August 2018

I’m a guitar nerd. There’s no way around it. I have a sizeable collection of acoustic guitars of various shapes and sizes that keep me inspired on a rotating basis. I’m constantly experimenting with new tunings, trying out new guitar gadgets, or just noodling for hours in front of the television. Almost every song I’ve ever written has come from messing around on a guitar until an idea presents itself. This month’s song is certainly no exception.

Last Day At Cathy’s is the first instrumental I have done on this year’s project, though you may remember that the 2011 project featured two (Autumn On Sherbrooke St. and Sleeping Molly). The song was born out of spending time with my 2006 Avalon AS100ce that I had recently outfitted with medium gauge strings on the recommendation of my friend, Bill Preeper. It is in a DADGAD tuning with a Kyser Open G capo on the fourth fret, effectively turning the tuning into DAF#BF#D (a modified D6). I recorded a snippet of improvised fingerings and found a melody that I used as the main theme of the tune. From there I arranged the piece and set to work on the hardest part, trying to play it perfectly.

I attempted to play the piece with finger picks as the tone of flesh on the strings (how I usually play)
wasn’t giving me the shimmer that a piece of this nature called for. It became apparent that the learning curve for finger picks was too steep for the few days I had left to record the song and decided to have my daughter put on some gel nails for me. While they looked a little odd alongside my other chewed-to-a-stub nails, they worked like a charm.

I recorded the song through a Blue Spark condensor microphone directly into my usual Boss BR800. After several takes, I decided on the best of the bunch and that is what I present to you this month. Here are a few observations from the process:

– Recording acoustic guitar is hard. I did my best but I can certainly appreciate the sound of a well mic’d acoustic guitar a little more after this
– Microphones are unforgiving. I was struck at the gaps in my playing upon playback (and maybe a little embarrassed). I suppose that’s what I like about recordings though, they’re a snapshot of where we are at a certain time in our lives.
– Loud can be gentle. Maybe my biggest takeaway from this process was the realization that you don’t have to get quiet to make a gentle sound. That might sound obvious to some but for me, that was a real eye-opener.

The title of this song is in reference to a big change in the life of my little boy. He starts kindergarten this year and recently left his daycare (Cathy’s) where he went every day for the past four years.

I hope you’ll enjoy

Last Day at Cathy’s
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

My sincerest gratitude to Sean Boyer for mixing the song.

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to


My little girl got married this month! I could not be more proud of her and am over the moon with the young woman she’s become. For our father/daughter dance I decided to record a song I wrote for her when she was only 3 years old. I enlisted some of my favourite musicians to play on the song with me, and earlier this month we assembled at my friend Bill Preeper’s studio, Bonnett House, to record it.

This song features Bill Preeper on electric guitars, Sandy MacKay on double bass and piano, Jessica Rhaye on harmony vocals, as well as myself on acoustic guitar, drums and vocals. A 7 year old Ashley even makes an appearance at the end of the song.

I’m extremely grateful to my friends for doing this with me and was so excited to get to dance with my daughter to it on her big day.

This one is for Ashley Italia Marie Charlton….enjoy!

How Do I Write A Song

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *