The ManCave drum isolation booth work is advancing slowly but surely. That and a combination of other personal and familiar obligations have made the domicile chaotic. Hopefully February will turn out to be Tidy Up month.
The ceiling bulkhead around the heating duct is done, and Mrs. FatC had the brilliant notion to make the entire front portion of the iso booth wall hinge out, so that is what is currently being planned once the full ceiling is installed. A few necessary supplies are also waiting installation.
Past and Future Gigs
A big thank you to the enthusiastic fans who came out to the Linsmore Tavern last Tuesday to support the Cats and our stage companions Mud Lust and the Short Walk, who pleasantly surprised everyone with a full-band set instead of a solo performance, and Level Ground who made their auspicious debut. As always, I am so fortunate to have the fab NeMo on bass and the awesome Chris Bender on the kit.
In case you missed some of the social media posts, Félix & the Cats will be performing a featured mini-set this Wednesday at TonyO’s Jammers event at the Salty Dog. This week, it’s Beatles vs Stones night, so we might even stick around for some covers. Should be a fun night starting at 8:30!
Our return to Relish is only a month away (Saturday March 2 9:30 – 11:30). It’s always great to go back to where it all started and everything changed. For sure I’ll be playing the Relish ode that night.
I have just recently been booked for a solo acoustic set at Might & Main (formerly The Grinder) at the end of March. Hopefully that should be lots of heads-up to add to your calendar. It’s at a pleasant 12-1 pm time slot so consider coming down for a set of my wacky originals and a great cup of coffee.
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This coming Tuesday has the Cats back on stage at the Linsmore for Indie Tuesdays, this time with former ABC Songcircle guest Ryan Schmidt, aka Mud Lust and the Short Walk opening at 8, then FatC at 9, and headlining at 10, a newly christened band called Level Ground, formerly Shank Street Social. It promises to be an evening of variety and all-original goodness.
After a former band went its separate ways, Ryan Schmidt moved to Toronto from Alcona, ON, enticed by the big city lights and easy access to the many open stages on which to play each week. He fell in love with thrill of playing his guitar for appreciative audiences, and the freedom of writing and performing his own material, so much so that he rearranged his life to do it more.
Ryan thrives in gritty, swampy blues. His songs are grounded in a lyrical honesty while speaking the language of the blues in a new and original voice, with strong images and stories of hurt and frustration. The music sits in solid grooves and soars to his growling slide guitar. Ryan has recently released his first album. Mud Lust and the Short Walk.
Level Ground is the new band that features the writing of lead singer/guitarist James Légère, with Gordon McKinnon on keyboards, Bill Légère AND Mark Marchesich on drums and percussion (mmm! this might get funky!), and Robin Latimer on bass and vocals.
Below is one of James’ songs with the previous simpler 3-piece incarnation of the band. I can’t wait to hear his soulful tunes with the addition of keys and the double percussion!
The studio is currently totally topsy-turvy as I’ve decided to build a drum isolation room before my neighbours complain about the racket. The floor is carpet tile on particle board foam-backed panels, all floating on heavy rubber padding. Hopefully that will cut down the kick drum transmission. The walls and ceilings will be insulated with acoustic insulation, and probably covered with wood slats rather than drywall, but that is something to figure out later. A plexiglas panel will be included to minimize claustrophobia. More as the project advances.
Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you at the Linsmore this Tuesday!
No, 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.
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 Hauberplaying 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.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that the topic of access to shows and artist compensation has come up before. This week, a post on Facebook that I shared brought the subject up again.
From the comments received, and other posts I’ve read, it appears some musicians have had disappointing club gigs and feelings towards clubs that are to say the least ambivalent. Everyone’s experience will vary of course.
Clearly the relationship between musicians and clubs is mutualistic where both have to win for the “organism” to thrive. Without clubs, musicians would have far fewer places to perform, and without musicians, clubs would have far less to feature on their stages. And for both, there are easier ways to make money, so never doubt that it’s being done for the love of music.
The win-win connection goes beyond musician-club, and in fact 3-sided, as the audience benefits from entertainment, ultimately (and hopefully) paying for the music AND (usually) the food, drinks and service at clubs.
It makes sense to let the patrons know of the terms under which musicians are performing (they may be sympathetic but are not telepathic) and kindly encourage them to contribute something back to the relationship.
This week was highlighted by a happy return to the ManCave for a great session with Sal Indigo aka Salabama.
He and drummer and FatC member Chris Bender came in this past Thursday to lay down bed tracks for four of Sal’s tunes live off the floor. Sal played a Les Paul tuned in A, though only a compressor into my Blues Junior set up in the bathroom around the corner and dialled up pretty loud.
