The Beatles once opened for the legendary Felix Cavaliere and the Young Rascals and he has dozens of behind the scenes stories to tell about music from the 60’s all the way to present day. Remember, “Groovin,” “Beautiful Morning,” “People Got to Be Free,” and “Good Lovin?”

Cirina Catania, host of OWC RADiO interviews Felix Cavaliere, the captivating American music producer, songwriter and performer who hasn’t stopped creating classic songs and whose career is still “new” after over 50 years.

We also review OWC’s News of the Week…and there is a lot of news this week: A ground-breaking new Envoy Express, the just released award-winning Thunderbay Flex 8 and a version of SoftRAID for Windows.

For legendary performer, Felix Cavaliere, making people feel good is engrained into his every day world. He has numeroous accolades, including inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and Grammy Hall of Fame.

Few artists can claim they defined a generation; FELIX CAVALIERE did. He continues to remind us to keep listening for joy and the world’s beauty.

The classically trained pianist, born in Pelham, New York, idolized Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cook. Felix Caveliere embraced the Hammond Organ and pioneered a fresh, rock and roll sound and he never stopped to look back.

(Photo credit: Leon Volskis)

“There is a feeling you get, especially when you’re performing with other musicians, and there’s a magical ingredient that comes in and crosses all nationalities and cultures. That has nothing to do with record sales. It happens when the audiences get what we do. They feel it. And we do to. Now, if we don’t feel it, then we should stop doing this. But I’m going to do this as long as I can.”

(Felix Cavaliere)

For more information about our amazing sponsor, Other World Computing, go to MacSales.com or OWCDigital.com, where you’ll find hardware and software solutions and tutorial videos that will get you up and running in no time.

For more about our host, filmmaker, tech maven and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Cirina Catania, visit cirinacatania.com.

If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and tell all your friends about us! We love our listeners. And, if you have ideas for segments, write to OWCRadio@catania.us. Cirina is always up for new ideas!


In This Episode

  • 05:42 – Cirina introduces Felix Cavaliere, a singer, songwriter, record producer, and musician. He has numerous accolades, including inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and Grammy Hall of Fame.
  • 10:07 – Felix shares the names of today’s Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals band members.
  • 15:00 – Cirina describes how blessed Felix is because of what he can do with music and how far he has come. He has made an impact on many generations.
  • 19:35 – Felix tells the story of how he insisted on producing the song, “People Got to Be Free,” even though the record company did not want to release it.
  • 24:45 – Felix shares the story of how The Young Rascals were discovered at a place called The Barge when he was in his early twenties.
  • 28:40 – Felix talks about how The Young Rascals moved to a new record company and how things have changed in the group, as per Felix it was a significant disruption.
  • 33:13 – Felix shares how Steven Van Zandt got his role in the TV series, The Sopranos, because of his speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • 37:43 – Felix describes Martin Luther King’s Memorial Fund as one of the best shows he has ever been on. He met some of the greatest artists of all time.
  • 43:01 – Cirina talks about being an optimist during this pandemic. She discusses how we will all come together again.
  • 46:15 – Visit Felix Cavaliere’s website, felixcavalieremusic.com, to stay updated in Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals’ news and events. 

Jump to Links and Resources


Transcript

On this episode of OWC Radio, I’m speaking with Felix Cavaliere, who you know from the 60s, the group The Young Rascals currently, he’s touring with Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, but some of his songs are absolutely legendary. We’re going to talk with him about his 50-year career, and falling in love and fighting for what’s right in the 60s. This is a man who has done so much for the music in our country that he is in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter Hall of Fame, The Vocal group Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame. And I was very lucky to pull him aside and spend some time with him. So I think you’ll enjoy this. 

But in the meantime, we have lots of news. OWC announced this week the first-ever Thunderbolt 3 certified bus-powered portable storage solution. It’s an enclosure called the OWC Envoy Express, and I asked Larry O’Connor about it.

Larry O’Connor: It allows you to use any M.2 2280 NVMe SSD of your choosing, be a thunderbolt 3 on a Mac or PC. And since Thunderbolt has been out, including Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2, there has never been a bus-powered kit that a user could purchase and add their own drives. This is the first time ever that you can use any existing drive, any future drive, any M.2 2280 of your choosing in a bus-powered Thunderbolt enclosure. On top of everything else, it’s also three times faster than the fastest USB 3 enclosure solution and is 50% faster than the fastest Thunderbolt-compatible USB type-C 3.1 Gen 2 solution enclosure. So it’s a really great option for folks who want the reliability of a certified solution that operates over Thunderbolt and that benefit of that higher Thunderbolt performance ever since the beginning of Thunderbolt. Now people have been clamoring for these bus-powered kits, and we, of course, provide a wide variety of desktop solutions for adding your own drive, whether it be an SSD or a hard drive or even NVMe SSDs. But people have long been waiting for a bus-powered zero gigabyte kit, and that strongly drove our desire and our reasoning for bringing this out there. And this comes by means of just the great team that we’ve got now in Europe in the US and in Taipei, coordinating both the product development direction as well as the engineering team, which is based now and primarily in Taipei, close to where Intel and the chipset manufacturers are.

