Go Pro

Some recent social media posts have got me thinking more deeply about the oft-read rant regarding “amateur” musicians “stealing professional” jobs. It is the last quoted word that got me curious.

What does it mean to be a “professional musician”?

At the far end of the scale, it’s obvious: musicians who earn their entire livelihood from playing music. Easy enough!

But what about, say, someone who works in a music store and plays shows in the evenings and on weekends? Does the day job disqualify that person from the professional ranks or is working in a music store a mitigating factor?

Okay, let’s take that further. What about someone who work instead as a server in a live music venue? Does the place of day employ shield a musician from being ranked amateur? What if he/she/they work in a doughnut shop?

Is it a question of how many hours performed vs. the day job?

Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong…could it be a question of expertise or raw talent? Is it attitude and the ability to please an audience? Is it originality?

I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear back from you, dear readers. Just leave a comment if you wish.


FatC Relish Sept 21.jpgThis Saturday the Cats Will Play

After a good and hot rehearsal last night working through the four new tunes we hope to launch, the Cats are raring to go this Saturday at Relish 2.0. We kick off at 9:30, but please come early for the food and former ABC Songcircle guest One-Eyed Oracle (aka Boris Buhot) playing from 7 to 9.

Make it a full evening of live entertainment!

 

 

 

Be there and be well!

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2.0

The band is very excited to be back for the first time (?) at the new Relish 2.0 at 511 Danforth this coming September 21, 2019.

We hope to introduce a few new songs that I have tried out at the open mic and one world première, so it should be a special evening on all counts. You can subscribe to the band’s event calendar here, should you wish to be kept up to date while avoiding social media overload.

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Be well!

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Swampy

Again, just a short update this week. The Salabama show at Relish 2.0 went great, thanks to solid playing by Sal himself, Tony Oldland on bass and Paul Brennan on drums. Special thanks to the brilliant Sean McAuley on harmonica too, and to Rick Henry for a superb mixing job and for having the nerve to tell me to turn down! It’s always a fun privilege to play with Sal and have the chance to try out live the arrangements we’ve worked out in the studio sessions at ManCave. Here’s a sample courtesy of Dave Correia with one of Sal’s originals, Swamp Chickin.


Upcoming Gigs

TheCats have been on low-profile for most of the summer, but a few shows are beginning to line up for the fall. September 21 will be our first time at Relish 2.0, then October 15 at the Linsmore Tavern with special guests, and finally (so far) a Sunday matinee at the Black Swan with special guest Omar Saab of the Lonely Hearts.

That’s all for this week!

Be well!

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Risky Business

The lure of things new, shiny and tenuously linked has always been irresistible for me. This week’s surprise last-minute show at the Linsmore (this Tuesday, June 11, 2019 – 10 pm, for those interested) is a case in point. Not content to stir the pot by subbing in the amazing Omar Saab, lead singer of the Lonely Hearts, for his live debut on bass, as NeMo had a previous commitment, I have also decided to try out a new rig, shown below.

Why not!

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Traynor Quarter Horse 25-watt pedal/amp, the mini pedalboard, Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire guitar and Rexx single-12 speaker cabinet.

Now, these are (almost) all components I have used before, but never in this combination. The binding characteristics is that 3 of the 4 parts of the rig spark joy (those who have seen the clutter in the ManCave may laugh at the irony). All are connected to my past career at Yorkville Sound. The obvious link is the Traynor Quarter Horse which I just picked up this week as the sale price was irresistible (see the pattern?). I was very impressed with the sound right out of the box, particularly when paired with the Talbo, a product line Yorkville distributed in the 80s, and the Rexx speaker, designed by Yorkville (again) alumnus George Krampera. I’ll let you know next week how it all works out.

Also performing that evening will be Ian Alexander Robson at 8:00 PM and Dingo at 9:00 PM. The Facebook event link is here.

So, I do hope you will be there to support live music. Plus the beer is cheap!


Coming Soon

On Sunday June 23, The Cats will team up will Salabama (Sal Indigo) for a special matinee show from 4 to 8 at the Black Swan. More details as we near the date.

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Be well!

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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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A Guy Walks Into a Music Store…

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 FrontNo, the title is not a setup to a joke. While picking up an accessory this past week at the Long and McQuade Pro location, an nice man overheard me asking the staff about purchasing the Sennheiser MK4 I am currently renting. Turns out Dave Dysart represents an intriguingly clever microphone line from a company called Townsend Labs out of California. He gave me a run down on the mic and related software and how it functions. There is a great review of it at the Sound On Sound site, and after the talk and the read, the Townsend Lab Sphere L22 is definitely on my wish list for the ManCave Studio.

After chatting about mics for a while, other tangential discussions revealed that we knew quite a few people in common, which I won’t name drop at this time. It also interestingly turned out Dave plays with the band UIC, a punk and garage rock band from Exeter, Ontario, formed in June 1982. 

Photo from the Exeter Lakeshore Times-Advance

The band played locally, then made the move to Toronto in 1984. They found acclaim in the city’s indie scene, playing with other garage faves like The Gruesomes, and Deja Voodoo, and opening for acts like Teenage Head, The Dead Milkmen and The Goo Goo Dolls. U.I.C.’s first recording, Our Garage, was released in 1986. Followed a number of cross-Canada tours and a second album Live Like Ninety, featuring a live set at Lee’s Palace late in 1988. After a number of personal changes, the band broke up in 1995, only to recently reform with Dave now taking up guitar duties and Andy Hauber playing bass. Band biography here. Take a look/listen to this recording of the band live! UIC are playing The Horseshoe Tavern on March 23, 2019.

And speaking of live, Félix & the Cats will be playing its first 2019 show at the Linsmore Tavern on Tuesday January 22, with the gritty and real Ryan Schmidt opening and a cool new band (to me) called Level Ground (formerly known as Shank Street Social) headlining. Much more on these fine performers in next week’s blog.

Until then, be well!

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Screen Gems

It’s been a harrowing week for a lot of reasons, so it came an uplifting change to go to the movies last night to catch Bohemian Rhapsody. The film is not perfect (plenty of anachronisms and factual inaccuracies if IMDB is to be believed) but definitely good show and the performances are excellent, particularly capturing the band’s physical presence on stage. It also inspired this week’s theme.

IMG_0166Way back, the ABC Songwriters’ Circle, show #3 (November 7, 2017) had three uniquely talented musicians on stage: Tyler Ellis, m.e. law, and Jessica Stuart. A brief summary of the evening is in the blog that followed the show.

Just recently, a film has been released that documents Jessica’s search for a childhood friend when she lived in Japan. Produced by Loud Roar Productions in conjunction with CBC Docs, Finding Fukue is a beautifully realized and inspiring 20-minute film that celebrates how true friendship can bridge both distance and time. Jessica is featured of course, but so is her music in the doc’s soundtrack. I have embedded Finding Fukue below and encourage you to watch.

Thanks for watching!

Jessica Stuart will next be performing at the Dakota Tavern for a series called ‘Therapy’ (usually the first Thursday of the month), but this time on Wednesday, December 5, featuring The Jessica Stuart Few (including koto), with Moves and Montréal group Gabi Tomé.

m.e. law has shows scheduled for early 2019, which I hope to update you with as details are confirmed.

Tyler Ellis is performing with his band the Eddy Line and special guests on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at Dora Keogh.

All are well worth catching, Maybe I’ll see you there. Be well!

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