Click to Resume

Super brief as there is a lot going on in the other aspects of life.

Renovation has reached a significant turning point, one where I have removed the stuff stored and cluttering up ManCave Studio thereby more or less reclaiming the space. Just in time too as I have a session scheduled tomorrow.


New Open Mic

A new open mic is starting up this Wednesday at The Cut, which appears to be formerly the St. Louis Bar & Grill. The host for August has impeccable credentials in that it’s David Macmichael who has been doing the same at Relish B&G for many years. It’s on my calendar to check out and I expect to report back next Sunday.

Until then, be well!

Fellow Travellers – Part 8

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.

jace.jpgBut 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!

Until later, be well!

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…And I Say Hello

And we’re back.

IMG_2256.jpgRelish 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.

Until then, be well!

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You Say Goodbye…

David Macmichael and Paul Brennan, cohosts of the best open mic anywhere!

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.

relish-bar-and-grill.m4a

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.

Until the, be well!

Loooooong Weekend

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.

Be well!

Salvation

Sunday is traditionally the Christian day for spiritual contemplation, with the aim of saving one’s soul.

And what could be more redemptive than an afternoon of music at one’s of Toronto’s time-honoured temples of live music: the Black Swan Tavern.

Rather than do a standard all-Cats show though, I thought it might be more praise worthy to invite Salabama to be part of the service. If you follow the blog, you will know that he has recorded a good number of demos at ManCave Studio, so it was natural for for the Cats to be his back up band.

The afternoon opened with a energetic set of FatC originals, then a second set of Salabama songs, and ended with a third set of jammed covers. Despite the beautiful weather and the draw of the Pride Parade, we had a respectable turnout, so much so that the club has asked us back for the early fall. Dates TBC.

Thanks to the friends and family who came out, to Sal for being the inspiration for this event, and as always to NeMo and Chris for their talent and enthusiasm.

Be well!

Pop-Up POP

Coming to you from Rivière-Du-Loup, QC, this will be a bilingual blog bien sûr! For English, simply scroll down.


De retour à Rivière-Du-Loup pour ma visite patrimoniale, dans tous les sens du mot, j’ai cette année l’avantage d’avoir de contacts dans la communauté musicale qui m’ont guidé vers des événements uniquement divertissants et qui ont mis en relief la différence entre le désiré et le réalisé. J’explique un peu plus bas.

Mais avant, un sommaire des deux sorties que j’ai fait…

Vendredi

Tel que mentionné l’an passé dans ce blog, RDL bénéficie d’une société artistique nommée Rainbow Submarine qui organise des spectacles divers, ce qui n’est pas unique en soit, mais le fait en concert et en partenariat avec des locaux souvent inédits. La semaine passée par example, un a eu lieu au Mini Putt local. Cette semaine, l’atelier/boutique de bijoux La Mélusine se transforma en scène feuillue (gracieuseté de Botanix RDL) pour accueillir Laurence-Anne, musicienne vivant maintenant à Montréal mais originaire du coin (Kamouraska). Accompagnée talentueusement au saxophone par Ariel Comptois et à la percussion par Laurent St-Pierre, Laurence-Anne nous emporta sur un petit trip évocateur (pour un gars de ma génération) parsemé d’influences prog-rock et psychédéliques, mais le tout exprimé de façon unique et personnelle. La sono et l’éclairage, finement ajustés par l’équipe technique du Rainbow Submarine, n’ont pu qu’accentuer la qualité du spectacle. Le tout fut une expérience transcendante.

Samedi

Le lendemain, je me retrouve à l’église anglicane Saint Bartholemew—déjà toute une histoire derrière ça—pour une soirée cabaret. Le format enchaîne musiciens, poètes, auteurs et comédiens. Ici le meilleur serait de laisser quelques photos vous offrir un aperçu, ainsi qu’un petit clip.

Pour ces deux soirées extraordinaires, je dois remercier Keven Lemieux de m’en avoir parlé, et Maxime Varenne et l’équipe entière du Rainbow Submarine de leur chaleureux accueil. Je dois les saluer pour avoir transformé en réel ce qu’ailleurs, même dans un grand centre comme Toronto, on a de la peine à retrouver: une communauté artistique autonome, proactive et en plein essor.


