2019 was a year of unexpected changes, but also one where a path has begun to define itself from some of the diversions.
Within a week of the new year beginning, we were moving my mom from here condo to her new apartment, prepping it for sale and meeting contractors to begin basement renovations here (more on that later). Musically, a fun show at the Linsmore with Ryan Schmidt, David Macmichael and Paul Brennan (Mudlust and the Short Walk) AND headliners Level Ground for Indie Tuesday, with construction of the drum booth in ManCave Studio in the background.
With the drum booth complete, in thought that recording could resume for the Félix and the Cats EP. Ha! At least I caught some very good shows, including a good part of Winterfolk as a volunteer, as well as catching the excellent Reggaddiction at Jasper Dandy.
An early month show at the old Relish got March off to a great start, with a solo show at Might and Main to bookend. In the middle, lots of activity helping daughter and son-in-law-to-be get ready for a big move to Hamilton!
The big move to Hamilton for #1 daughter and partner was the family feature for April. Still got in some shows, notably Tyler Ellis at Dora Keogh, and a great evening with Monkey Fighting’ Snakes AND Félix & the Cats for a double bill! Meanwhile, work in the studio has=d “ground” to a stop due to basement renovations.
May was a quiet month for gigs but on the plus side, ManCave Beach (seen below) was finally cemented over and recording could resume.
Things got busier in June, with a Linsmore show attended as audience, a trip to Rivière-du-Loup and some amazing grassroots music, and the first of the Sunday matinees at the Black Swan, featuring Salabama as the featured performer. Additionally, a fine birthday bash for Tony Oldland, an Ashley Gilmore / Fraz Milne show at Duggan’s Brewery and another the same night at the Dakota with Kyle Sullivan, Graeme Moffat and Alan Zemaitis as the superstar rhythm section.
July opened with a bang catching the Marwills—always a fave— at the NEW Relish, followed by a long deferred performance at the open mic on the following. Later, Reggaddiction was featured at Woodbine Park, then another Relish open mic with a distinctly family flavour. The month closed with a very latin vibe with Bruce Jones, Robin Asher and Lucya Almeida at the Amsterdam.
More shows, including two Chloé Watkinson performances, The Lonely Hearts’ debut at the Dakota and at the Long & MacQuade mural reveal, and sitting in with Salabama.
With a family visit from across the pond, the beginning of the month was devoted to entertaining and sharing the regional highlights. Later in the month, NeMo playing for an Indigenous/Reggae CD Launch, some recording and our début at the BRAND NEW Relish at 511 Danforth, particularly notable for TWO photographers catching our every move on stage.
A road trip and some thought provoking thoughts by Greta Thunberg pushed Mrs. F&Cats and I to go hybrid. Another Indie Tuesday Linsmore show had the Cats playing with the FortNights and Phillip Vonesh and the Spare Parts. Later, saw Fraz Milne again (he is one has of FortNights) playing his own tunes, with James Clark, a favourite, opening.
At month’s end, back at the Linsmore to catch a great evening with Leanna Yamada, who has recorded at the ol’ ManCave, and featuring Daniela Gassi who performed with all 3 acts, including Menage, a revelation!
November began with a bang, with a Black Swan Sunday matinee featuring Omar Saab, who not only took the time to learn two sets worth of my songs, but did a killer set of covers, adding impromptu tunes on the fly. Loved it! It was also a time to do some decluttering of the studio, the items leaving finding happy new homes thanks to Cask Music. Work also began on elder daughter’s ceramic studio, converted from a dingy garage. That project is almost done, and the results are gratifying. Also, caught an evening of song at the Dock on Queen (hoping to be back myself in 2020) with Ryan Schmidt and Timothy Sheldon, who have never sounded better.
Another trip to Rivière-du-Loup to deal with my papa’s passing cast a pall over December. It was good to keep busy otherwise with a recording session, some mixing and a pre-Christmas record launch.
Then there was the work in Hamilton… Got to learn about self-levelling cement.
The year ends with a great family Christmas, and an exciting show tonight, New Year’s eve, at the Ripley Aquarium with son-in-law in waiting Omar Saab’s band, The Lonely Hearts getting everyone dancing (yes even me as promised to Mrs. F&Cats).
Next year’s first post may include some resolutions.
In the meantime, wishing you my few and faithful reader to be well for 2020. Happy New Year!