The Envoy Express is certified DIY, very easy, superfast, convenient, and it comes ready to go with the 10.2-inch Thunderbolt 3 cable. It’s tiny, it’s shorter than a ballpoint pen and weighs only 3.3 ounces with the drive. It’s silent so you can edit right next to it, it’s rugged, and I love that it comes with the back of the laptop screen slide mount so you can just mount it to the back of your laptop. And because it’s bus-powered, you don’t have cords running everywhere. And then it comes with the worry-free two year OWC limited warranty. Check it out on macsales.com. In other news, OWC announced that they are now releasing SoftRAID Lite for Windows. Those of you who are familiar with the Mac version and who also work on Windows will be very, very pleased to know this. Go to software.owc.digital.com and learn more about SoftRAID Lite. Intel this week also announced Thunderbolt 4 and a lot of people are very curious about what that’s going to mean this is a very significant move forward, go to blog.macsales.com and as is often the case they have a very detailed breakdown of Thunderbolt four, how it’s different and how it can help in your end to end solutions. 

Also, on Rocket Yard, you’ll find more information on OWC’s just recently shipping Thunderbay Flex 8. This is an amazing machine. It offers eight drive bays, and it supports a mix of SATA, SAS, U.2, NVMe drives up to 128 terabytes of storage capacity. So there are an amazing plethora of ports there’s two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C and two USB eight ports for device docking and charging so you can see your work with greater clarity and add an 8K display. This thing was really built from the ground up to help us address all the storage requirements of today moving into tomorrow. And there you have it for this week on OWC news. Go to Rocket Yard at blog.macsales.com, rummage around there, you’re gonna find answers to a lot of your questions. And now, let’s move into my interview with Felix Cavaliere. He’s amazing. Put your dancing shoes on, put your smile on, and let’s just have some fun with a classic, amazing musician.

This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I’m gonna have a really good time in the next few minutes talking with Felix Cavaliere. And I want to ask you, Felix, the Italian pronunciation would be ca·va·liè·re, right?

Absolutely.

But Americans call you Cavaliere?

If I’m lucky, down here, seriously, they stop at Cav. 

Oh, there you go. Felix Cav. 

They don’t even try it. But you say it correctly, you say it perfectly. And I’m not sure whether when they came over that, they changed the “i” to an “e” or something like that. I don’t know. But the only other person that really has in public helped me was John Sebastian, because John is Italian. I don’t know if you know that. 

No, I didn’t know that. 

John Sebastian Pugliese is his real name. 

Oh, that’s awesome. 

And he grew up in Florence, and he speaks perfect Italian. So when we did a TV show years ago, he pronounced it just like you did with the “iè·re” ca·va·liè·re. And it screwed everybody up because they can’t say that. I don’t know why it’s so easy.

It’s such a beautiful name. 

Well, thank you. 

Felix Cavaliere.

Felix Cavaliere.

I’m Cirina Elisa Maria Catania Georgietta. 

How beautiful. See, I’m the third in my family, just as an aside because Felix was born in his town near Naples, where my father’s family came from. So I’m the third. 

Wow, that’s wonderful. So you’re from Naples, my family’s from Catania in Sicily, and little towns outside of Catania. But we digress. I have so much to talk to you about. For many years you were what used to be called The Young Rascals. Now they’re The Rascals as we’re all growing up and You have a long history, which I’ve introduced the audience to you before we actually started recording here. But talk to me for a moment, and then we can backtrack as well. But talk to me for a moment. I think you just finished a new CD, a new album. Do you want to talk about that?

Yes. Well, while I was locked up here, I was able to start and almost complete a ten-song album. We came across an idea, five songs from the past that kind of inspired me, we rerecord it. And then we wrote five new songs to show sort of that influence. So it was really really a ball because first of all, you start off with five really good songs, it makes it a lot easier. And then writing is something that I really enjoy. To me, the creative process has always been probably the most exciting and interesting part of making music. So we had a really, really good time.

When you dive a little deeper into a spiritual world, you realize we’re all the same.

You’re so lucky you were classically trained. I know your mother pushed you into that. So tell me which five songs did you pick from the past?

Well, you probably know Spanish Harlem

Oh, yeah. 

Right. And because Ben E. King was a tremendous influence, he was a good friend. and then we also took a song called Mary Anne, and then we did higher and higher, which is a Jackie Wilson song. And we did Slip Away, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Yes, I am. I know all of these. This is my era you’re talking about.

