I have in the past mentioned my occasional visits to Rivière-du-Loup, Québec, and the thriving music community there. The person who initially made this happen is Keven Lemieux, whom I have met almost every time I visited the town. What I haven’t talked enough sufficiently is that Keven is a remarkable and super versatile musician. Please take a moment to check out some samples here.
I particularly like this one done in hommage to Les Paul. Wow!
A few posts back, I posted a video of a local group remotely performing Under Pressure. Not to be outdone, Toronto’s own Tristan Avakian, a very sought-after guitarist—Ultimate Queen Celebration, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil (Quidam), and many broadway shows, plus as a songwriter/performer under the name As Waters—knocks it out of the park with UQC’s version of the same. Just listen with your eyes closed for a minute…
Not everything with six strings is a standard guitar. One of the lesser-heard variations is the baritone guitar. Although the strings are tuned the same relative to each other, the overall pitch is a fourth lower, making the lowest string a B instead of an E. The neck is also longer.
Why would anyone want this?
Well it’s the tone in the baritone. There is a particularly unique resonance with this guitar that lends itself particularly well to single twangy notes, often heard in surf music and spaghetti westerns. Some of the best examples are Diane Eddy’sPeter Gunn and the B52s‘ Rock Lobster. Other examples can be found here.
I’m hoping to incorporate this guitar into at least one of my songs, but we’ll see how that goes. Thanks to Sal for the loan!
Back in 2016, those alcyon days, I posted about a song written even earlier, and the only original done with a cover band at the time.
Although I have performed it a few times with the Cats, I never felt it lived up to its potential, and have tried to alter it to see if that would give it the spark I was looking for.
Still working on that, but just for fun, here is the iteration I posted in 2016, plus two others: one redone as a blues shuffle, and the other most recently mostly to accommodate a key change, a hook, and more interesting chord changes.
This post is a bit late as I was waiting for a topic to manifest itself. It took a few extra days but one has appeared.
Thanks to Joanne Clayton, proprietor, curator and chef at Relish Bar and Grill for this. She recently posted a sobering status update on Facebook.
There is no doubt that almost everyone has struggled though the pandemic, but I think we need to take a moment to reflect on the plight of small business owners, particularly those in the hospitality industry. Consider as well that many of these businesses help the musical community by employing artists who need that work to supplement what they earn from shows and are now laid off and unable to perform live (at least there is CERB and EI). I could go on about the challenges and misconceptions of running a restaurant AND paying musicians even at the best of times, but I’ll save that for another rant post.
Throw into the mix how a club like Relish that has a core mission of supporting live music, and you quickly understand that we ALL lose if it, and places like it don’t make it through the pandemic.
A few weeks ago, good friend Salabama got in touch to see if we could produce a “full band version” of a song he had written for and performed at East York’s (a former borough of Toronto pre-amalgamation for any of you non-local readers) Canada Day celebration. However, the pandemic put a wrench in the works, so the organizing committee changed the plan to having a celebratory website in order to maintain social distancing. A key component of this would be a recording of We Love East York.
Initially, Sal sent me an iPhone recording of live captured vocals and acoustic guitar. NeMo, Chris and I were able to add our parts after the fact, to the point where the recording was sufficiently fleshed out to submit to the committee for approval, pending a better recording.
Once we got the go ahead, recording the song while staying apart posed some challenges, but since many of those had been worked out on other demos with the guys, it went smoothly. Here was the process.
First came the basic guitar track with a click track/software drum track just to maintain a steady rhythm. This was sent to Chris and NeMo who recorded at home and added their parts (replacing the provisional virtual drums). These files were Dropboxed to me and flowed into the master mix.
To re-record Sal, the bed tracks were bounced and transferred to Garageband and copied to an iPad mini so I could go to Sal’s and do a remote recording. I set up on his back deck and ran the mic inside to record vocals, then changed the setup to mic his amp for the slide guitar overdub (geek note: Sennheiser MK4 for vox, Sennheiser e609 for amp, iRig Pro interface).
The chants and handclaps were dubbed after the fact and duplicated to create the “crowd” effect – thanks NeMo and Bender family! Could not have done this without you. Also many thanks to Sal for trusting me with this!
This project was a lot of fun to complete, and meaningful too. It’s always a treat to work with Sal, and East York, while not my community by only a few blocks, was where I first started working in education before the TDSB was formed. Below is the video produced for the song, and here is the link to East York’s Celebration site.
Again the days have drifted by and I lost track of “post day”, four days ago.
Still, better late than never.
This week’s post will be about one of the new songs written during the pandemic, although not specifically inspired by it.
Rather, the idea of things happening due to odds, the hope to beat them, and simply the concept of numbers themselves have fuelled this latest song.
Layered over that, I set myself the challenge of working in different time signatures (again numbers). This one has three – 7/4, 4/4 and 6/8. Huge thanks to NeMo and Chris for bass and drums, remarkably done remotely!
The title comes from the classroom game played many times when I taught.
This week, I’m featuring another fellow musician who has recently posted some interesting remote collaborations on social media.
I got to know about Joanne Park from her appearances at Relish and through her posts. Not only is she a great and fearless bassist (playing and singing Yes songs unaccompanied save for her on bass is remarkable), she also plays a great guitar, particularly in the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed style.
The video below is Supertramp’s Logical Song, and besides Joanne, includes Joan Marshall on keyboard and Kristen Prince on saxophone. Worth a listen!
Thanks to Gary17’s weekly post, I was pointed in the direction of this quite spectacular cover of the Queen/Bowie classic Under Pressure. Please check out Gary’s post at Torontomoon.ca for details of the line up and how this video came to be. Also, please consider subscribing to his newsletter if you are a musician or a fan. It’s the least we can do to show support back for someone who has never given up on live music.
The days are drifting into one another. Partly why this post is late.
Anyway, now that heat has finally arrived in Toronto (nearly 30° today), there is impetus to install the window AC unit that had been sitting in storage since the rest of the fenestration was updated.
I’m happy to report it’s done. Even with only me in there, the computer and the rest of the electronics in the old MaCave put out quite a bit of heat over the course of a recording/mixing session. No excuses now to avoid ongoing projects.