Chris played though the house drum kit, which according to Sal was once used by Downchild Blues Band. It certainly has that vintage sound.
I added bass independently and did the preliminary mixing.
I was particularly impressed by how Sal and Chris were able to get the songs down with very few takes, which captured the fun and energy of the performances.
The song featured here was inspired by a comment made to Sal about the grittiness and authenticity of Memphis, and the importance of “tone” as per the Miles Davis quote in the final verse.
This blog post is coming to you from grey and cool Niagara Falls Ontario where the missus and I spent a few days unwinding after a fulfilling but tiring 2-month stint back in the workforce. I am quite happy to be back to retirement mode and hope to be able to get the recording project in full swing after the holidays.
While here, we caught my favourite cover band, The Lonely Hearts, at the 365 Club which is the bar nested deep within the almost hallucinogenic environment of the Fallsview Casino. People here certainly know how to cut loose.
The band put on a great show for an enthusiastic and sometimes exuberant audience.
Thanks to friends and family who came to the Duke Live this past Tuesday to catch us and Monkey Fightin’ Snakes. It was our best show to date! Neil, Chris and I want to thank MFS and specifically Matthew Davies for the opportunity to open for them. Thanks as well to the staff and sound tech at the club for taking such good care of us. Hope we can do it again.
Before getting deeply into the subject of this week’s post, just a quick report on the Félix & the Cats show at The Dock on Queen this past Friday. It was a fun night for all. A big thanks to supporters who came out and a special recognition to Tim, the Dock’s most loyal music fan! Thanks as well to the club for always making us feel welcome.
The really exciting news is that we are slated to open for The Monkey Fightin’ Snakes on Tuesday December 18 at the Duke Live! This is a huge thrill and honour for FatC to be on the same stage as the MFS in all their awesome simian and reptilian goodness, and will be our first time at the Duke! If you don’t know Monkey Fighting’ Snakes, here is some background gleaned from their site.
The Monkey Fightin’ Snakes are a blues rock band from Toronto. This band is the brainchild of singer songwriter Matthew Davies. Their blues sound is little bit jamband-pop, a little world-folk-twang.
Think Eddie Vedder with Neil Finn and Tom Waits.
The key members are: Matthew Davies – Guitar, Dobro, Banjo, Ukelele, Pedal Steel, Lead Vocals and Songs Dave Stoyles – Bass, Guitar, Button Box, Souzaphone, Trombone and Backing Vocals Daniel Szabo – Drums, Backing Vocals, Guitar Eric Szabo – Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Bass Darren Atkinson – Drums, Percussion, Mayhem, Backing Vocals
Monkey Fightin’ Snakes put out their first album of original music “Finish What You Star” in 2014, produced by multi Juno Award winning producer Michael Philip Wojewoda. Recorded live off the floor (through an old Neve desk to 2” tape, no click track, lead vocals and guitar solos captured within the take), the album featured 9 original songs written by singer and guitarist Matthew Davies. After extensive touring, the band returned to the studio to record “Broken Off-Switch” in 2017, this time with 14 tracks also penned by Davies. 2018 saw the arrival of brothers Eric and Daniel Szabo, and much new writing in preparation for the third album.
For a taste of MFS, check out the video below and click over to their YouTube channel.
I hope you can make it out to catch us on the 18th at the Duke, and if not already a fan, become one of Monkey Fightin’ Snakes! Until then, be well!
Most of the musicians I have written about are people I have encountered at various shows and open mics in the city, but occasionally, these encounters take place in another context. Such was the case recently when I met two great artists at work, in an entirely unrelated context.
Even more serendipitously, just this week, a singer-songwriter best known as Ditt happened into the front office on school business, and as I overheard him talking about music with the staff there, I had to find out more. Starting off as a drummer at a young age, then touring as tech support with his brother all over Ontario and Quebec for the band Swan led him to dedicating himself to being a musician. Building on his expertise on drums, he taught himself the guitars and began writing his own songs.
Ditt wrote, sang, produced and played on his début CD A Boy Can Dream, with Jake Kolodziej engineering. He exemplifies the kind of dedication and enthusiasm it takes to persist in the music business these days and I wish him well!
This Friday, Félix & the Cats are back again at the Dock on Queen, one of our favourite little places to perform. Come on down for a civilized 8:30 start and stick around for the evening. The guys in the band have asked me to feature the quieter acoustic material in set one, the rock it up for the next two, so you can adjust your stay to taste. Great beer too!