Yes, ma’am. And then we did, maybe a little obscure to is called Searching for my Baby, which was a big hit in the south by this group called Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces. And literally, we almost reproduced them, and we didn’t copy them completely, but we came pretty close. And then we have five new ones in those genres, and I got a great band down here in Tennessee because that’s one thing we do have. We may not have Italian food, but we got good musicians.

Yeah, you do. Who’s in your group now?

I have guys who’ve been around for a while. I’ve Vinnie Centauro on drums, I’ve got Mike Severs on guitar, I’ve got this guy from New York, Benny Harrison, and I’ve got a bass player who kind of moves around John Howard. And they’re really, really good. They kind of grew up on the music from the 60s, and they certainly know all the different songs of that era as well. So we have a really good time, and if I keep saying this, it’s because we really have a good time.

Well, you’ve always been that way. I’ve been watching some of your shows from the good old days and you just really look like you enjoy what you do. Now that’s your job, obviously as a musician up on stage, but we can tell when somebody is really happy at what they do.

Of course, most of the people who I know who have lasted for one better word; they love it. If you don’t love it, I tell you what, don’t go near this business because it’s rough.

Yeah, it is tough. It’s very competitive. And there’s a whole business side to it that to kind of sometimes clashes with the creative. But back to these songs, how did you make the transition from the old analog to the digital way of doing things, and how did you record this in the time of Coronavirus?

Well, basically, the transition happened because, being a keyboard player, I was exposed to synthesizers pretty early, way back when. And synthesizers are pretty much digital, and they have digital kind of like components from the beginning. So I kind of got hip to that idea of so-called technology for, one of a better word, very early. Because when they started, the 60s are also a very creative time for a lot of things besides just the music. I mean, they were like these electronic inventions that came out of that era. Even like the videotape and the VHS, and all that stuff came out of that time. So, the people would literally bring those around for us to try. And in our case, there were two companies; ARP, which I think was a Massachusetts company, total digital technology, geniuses, and MOOC, which is a more familiar name. So they would bring these things in, and then it was up to us to learn them. Sometimes they would give us a little help, but there were no online tutorials because there was no online yet.

I know. Isn’t that amazing to think about? I can’t even imagine a world without it. I actually wish it would go away sometimes, to be honest with you.

So I became involved with it, and I just was fascinated by it. And I got five kids. I made sure all my kids were technically savvy because I knew this was going to happen. You can see it coming, you’re gonna have to learn this box, and some of them really took to it, some of them make a living from it, which is good. So I enjoy it. There’s good and bad. And my guru, I’ve studied for many years where he used to tell us, “There’s no such thing as good and bad,” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Take electricity, if you plug in your toaster, it’s good. If you plug in your finger, it’s bad.”

Who is your guru? I want to know who this person was.

Satchidananda, he changed my life. He kept me out of trouble. Basically, I come from a medical family, my father kind of told me and said, “Look, when you become a doctor, you’re a doctor your whole life. When you become a musician, you better keep making hit records, or you’re gone. If you don’t have a hit record for a year, people will think, ‘Who was that guy? What was his name? What was the name of that group?'” And that threw me because I realized, Oh, my God, there’s no platform for your legs here for your feet to be on the ground. This is a very shaky turf we’re on. And that’s when I met the guru. And he really helped me with that and a lot of other things to kind of retain a sort of a balance. It’s a difficult business, and it’s even more difficult now.

I was wondering how you kept the twinkle in your eyes after all these years, and I think this is wonderful because you’re passing this along to millions of people. And in our business, they say you’re only as good as your last song, or you’re only as good as your last film or like you said. But the good thing I was thinking about it this morning, and as I’m thinking about talking with you, I think you’re blessed because your music, every generation that’s come along in the last 50 years that you’ve been doing this, they all have an appreciation for it, and it’s still new. I mean, it really is because not just because the melodies are wonderful, because the themes are timely, again, when you think about the 60s, and what was happening in the 60s. And I’m wondering, and I don’t want to get too political, but I do believe that what we’re going through right now is somehow maybe a little dirty mirror, but it’s in some ways a mirror of what was happening in the 60s. And I wonder how far we’ve really come.

Exactly. Good question. We’re still fighting the same battle. As I said, it’s such a crazy, crazy world we’re in right now.

Years have gone by, and we're still fighting the same battle. It's such a crazy world we're in right now. Click To Tweet

Well, let’s talk about one song that, but there are so many songs I want to talk to you about, but one that comes to mind since we’re talking about the 60s is People Got to Be Free.

Absolutely.

Talk to me about that song and what that meant to you at the time and what it means to you now.

Well, basically, I was working very seriously for Robert Kennedy‘s candidacy, unlike today, we were pretty involved in those days, and we really thought we could change the world. We really thought we could bring peace to our planet. Growing up Italian in Westchester County, I really became very rebellious because of the way they treated my mom. I mean, it made me really angry. Not to go into it, but you know what I mean?

No, I understand my family got it, too. We were Sicilian.

It really made me mad. So I’ve always been on that side of things. And then when you get a little deeper involved, and you go into a spiritual world, you realize we’re all the same. We’re all the same, I mean, you go down to the molecular level, where are you? Anyway, I’ve always carried that with me throughout my life. So I’m working for Robert Kennedy, and I’m on vacation. I was on the island of Jamaica. And I was dating a girl, a woman who was there when he got assassinated. She was there, and she’s never been the same. I mean, she lost it. I mean, most of the people were there, that the trauma must have been; anyway, I flipped. Something happened, I just said, I gotta say something, that’s what came out. And I’m really proud to say it’s still relevant. 

It’s very relevant. And I hope a lot of people continue to play it and listen to it. Now, who wrote the melody, lyrics? Tell everybody about that. 

Yeah, I wrote most of that song. The partnership with Eddie at that time was really strained. I put that together, recorded it, and the record company didn’t want to release it.

Wow. Really? Now, was that Atlantic?

Yes. They didn’t want me to do it. They said, “Hey, why are you doing this?” and I said, “What do you mean? ‘Why am I doing this?’ What, am I just here to make money?” “Yes.”

Well, you know what record companies they don’t always understand. I mean, I remember fighting to get James Brown’s Living in America released as a single off the album. 

No kidding.

They didn’t want to release it.

Of course, not. 

I don’t even remember what song they wanted to put out first. So yeah, talk to me about record companies.

I got a friend who wrote a song called It’s Not the Money, It’s the Money.

Okay, so they didn’t want to release it. How did you finally talk them into doing it?

We had complete autonomy. When I went in there, I wanted to be in charge, and I wanted to be the producer. I didn’t want anybody telling us what to do, and we pretty much got that.

Well, but that was after Groovin’ came out, right?

No, the original deal, we had that deal. And we just were very blessed, as you say, because they took these kids in and gave us a shot, and they also gave us two geniuses to work within the studio. So God was watching very closely, and he put these two monster talents in the room with us. One was, was by the name of Tom Dowd. The other one was Arif Mardin, who was kind of like our George Martin. And let me tell you, it was impossible to make a bad record. It was impossible with the talent we had in that room. It was really like heaven making music, especially with Arif, because he was so talented. He has an idea, and he could expand on that idea to bring it into an orchestral level because he was trained that way. It was just magnificent. What happened is I would go to battle with Jerry Wexler, rest his soul, and he would get really pissed, he’d poppin nitroglycerin, yelling and screaming. But I was in charge, and we want this record out, and it became number one. It became number one in places that were oppressed, such as South Africa in those days, in Hong Kong, in Berlin. So it really meant a lot to me, really, it still does. 

I’m really happy that you’re there because the world needs more of this. We need positivity, and we need strength, we need. We just need love. 

The kids gotta get on the right track here.

Streaming has changed the music industry. Nobody buys because everyone downloads it. What does a musician make? Technically nothing.

Yeah, they do. They really do. I mean, back in the 60s, when you guys were just forming. I was actually living in France and Germany. And I remember when The Beatles came out, remember, the Beatles came out with Komm, gib mir Deine Hand which was, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and that was the days of Sergeant Pepper’s band, and you were in the United States and in the middle of everything. With songs like Groovin’, and A Girl Like You and I love It’s A Beautiful Morning.

The interesting thing is when I came out of college, just as a quick aside, I was asked to join a group in Germany as a matter of fact. We went to Frankfurt, and I think we also went to Sweden and the group that was opening for the band that was with one of The Beatles, and nobody had ever heard them. It was 64, and it was a long time ago. And that was my first experience. And in those days, Frankfurt was still bombed out, it wasn’t what it is now. And so it must have been interesting for you to be over there. 

Yeah, I went to high school in Europe, and you can still wander around places in Berlin and see bullet holes in the walls from the war. But I mean, I think that it was a magical time for music.

That was our Renaissance period as the French had with the art. There’s no question about it. Because of the creativity that came out of here, not only musically, but those years are still around. People still listen to it, that doesn’t happen. It was a long time ago.

I asked my kids, “Why do you listen to the music from the 60s?” they said, “Well, Mom, you and dad used to play them when we were growing up. So we kind of grew up with that.” They grew up with people like you and The Beatles and The Stones.

