A Tale of Two Chrisses

Black Swan with Chris Scian.jpgGig Alert

In a few weeks, the Cats will be back at the Black Swan Tavern for a late afternoon matinée show. With two shows already done (guesting Salabama this past June and Omar Saab in November), the format seems to be established. This time – Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 4 to 8 PM – our guest will be Chris Scian, for whom the Cats will provide backup for two sets after we set the mood with one of our own.

Chris and I first crossed paths at a open mics, particularly at the one at Legends on Danforth, hosted by Amber Durette and Gary Edward Allen. Although Chris more often plays covers, he is an established and gifted songwriter, which led to an appearance at my Songwriters’ Circle back in July of 2018.

Chris’ solid vocals and deep catalogue of songs made him an obvious choice for our Black Swan matinée. We expect this to be a solidly fun show, so please join us, Chris (Scian) and Chris (Bender), along with NeMo and me. There is no cover, but PWYC donations are always welcome.

Until next week, where I may geek out on a new gear project, be well!

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2019 – The Year That Was

2019 was a year of unexpected changes, but also one where a path has begun to define itself from some of the diversions.

January

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.

February

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.

March

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!

April

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

May was a quiet month for gigs but on the plus side, ManCave Beach (seen below) was finally cemented over and recording could resume.

June

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

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.

August

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.

September

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.

October

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

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.

December

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.

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Image may contain: textThe 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.

TBD…

 

In the meantime, wishing you my few and faithful reader to be well for 2020. Happy New Year!

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Seasonal Greetings

This last Saturday and Sunday saw me attend two seasonally tagged events.

The first was the release for Tyler Ellis’ Winter EP at the Black Swan, rounding out his 21-song round of songs celebrating the temperate zone seasons. Tyler and the Eddy Line were in fine form and delivered a very enjoyable evening.

Sunday afternoon marked the 7th annual Charlie Brown Christmas at Relish Bar and Grill, with Alan Zemaitis on piano, Kyle Sullivan on drums and Jesse Boxer-Meyrowitz on double bass reprising the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio album, complete with youth singers. This was a huge hit for Relish, with four sold out shows that day. Here’s a bit for your listening pleasure.

Until next time, be well!

Hunkering Down

What better than a cozy tracking session on a snowy and blustery day?!

Fraz Milne and Chris Bender were in to lay down drums on two of the former’s new songs and the results sound already really good. I leave it to Fraz to reveal when these will see the release light of day.

Going rather well, I think.

If you want to see me do something different, pop in to Relish Bar and Grill this Tuesday December 3, 2019, when I will be mixing the Django Jazz Band at 7pm.

Hot jazz, great food and a wide variety of drinks! What could be better on a cold winter evening?

Until then, be well!

In Praise of Small Spaces

Another late post, due to a family emergency. Sorted for now…

Last week, I caught the show at the Dock on Queen that featured Ryan Schmidt, with Isaak Bonk on harmonica, and Timothy Sheldon.

It was probably the best I’ve seen both Ryan and Tim perform. The harmonica was a perfect complement to Ryan slide guitar work and gritty vocals. Tim’s voice was in fine form and modulated perfectly to match the emotions of the songs. Super evening!

I’m looking forward to another opportunity to catch these fine performers.

The club itself is very conducive to an intimate vibe. I’ve played there a few times already myself and this show reminded me of how cozy it felt.

Perhaps they’ll have me back. TBC!

Until next week, be well!

Weekend Warrior part 2

My gums bleed when I floss. | Dr. Jim Ellis, DDS
Image courtesy of http://www.bestogdendentist.com

As mentioned the first part of this post, here is a song about “amateur” musicians, whatever that means.

There are still issues with it, and some edits and rewrites may be forthcoming, but the essence and gist are there. I hope you enjoy it.

I May Be Bad (But It Still Feels Good) © 2019 R. Pelletier/Félix and the Cats

 


Coming Up This Week

There is a great double bill coming up this Friday November 22, 2019 at the Dock On Queen featuring two great performers: Timothy Sheldon and Ryan Schmidt. It’s in my calendar and plans to attend. I hope you can join me.

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In the meantime, time to practise, practise, practise, practise, practise, practise*…

Be well!

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*listen to the recording!

Reset

An abbreviated post this week as I reset the blog to a better schedule. The midweek post day has not been as effective as hoped, both from publishing  and a readership points of view, so it’s back to Sundays.

Last week had a number of fun things happen, including a great matinee show at the Black Swan last Sunday (thanks to Omar Saab for being our guest, and to Kevin and Jen for always great sound) and an encore attendance of a Menage show at the Piston.

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FatC with Omar Saab!

I had a chance to speak briefly with the host of the Indie Night show (5 years running), and we exchanged experiences about running a weeknight event. All I can say is that the effort put forth by clubs like the Piston and many others in the city to promote independent artists are highly appreciated.

Unless something unplanned-for comes up, the Cats will be focusing on recording for the next while. Our next show is back at the Black Swan on Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 4 to 8 with special guest Chris Scian. Please mark you calendars accordingly!

Until next week, be well!

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Frazzmatazz

As written about over a week ago (yes, I know…) Fraz Milne and Fintan McEnroe opened for us at the Linsmore and I plugged his original band show on the following Thursday. I forgot to include the photos for that show, including one of James Clark and Tim Gall. If you missed both, Fraz and Fintan are back at Sauce this time on November 9 from 4-7 pm.

James Clark and Tim Gall
Fraz Milne, Chris Bender and Jay Vyas

Upgrades

For gear wonks out there: I was away earlier this week which partly explains the tardiness of this post. While visiting daddy-o in Rivière-du-Loup, I popped in to Métronomie, a local music store, and saw a lovely set of Lace pickups (nothing to do with intimate apparel) being sold by one of the employees at an irresistible price. Installed pronto and amazing improvement in the old Félix Télécasteur. I hope to show this off on November 3. More about that on the next post.

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Lace TN-100 on the neck and T-150 on the bridge.

Until then, be well!

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Kid Kodak

When I was young, someone who enjoyed taking pictures was referred to jocularly in French as Kid Kodak. One such kid is Ian Sinclair. Ian and I go way back, having played in a few bands, some more ill-fated than others, but I never lost my respect for Ian as a music fan and dedicated player. Ian also excels at photography, hence the title of this blog, and his pictures literally shine with his love of the subject. you can check out his pictures on his Facebook feed. Well worth it!

So it was a thrill to have him take pictures at our gig this past September, which I alluded to in the follow up blog to that event. Ian and I met recently and he passed on a DVD of more shots from that evening, some of my faves I am sharing with you today.

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The happy cats

 

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Out and About

This past Tuesday, the Cats played the Linsmore with the FortNights and Phillip Vonesh and the Spare Parts. It was a great show for all involved. Thanks for the support!

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Fintan McEnroe and Fraz Milne: the FortNights
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Phillip Vonesh and the Spare Parts

Last night I returned to the Linsmore to catch more of the aforementioned Fraz, this time with his original trio featuring Jay Vyas on bass and Chris Bender (yes, that guy!) on drums. Opening was one of my favourite pop songwriters, James Clark who played a great acoustic set with Tim Gall on bass. A packed house and great music all night!

Until next time, be well!

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