I’m back in Rivière-Du-Loup for another paternal visit, auspiciously on Fathers Day weekend. This year, it’s been less of a blind search for entertainment thanks to social media contacts that guided me to the best this strikingly vibrant musical community has to offer, which laid out in stark contrast the difference between aspiration and realization. More on that later.

But first, what I saw and heard…

Friday

As reported last year, RDL benefits from the presence of an artistic organization called Rainbow Submarine that promotes events—nothing new there—but does it with surprisingly inventive partnerships and venues. Las week’s show for instance took place in the local Mini Putt. The show I caught was in a jewelry shop/boutique called La Mélusine, transformed into leafy musical concert hall (thanks to local nursery Botanix) in order to host Laurence-Anne, originally from the area (Kamouraska) and now living in Montreal. Backed by Ariel Comptois on sax and Laurent St-Pierre on percussion, Laurence-Anne took us on a journey flavoured with touches of prog-rock and psychedelia, layered within her unique rhythmic, harmonic and melodic approach. Sound and lights, ably provided by the Rainbow Submarine tech crew, further enhanced what was already a transcended performance.

Saturday

Did you know that Rivière-du-Loup had a signifiant Anglo presence in the 19th century? Hence, a cabaret night hosted in Saint Bartholomew Anglican Church, of course! Like a more curated open mic, the evening brought together musicians poets, authors and actors. The photos and short clip below should hint at what I witnessed. The event was licensed so I enjoyed a beer in church. Praise be!

Massive thanks to Keven Lemieux for connecting me to these events, along with Maxime Varenne and the entire Rainbow Submarine team for their indulgence and warm welcome. Kudos mostly for nurturing what could only be wished for elsewhere, even major markets like Toronto: a supportive, proactive and thriving artistic community.


It’s back to Toronto for me and two shows this coming Sunday, June 23. First at 10:15 am at Might & Main for a solo acoustic set as part of an amazing lineup of performers starting at 9 and all the way to 2:30 in the afternoon. Then, from 4 to 8 with the Cats doing a set of FatC songs, then backing up Salabama at the Black Swan. Pick your event, or better yet, do both for a fun musical marathon!

Be well! Salut!

Up to My Neck

The home renovation project had consumed me.

It’s been challenging to do anything but try to move that forward AND maintain musical commitments, hence the paucity of content.

Tonight, I’m allowing some passive entertainment, live for sure, to hopefully re-energize things, and nothing could fit the bill better than a quiet evening of excellent acoustic blues piano with the very talented Juno Award winning Julian Fauth at Sauce on the Danforth. I believe he has a Tuesday evening residency, and well worth a trip to the east end.

Until next time, be well!

Back in the Saddle

After a protracted absence, it was finally back at Relish this past Sunday for not one, nor even two, but three world premieres: two of mine called I Don’t Know and Burning Bridges, and a cover of one of my friend Michael Sheen Cuddy’s songs. Once again, David Macmichael and Paul Brennan proved why they are the best open mic rhythm section in the city. I hope to repeat these three tunes real soon, maybe even this week. Michael, will you be there to find out which song I did?


Double Header Gig Alert

Mark you calendars for Sunday June 23 from 4 to 8 pm for a rare matinee show at the Black Swan with a first set by the Cats, then being joined for the next two by good buddy Salabama.

I should be well warmed up as I’ll also be part of a an earlier “on the street” multi-artist show at Might & Main. The exact time is tbd but the line up features many past performers at M&M, performing from 9am to 2pm. Should be a fun and busy day. Details and invitations to follow.

Be well!

Quelle surprise!

Last Tuesday marked a return (as a spectator) to the Linsmore for Indie Tuesday.

First on the bill was a favourite of mine, TC Folkpunk (or better yet TeeCee Folquepunque as will be clear later). It was great to catch TC’s new material and some old favourites. He was in great form and sporting a new Telecaster which is perhaps the best sounding guitar I’ve heard him play to date.

Next was Ghost Town, and band new to me that performed a solid set. Strong ensemble with good vocals.

But the real surprise of the night was the third act, UNT. A power trio, the band launched into great tight metal/psychedelic riffy tunes led by guitarist and lead vocalist Michel Scotta Delorme with Marc Porter and Rick Smith on bass and drums and back up vocals and in French! It was also fun to see Michel favoured a Traynor Bass Master for his amp (yes like the one I let get away in in fit of overzealous purging).

I’ll be posting the blog sans photos for now, but check again later in case I manage to get some of the show.

Be well and Victorious!