Which is cool, and they feel it. They feel that energy, because in my opinion, seriously, what happened is, when Woodstock came, it killed everything because the corporations got involved. Right after that, they realized that there’s a huge market out there. The demographic for the so-called baby boomers etc. was a big marketing public, and they got involved. And when the corporations get involved, the creativity takes the backseat, as you know. So that’s what happened to our industry. But of course, there’s always like these little beacons of God coming out that are just so talented you can’t push them aside. But for the most part, it’s money-oriented, like our politics. You buy your way in today, that’s what it is. Okay. That’s what’s happening. Okay, what are we going to do?

It's when the corporations got involved. Creativity took a backseat and affected the entire music industry. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk for a minute about the birth of Good Lovin’. Sorry, I can’t avoid some of these songs because they’re just too good.

Don’t worry about it. It’s interesting because when we started, the drinking age at that time was 21 in a metropolitan area, probably the whole country. And we were not allowed to play anything but what they call covers. So, in other words, if somebody has already put a record out, you’re covering it. The nightclub owners, they didn’t want to hear any of your songs, they just wanted to get the people out there on the dance floor. They just wanted to make them buy drinks, and they could care less. So they didn’t want anything but what they called top 40 or in my case covers. So what I used to do is we go to this town up in Westchester, which was a black town and buy records that I heard on the radio stations that were in the so-called RnB world, and I heard this song Good Lovin’. 

Now it was completely different; it was done like almost in a Latin kind of like, easy cha cha kind of thing. And I took it to the band, and we started playing it. From the first day that we played, people went nuts. Seriously, like you cannot get a better reaction to a song. Okay, so now you skip liking Atlantic Records coming to see these kids that we’re alone on the Hamptons, which is a place called The Barge. And that’s where we got discovered, it was out there. And the fellow that came out representing Atlantic Records, he heard it. He said, “Well, come on, let’s sign these guys,” and as I say, we did not have any originals at that time, per se, we were kind of like doing these covers. So that was one of the songs that we recorded, and it was exactly how we did it on stage, there was nothing changed. That’s really the story it became like and still is a beacon of people getting up and dancing and having a good time.

I can’t think of anything more fun. So you had a run after that to I’ve Been Lonely Too Long and Groovin’ and I’ve Been Lonely Too Long and A Girl Like You and A Beautiful Morning, I love that song, I used to sing that to my kids when they were growing up. 

That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what it was for, it was a joyous part of my life. Basically, at that time, I have all of those songs that you mentioned there, they were all written about this particular girl that I was madly in love with, madly in love, I couldn’t even see. And I’m writing these friggin songs, and it was just pouring out of you. Over the years, I’ve read about the different artists like Picasso. They all have this inspiration, and then all of a sudden, how can I be sure I said, “Man, what am I doing? This girl’s too young for me. What am I doing?” I woke up from the dream, but it was a great dream. Well, A Beautiful Morning was part of that dream because here we are number one records. We just had come off a Groovin’ or something like that. We were in Hawaii, which we were huge in Hawaii. I’m in love, the sun is shining, I said, “What are you kidding me? Are you serious? This is not bad man, let me tell you we gotta write a song and just pass this joy on,” because that’s what you were experiencing, this joy, that’s what I think people want.

So you went from Atlantic to then Columbia Records, right? And that kind of kicked off more of the jazz-influenced sounds or talk about that for a minute.

It was a major disruption, let’s put it like that. The group was tearing itself apart shortly, Internally. My ex-partner, writer, and companion, I don’t know what happened to him. He just was not a happy camper.

It’s a tough business.

It’s tough, especially the demands that were put on us. Do you know why we were such a great team? Because he was the dark side and I was the light side, we were perfect together. Let me tell you, he saw nothing but dirt, and I saw nothing but fun. We were a great team. So we’re sitting down at a table with a contract to go from Atlantic to Columbia, and he left, he quit at the signing.

Seriously?

Seriously, a lot of money on the table. And it was a big deal for us because see, Atlantic Records at that time, had only become an international corporation, maybe a year or two before we left, and that was when Zeppelin came in, and it became Warner Brothers. Now you’ve got an international base, whereas before we had a tough time in Europe because every country had a different record company. So it was getting robbed by everybody. Instead of one company, you got them all. So all of a sudden, Columbia was international.

Can we get into Sony? No, nevermind, we’re not gonna do that. I know. This is years later. Never mind. We’re not going to talk about any of that. But it’s one of the things that in looking back at your career and reading about you and listening to your music, you can be so proud that you are just still going strong. And you know what, your voice is amazing.

Thank God.

God gave you this voice that is still so strong. You’re just blessed with it. So what are you gonna do with it next? I mean, what do you think your purpose is?

