. At that point, I was still too intimidated by the talent and repressed to play at this venue.
One of the “regular” bands I often felt was a highlight of the evening with their energy and originality included a drummer named Jace Traz. It took a few years to make the connection that this was the very same individual I would know much better as a regular at Relish.
Jump forward a few years, and the aforementioned Relish connection begins. Jace would often be there subbing on drums at Stir It Up Sunday when regular co-host Paul Brennan was away, and for other bands when needed, including on one occasion for me.
But what really got my attention was when Jace would switch to guitars and play original material. That’s when I realized I was hearing one of Toronto’s greatest undiscovered power-pop phenomena. Jace’s hyper-catchy melodies and rhythms layered over lyrics ranging from the delightfully metaphoric Pistachio Girl, through the more self-deprecating Fake, and to the darkly cautionary Rape Van. Few songwriters could blend disparate subjects like mathematics and heartbreak, like in the beautiful Divide. Each of his appearances was a highlight of the evening and a consistent audience favourite.
Tonight (July 23, 2019), Jace will be performing a set at the Linsmore Tavern. I hope all of you reading this will be there at 8 to see and hear for yourselves. Check out the links above too for a preview!
Relish 2.0 opened its doors last Saturday to an enthusiastic and plentiful crowd. The place was humming and, judging from the non-stop activity by staff, it seems business was very brisk. The location is prime, with plenty of regulars there and many walk-in patrons.
The first (ever) band up at 7 was the $6 Tall Boys, with frontman David Macmichael also celebrating a birthday. I’ve heard David, Jace Traz and Arch Rockefeller many times before, always enjoying it, but there was a unique energy to it that night, and special appearances by Chelsea Reed and Dean McKinnon for an extra bit of special. The sound was vastly different from the old Relish due to significantly larger dimensions in all directions, and masterfully mixed by Rick Henry. The space is impressive yet still comfortable and welcoming, with lots of decor elements from the old venue to make regulars feel at home.
The food menu included all my favourites, some of which I sampled, promptly served. All in all, it felt like the place had been running for weeks, rather than just a few hours. Kudos to Joanne Clayton and the entire staff who have obviously invested themselves fully into making it the best transition it could be.
I plan to be back this Sunday for my first Stir It Up at the new location (I was away for the actual inaugural) and expect to report on that shortly after.
This blog will mark the first part of a transition for Relish Bar & Grill, a venue often mentioned as it has been key to my musical journey. After well over a decade at Danforth and Cedarvale, the club is pulling up roots and moving west to 511 Danforth, near Logan.
I was fortunate to be there for The Last Stir, where I performed my own Relish Song, probably for the last time. Here is a demo version.
It was also perfect closure as I finally got to play my cover of fellow traveller Michael Cuddy‘s excellent Sink or Swim for him. Despite a false start and forgotten lyrics, I conveyed the essence of the new arrangement and Michael seemed to like it. It will be going into the FatC set list as my featured cover.
This weekend, the new Relish (2.0) opens new doors on Saturday and I intend to be there. Check back next time for how that went.
Too much going on this weekend so this post is a bit late.
First in importance was #37 anniversary for Mrs. Félix and the Cats and me. Great run so far and hoping for many more.
Second, a fair bit of time was devoted to the seemingly never ending ManCave Studio anteroom (aka our rec room) finishing. With luck, the next post will feature an announcement of completion.
Third, a fun show at the Black Swan thanks to Phillip Vonesh! I opened the show solo and had the good fortune to have Paul Brennan sit it on drums for a few tunes as well. Thanks Paul for keeping me in time!
I also had the pleasure of backing Phillip for his set. My gratitude to Philly Vee for trusting me to be a “Spare Part” for the night. Great songs!
Sandwiched in between sets 1 and 3 was Mudlust and the Short Walk featuring Ryan Schmidt on guitar and vocals, Paul Brennan on drums and David Macmichael on bass. Ryan’s raw yet tight and intense blues laced compositions always strike me as amazingly honest and real. A must if you see him performing anywhere.
That’s it for this week! A couple of shows are on my cale far for this week: the Jitters at East Lynn Park Wednesday and the Marwills at Relish (1.0) on Friday. Come on back to read all about them.