East York

East York (former borough), Ontario (Canada)

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.

Happy Canada Day!

Be safe and well!

So This Is a Problem?

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It’s been a while since I took stock of the entire array of effects pedals I own. The good news is that I never actually need or would use all of these at once. There are actually three separate systems geared towards stage size and gig requirements, so there’s quite a bit of redundancy. A fourth board (top right) works with any of the other three to add Mellotron and looping. A few odds and ends on the lower left, including one that looks like a pedal but is actually an amplifier — the Traynor Quarter Horse.

Anyway, when you look at them all together…yeah maybe that’s enough.

For now.

Be safe and be well!

What A Week!

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
 Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio


Pierre Pelletier (1933-2019)

It’s been an intense week as I had to deal with the death of my dad. It wasn’t completely unexpected as his health had been in decline, but as these often go, one can never be sure of when it will actually happen. So I sadly wasn’t able to be there when he passed but did travel to Rivière-du-Loup the following day to take care of the consequences. It’s ongoing…

My dad was an fun-loving man until his health started to fail. His lifelong interest in politics often fueled it chats. For the last few decades until three years ago, he would spend the winter in the Dominican Republic. This led to the writing of my song The Final Winter. I am reposting it in his memory.

Final winter – 2017-01-04, 3.17 PM

Be well!

Hunkering

Super thanks to loyal friends and fans who made it out for the Black Swan show this past Saturday, considering how many other things were happening as it was Easter weekend.

A special thank you goes out to Fraz and Emmy for being there so often, and to Kevin and Jen for impeccable sound. Particularly, I want to recognize Monkey Fightin’ Snakes for an awesome opening set.

 

 


More Upheaval

Work is about to begin in the basement area leading to ManCave Studio, so there may be some disruption to the blog over the next month. The good news is that this has forced us to tidy up and purge a lot of accumulated memorabilia. During that process, some interesting artefacts have surface. Here’s one with a shoutout to the Nerve, a band I worked with a few years back.

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L to R: Alex Vos, David Israelson, Richard Scarsbrook and me.

There may be some show announcements soon…tbc. In the meantime be well!

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Café Solo

I haven’t played a solo show in quite a while, so today’s show at Might & Main Café was pleasant, rewarding and more intimidating than I expected. Overall, it went well with flubs well-disguised and a forgiving audience—thanks!

Thanks to Phillip Vonesh and the staff for the opportunity to stretch outside my comfort zone.


Upgrades

The studio just got a major monitor upgrade, going from the solidly serviceable Yorkville YSM-5s to beefier and crisper Yamaha HS8s. Of course, now I have to remix everything accordingly! So that’s where I’ll be up to for the next long while I think.

More as progress ensues…

Be well!

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Substantial Completion

Finally!

After weeks of work, the isolation room is essentially done.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate.

From top left: the “sauna” with main wall closed—padded door is on the right; the same with front wall open (this is for accessing the mics and drums easily from the front side—it’s pretty tight in there—and moving gear in and out easily; view from the front with wall open; view through the regular door. Bottom row: overhead paired mics in XY pattern—I had previously used the ORTF method but clip limitations make that challenging; cable conduit and sound maze vent for air—drummers with a good oxygen supply keep better time. Bottom right: the drummer’s perspective.

I’ve also added extra cabling so the room can double as a vocal booth or iso booth for amplifiers on overdubs.

Further tests will have to confirm whether it has reduced the outside levels as much as hoped for, but a quick check gives hope that it has gone from unbearable to somewhat annoying, at the very least.


Gig Alert!

While I haven’t stopped playing entirely (a few open mics here and there), it has been rather quiet on the performance front lately. That is about to change as the Cats are back at Relish very soon on Saturday March 2 from 9:30 to 11:30. Please put THAT on your calendars, why doncha!


Winterfolk

This weekend, I will be volunteering at Winterfolk XVII, an annual music festival held in 3 clubs near Danforth and Broadview. You can find me at the Black Swan running cables and setting up mics on Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday evening MC’ing on the 3rd floor at the same venue. Should be a fun gig. More info including the full lineup of artists and ticket prices at the Winterfolk site here!

Until then, be well

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