I’m going to keep going. I really love making music, and as I say, now I got my computer so I can make new music and pass it on. It’s the same with some of the major painters and people like that. I mean, don’t stop them from creating because sometimes when they get older, they might be even better, don’t shut the door. And we really don’t have an outlet today, other than the internet, thank God. I hope that we can get our stuff out there, even Paul Simon, he just finished an album about a year ago, and he said, “Why am I doing this? Nobody buys it.” Nobody buys it because they got the streaming now, so everybody downloads it. What do you make? You make nothing. It’s a whole different world now. So you’ve got gotta be inspired somewhere else because it costs money to make a good record. 

Of course, it does. Well, we want you guys to all keep going because we need you. Let’s talk about some of the people like Steven Van Zandt, and you’ve had an ongoing relationship with him. How did it all start with him? Because I listened to the speech he gave when you were inducted into, you’re in four different halls of fame so forgive me I can’t remember exactly, I think it was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame he was hilarious.

Do you know the story behind that?

No, I want you to tell people the story.

First of all, Steve was very instrumental in getting us into the Hall of Fame, even nominated. See the problem is the nomination, that’s where the funny business goes on. See, we vote, but they nominate, nominations, of course, you’ve been in showbiz, I don’t have to tell you, the award shows and all that stuff. He helped us a lot, Phil Spector helped us a lot, Hudson Valley helped us a lot, people tried to get us just on the nomination. Anyway, when we did the actual thing, he was fantastic. That’s how he got his role in The Sopranos, that night. The producer, director David Chase, called him up and said, “I want you to audition for this thing I’m doing called The Soprano because of that speech.” Isn’t that cool?

Wow. I have to tell you, I laughed so hard, I think the neighbors must have heard me when he took his jacket off, and he had the white shirt with the short black tie.

And he said he had another half hour he was embarrassed to do it. He’s an interesting guy. It’s kind of like a good and bad situation too because we went to work with him to do a broadway thing with the group. I don’t know it’s so strange, like, here we are, four guys, three Italians, one French Canadian in The Rascals. I don’t know, and we just can’t seem to get along. 

Well, tours are tough.

Yeah, but there’s no excuse for that at our age. But Italians, oh, boy. “He didn’t dance with my wife when I was at the wedding.” “I’m not talking to them ever.” that kind of stupid.

Felix, I have cousins who are not speaking to someone in the older generation because they didn’t like the way they talked to them on the phone one day and it’s been like 30 years. Italians are emotional. But that emotional side of you is what makes you such an amazing musician, right?

Yeah. Well, I keep telling that to my wife, who’s not Italian. Because you’re saying, how did you keep the voice? Alright, you know how loud we talk, right? 

Yeah, of course. I keep saying I’m not yelling, I’m Italian.

My voice is always in training. It’s always getting used. It’s true. It never gets relaxed. 

The music industry is callous for sensitive human beings. You need to be both strong and resilient if you want to make it.

Do you have grandkids?

Yes.

Do you pinch them on the cheek?

Well, if they let me, yes. Nowadays, they think you’re molesting them when you touch them like that. 

Oh my god. 

Yeah, I got a beautiful family. I’m really lucky. I lost one of my girls. As a matter of fact, that’s how that thing happened with Van Zandt, and I forgot to mention that. She had breast cancer.

I’m so sorry.

So, she and her husband had a limo company, and they used to drive everybody Bruce Springsteen, U2, you name them. So my daughter calls me up, she says, “Dad, don’t freak out. I got a lump,” not even a week later, Van Zandt calls me up, out of the blue. And he said, “Bruce and I, we do this special charity for cancer. Would you consider getting back with the group? I said, “Oh my god, are you kidding me? Is somebody talking to me direct?” And I said yes. And it was good because we were able to at least get her the best medical that we could get. And number two, that’s what started that whole thing with Van Zandt and the group right there. So I gotta guess that it was supposed to happen. Great family.

We just lost somebody who was close to you.

Yeah, a lot of people like these people down here, John Prine, he got COVID. And a lot of our friends in New York have had this, the guys from the Letterman Show, Paul and his wife, they both had it pretty bad. It isn’t that bad in San Diego? It’s not that bad out there? 

No.

Good.

We’re okay. We’re okay here, actually. We’re very lucky. And did you meet Martin Luther King? Because you did at a fundraiser didn’t you?

No, I didn’t meet him. Basically, what happened was when he passed, now we were on Atlantic. And Atlantic did this big concert at Madison Square Garden, which was one of the best shows I’ve ever been in my life.

Why do you say that? I’m just curious.

The artists who were there like Aretha was there, Sonny & Cher were there, and Sam & Dave were there. It was an amazing show, it was great. And that’s one of the last times I saw Jimi Hendrix was at that show. That was fun, it was just a tribute, like a memorial.

You talked about also going to the Whisky a Go Go out west. Those were the days, right? The Whisky a Go Go, I remember sitting outside at the Whisky one night, and I got up to go to the ladies’ room. And I came back, and there had been a drive-by shooting, and there was a bullet hole on the back wall right by where my head would have been. 

