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!

By the Numbers

Do The Numbers Stack Up For Property Pensions? - iExpats

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.

I hope you enjoy SevenUp ©2020 R. Pelletier/Félix&theCats

Be safe and be well!

Fellow Travellers – Part 9

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!

They had me at castanets!

Be safe and be well!

Pressure Treated

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.

Here is the video. I hope it makes you feel good!

Be well and safe!

Coolio!

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.

Time for a refreshing beverage to match! Natch!

I have an extension cord somewhere…

Be safe, be well!

Ear, Ear!

Over the last week or so, I have engaged in exercising the one element that can improve my mixes in the old ManCave Studio.

Thanks to a suggestion by respected producer and excellent communicator Warren Huart on his brilliant YouTube channel called Produce Like a Pro, I subscribed to SoundGym, a pay-for-use website that lets users develop audio acuity through games that test a variety of skills all related to recording, mixing and production.

For instance, identifying the relative levels of instruments in a mix, or which frequency is bested in a sample, and so on. The result is less time guessing what to do to fix and improve recordings, as well as more confidence.

I am finding both very useful. Check them out – there is a free trial on SoundGym so you don’t have to immediately commit.

Time for my daily SoundGym exercise…

Be well!

Ivory Towers

Social isolation has led to many encabané songwriters composing pandemic-themes odes, including Dan Boggs’ excellent Bunker Town featured here. As promised a few posts back, here is mine.

Thanks to Neil Morris (bass) and Chris Bender (drums and backing vocals) for playing on it and feedback. Hope you like it!

So This Is a Problem?

IMG_2765.jpg

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!

Bunker Town News

Every so often, a subject for this blog luckily falls in my lap. This is the case this week.

Isolation has meant that I’ve had to learn to work physically distanced from the rest of the band, so we have worked out technological solutions, including all of us set up for home recording. By sending each other files, we can play along to previously recorded bits and then sum them up for a finished product.

Good friend and Relish regular Dan Boggs wrote a pandemic ode, and recorded it solo on his computer (phone?). When I saw it, I could not resist the idea of fleshing it out with a full band arrangement.

Unknown.jpgBut first, a few words about Dan.

Dan Boggs has performed many, many times at Relish (and probably other places too, but that’s where I know him from). His songwriting is original in the truest sense of the word, with subject matter often out-there (surgical anaesthetic?), and clever crafting of the lyrics. His latest is called Bunker Town and speaks to the isolation we all feel. I have included a before and after for your enjoyment. On the full band version, Chris Bender plays drums and piano, Neil Morris plays bass, and I added the electric guitars, then mixed the whole thing. It was a lot of fun to do.

 

There is a rumour that a compilation of locally written pandemic anthems may surface in the future. This song should certainly be part of that.

Be safe and be well!