Oh my god. 

I know. So you, you talk about divine intervention, right?

Oh, no doubt about it. Our whole life, we’ve been watched over. I believe that especially traveling around like a maniac like I have. And I’m happy to say I still feel that today, we’re in good shape here. We just gotta make it through this, so far knock on wood all my kids and my grandkids everybody seems to be alright. What are you gonna do? Like I say, what are you gonna do? They got this world, they got to get into, it’s a madhouse this world.

What makes you smile? When you think about what your purpose is, what comes to mind? And what makes you happy right now?

I have come to the conclusion that my music has been my purpose. So that’s fine with me, I have no problem with that. What makes me happy is family, if the family’s okay, then I’m okay. If the family’s not okay, then I’m not okay. It’s too much of an attachment we have in our Italian heritage. We’re too close, and we’re so worried about these kids. They’re going to be alright I really believe that, but they’re going to have a tough time. A lot tougher time than then than we had, and that’s something that we are concerned about. So what do we do? We try to educate them the best we can give them everything we can and keep our eye on them. I had twins, so it’s been pretty interesting.

I have concluded that my music has been my purpose. So that's fine with me, I have no problem with that. Click To Tweet

So when you think about young musicians nowadays, what would you like to tell them? If you could talk to them, what would you want to tell them about how important they are? They’re so important. And I would love to see a little bit more love and positivity out there. What would you tell them if you could talk to them?

Well, to be really serious about it. I moved down to Nashville to really immerse myself in the songwriting and producing. I think as far as being an artist, there’s a generation that is coming in. And what’s happened to that part of our industry is disgraceful because it’s almost disappeared because of the streaming. It’s just not there anymore, the publishing, I don’t know if it means anything anymore. Unless you’re Taylor Swift or you’re somebody that you know is going to sell a product. There are very few people like that, the rest of us, the rest of the people that are out there, and there’s not a lot of money coming in. Well, I would tell young artists, “Look, you want to have a family? Do you want to have kids? Pay attention, because this is not exactly the business where there’s oil around the corner you could dig for.” 

It’s very difficult now. And I don’t mean to discourage them, but I’m just saying, look, open your eyes, it’s not the pot of gold that was there before. And if you’re very fortunate, very fortunate, but you better be very, very talented. And you better have a lot of money behind you, because you’re not going to be able to get through unless you have money behind you. I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Now, of course, somebody who is Michael Jackson‘s level of talent, he’s always gonna make it. I mean, of course, I mean, that’s ridiculous. But how many people are at that level? Not many. So it’s difficult. And so that’s what I tell a young guy or young woman. And as far as a woman is concerned, I have a daughter who’s a phenomenal singer, and her name is Aria, we gave her the right name. 

Oh, wow. Yeah. 

And she tried it for a year in New York. When she came home, she said, “Dad, are you kidding me?” So now she’s got two kids, she’s got a nice husband. Get the hell out of this business. It’s very tough, very tough for sensitive human beings. On the other hand, I have a lot of friends that do it on the side. Do it on the side and make sure you have an income, because it’s really hard making all these people out of work now, with this pandemic, there all out of work. I mean, okay, I’ve been fortunate, but I mean, if you’re a crew member or a production guy, a lighting guy, good luck. There’s no work, so what are we going to do? Meanwhile, you got kids, their home, they want to eat, what are you going to do? It’s a tough business right now.

I am an eternal optimist. And I really believe we’re going to come out the other end, okay?

Oh, yeah, we’ll come out.

I think we’re going to be okay. And I think that water seeks its own level. And I do believe that there has to be a way because music is so important. What you do is so valuable, and so necessary that the powers that be the big guy in the sky is gotta make sure that it all comes together again. I really believe that. And I’m excited about your new CD. What’s it called? I didn’t ask you what it’s called.

I don’t even really have the name yet. I don’t know yet. But as I say, it’s the five new and the five old, and we’re gonna come up with something here, but it’s fun. We had a blast.

That’s good to hear.

We had so much fun writing new songs. And as I say, the guys that I work within my band are in the same place as making music and making love through your music. That’s how they are, that’s how they act, and it’s great because they’re good. I wish I had these guys in my old group let me tell you. They’re great guys, we’ve been together like 16-17 years, and the rest is we barely made five. 

Really? I thought it was longer than that. Wow. So you’ve been with these guys 16 years. I want to ask you before we go, Felix, for people who are new, who are not of our generation, the young kids like, what are you most proud of? And if you could pick one or two songs, what do you want them to listen to? And I’m going to finish the interview with a little snippet of one of your favorite songs that we can leave these young kids listening to.

I would send them first of all to A Beautiful Morning. I think that would be good. And second of all, The People Got to Be Free because they need that kind of encouragement. So if they know that some of the older folk believe like that, maybe that’ll help them out as far as getting their way through life. Because as I say, they’re going to be fine, these kids are so smart as you know. Their hearts are so pure, unless they’re tainted., they’re gonna be alright. It’s just in the meantime, getting there, it’s going to be a little rough for them. Just finding work, for example, going to college and there’s no job out there for you, what are you going to do? They’re gonna be okay, but they’re going to need some help from us, there’s no doubt about it. That’s how I feel we got to help them out. So that’s what we’re here for. 

I’m so happy to talk with you and so grateful for all of the wonderful things you’ve given to the world over the years with your career, and I’m excited that you have a new CD coming out. So we’ll be following the news on that.

Alright. Lovely speaking to you, dear. I really enjoyed it.

You too. Thank you so much. Bless you, keep up the good work, and we’ll be talking again, hopefully very soon.

Thank you, I appreciate you. Take care.

Take care. Bye.

Bye. 

And this is my favorite part of the show when I get to thank everybody that helped make it possible. First of all, Felix Cavaliere or as you guys know him, Felix Cav, thank you for your time. OWC CEO Larry O’Connor, President Jen Soulé and the marketing team of Chris Kooistra, Jennifer Myers, Mark Chaffee, Teddy Mazarin, our associate producer Simona in Lithuania, social media team all over the world, TSMA, our UK post-production team Gaston Barthelemy, and our post supervisor, Penny Scott Andrews. And Felix’s wonderful team who worked so closely with me to put this together, Melissa Kucharik, and the artist’s relations team of Randy Fuchs and Tanya Fuchs. And remember what I tell you guys, get up off your chair and go do something wonderful today. Have a great day till next time, this is Cirina Catania signing off.



Checklist

  1. Establish a creative process that can bring you to your flow state. When you’re in the zone, you tend to be more inspired to create art.
  2. Have fun while creating art. If it’s not something you love doing, you’re not going to stick to it for a long time.
  3. Stay updated with trends and consider your audience and fans’ feedback, as well. While your art is really up to you, it doesn’t hurt to listen to what your followers want.
  4. Dare to reinvent yourself, so you can continue to present fresh ideas to your audience. 
  5. List your sources of inspiration. Be sure to always refer to them whenever you feel stuck in your creative process.
  6. Keep creating art. Express yourself in the best way you know. 
  7. Consider giving back to your community as well. Join charity events where you can perform for a cause. 
  8. Be tough. The music industry is not a walk in the park. You need to be smart in making decisions and disciplined enough to work your way up. 
  9. Make sure you have a fallback when things don’t go as planned. The music industry can be unpredictable. It’s best to secure your and your family financially, first.
  10. Check out Felix Cavaliere’s website to get updates about his music.

ABOUT OWC

If you work in tech and haven’t heard about Other World Computing (OWC),  you’ve may have had your head in the sand. OWC, under the leadership of Larry O’Connor since he was 15 years old, has expanded to all corners of the world and works every day to create hardware that makes the lives of creatives and business-oriented companies faster, more efficient and more stable.  Go to OWCDigital.com for more information.

Here’s the company’s official mission statement:

At OWC, we’re committed to constant innovation, exemplary customer service, and American design. 

For more than 25 Years, OWC has had a simple goal. To create innovative DIY solutions to give you the most from your technology.  

Beginning with 100% compatible memory upgrades, reliably exceeding Apple’s maximum RAM specs, OWC’s product offering has grown to encompass the entire spectrum of upgrade and expansion possibilities, all with a focus on easy, DIY setup and installation. 

Our dedication to excellence and sustainable innovation extends beyond our day-to-day business and into the community. We strive for zero waste, both environmentally and strategically. Our outlook is to the long term, and in everything we do, we look for simplicity in action and sustainability in practice.

For us, it’s as much about building exceptional relationships, as it is about building exceptional products.

About Cirina Catania, Host of OWC RADiO and Founder and Lead Creative, The Catania Group

Filmmaker Cirina Catania, the Founder and Lead Creative at The Catania Group, has been involved as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer or marketing exec on over 130 film, television and new media projects for the big screen as well as for networks such as National Geographic, Discovery, etc. She is one of the co-founders and former director of the Sundance Film Festival and former senior executive at MGM-UA and United Artists. Cirina lives in San Diego, D.C. and Berlin when she is not on the road filming for her projects or for clients, or speaking as a tech evangelist for companies such as Blackmagic Design and Lumberjack System. For nine years, she was the original “BuZZ Babe” showrunner on the weekly tech podcast, Digital Production BuZZ heard in 195 countries.  Cirina is a member of Local 600 (IATSE), the PGA and the WGA. Best way to know more about her is to type her name into your favorite search engine! There you will find all the good stuff. 

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