Monthly Archives: December 2009

Recording Journal Vol. 26: “Den of Thieves”

Here I thought I was actually getting ahead of the game by posting my last journal on December 17th. Alas, time continues to fly and here I am, a scant 48 hours shy of two weeks later. At least it’s been a busy twelve days.

Sadly, the news has not all been good.

My cell phone rang yesterday and I was delighted to see that it was my great good pal Kevin Gorman calling. He and I had not spoken since a day or two prior to Christmas, so I was looking forward to hearing how his visit with his folks worked out.

But he didn’t tell me about that straight away.

KG was calling to tell me that he’d come back to find his studio had been broken into (the police figure it happened on Christmas Eve, of all nights) and a good deal of his recording equipment taken. Vintage microphones, keyboards, effects racks, processors, cables, sound-proof foam and much more, all gone.

I visited Kev shortly after he called. Luckily, his pal Joey was there, as they are working on their continuing renovations anyway (remember that KG was at another location this past spring, where the roof caved in during a rainstorm and put him out of business and Kev could do little as the landlord did even less. Thus, he is still “rebuilding” this current location, his third within the year). Kev and Joey were in decent spirits. When all else fails, keep to those you love most. And so Joey and I did our best to surround Kev with positive thoughts and offers of support.

I was at KG’s again today to offer what help I could as he slogs through years of paperwork to try and verify what was taken and what it’s worth. At least I learned a lot about catalogue numbers for various audio cables, manufacturers and suppliers and we cross-referenced original receipts to try and verify what had been taken and what had not.

What a world.

I admit my initial reaction to Kevin’s news was of anger. I wanted a face; a pair of eyes to look into, and someone to stare back at me and try to make sense of what they’ve done. I wanted vindication. I wanted to look into this person’s eyes and show them that I was not afraid of them, that I pitied them.

The feeling passed.

I’m still angry. But I’m more sad than angry. I am sad that there are people that feel they have to resort to that kind of behaviour. I wonder who their friends are. I wonder what kind of a relationship (if any) they have with their parents. I wonder if they have anyone to love them, or anyone for them to love.

The equipment can be replaced. KG will recover from that. Joey and I and all his pals will support him – as we have been doing during this challenging year – until things begin to turn positive. And then we will support him some more.

I can tell you this: there is no one thing, no inanimate object or group of objects or possessions that matters more (or anywhere near as much) to me than the love of my family and friends. So I can’t help but wonder: if you have to steal from others to give your life purpose, what is it that you are really missing?

That is the sad part.

To the thieves: I’m not angry at you anymore. We’ll replace what you took. And we’ll continue on. And, believe it or not, we’ll hope and pray that you find a little love in your life. I don’t even want you to say you’re sorry. I want you to find what it is you’re truly missing, and then pass that along to someone else. Good luck.

Meantime, I’ve been calling this a “recording journal,” so I should probably talk about our progress with recording our CD, because we got some good work done before all this happened. But that seems secondary right now. So I’ll tell that story another day.

Actually, I look forward to getting back to that line of thought. Right now the “No Schedule Man” has been derailed. But he’ll be back. Just needs a break right now. As the Trews so brilliantly put it, on their live acoustic album:

“There are those who still believe
That to live your life is to deceive
But I find it hard to breathe
In a den of thieves”

We’ll be back.

– Kevin

Recording Journal, Vol. 25: “Changes in Latitudes”

From one of my favourite Jimmy Buffett songs:

“Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
Through all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”

I took to a different latitude last week, jetting to Orlando, Florida to attend the Performance Racing Industry Show with the team from CPT Entertainment. My latitude changed, but my attitude did not.

We went full tilt.

It was a fun time but also a very hectic few days that took my busy head and made it busier. We scoured through the event, which featured more than 1,100 exhibitors, and went steadily for three-straight days in an effort to get to know more people and build our own business. I feel we succeeded with our goal, but we worked hard to do it. Those two-and-a-half days in Orlando were no vacation.

When we landed back at home, I was relieved to be back, but everything I’d been working on was still here, plus the new stuff I’d brought with me. Yikes.

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

While I was away, our internet kicked out here at home, stranding my wife without computer access to her friends while her husband was gone. I tried to help from down south. Alas, it is still not working correctly over a week later. A crew is coming in tomorrow to try and get that up and running again.

Thankfully, I had my faithful sidekick, “Twiki” the Blackberry. He kept me in touch with electronic communications while my internet was down. Well, except for today, when the entire Blackberry email system crashed across North America.

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

I also managed to brave my discomfort of flying by joking with the boys from CPT (I wouldn’t say I’m “afraid” of flying; it’s just not one of my favourite things to do). While up in the air, we shared several laughs as we wondered what had to be faster; a top fuel dragster or an F-14 launching off an aircraft carrier. We wondered how fast our Spirit Airlines plane had to go to get airborne. We asked each other what we would do if we fell out of the airplane (would you just wait for the ground to hit you or would you try and do something?). In general, the guys helped me deal with my anxiety through some dark comedy, like when the landing gear drops with a large “kaahhh-blunk!” and Jory quips, “Uh-oh Kev – I think the engine just fell off!”

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Then, a couple days later, it was back to our music project and into KG’s studio to start putting down vocal tracks. Tuesday night, we started in on a song called “South Carolina.” I sang it three or four times and thought, “Hey, that was actually pretty good.” And then KG called me into the control room and gave me a review that was a little more gentle than what you’d expect from, say, Simon Cowell, but still very direct. His point was: you’re not doing well enough. You can do better.

I confess I felt frustrated and considered giving up. Instead, I decided to make fun of myself and try to sing part of the song with a voice impression of Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoons. That put KG into fits of laughter and, after about ten more takes, we got the lead vocals for that song done. And after that we got the lead vocals for “Everything’s Just Fine” done.

Like, zoinks!

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Now Christmas is coming, and I’m not ready. I ordered some very special custom-made gifts for my family, and they are not here yet. I am supposed to visit with my Dad on Sunday, and his gift is not here.

Oh well.

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Through all of that, I heard myself say something tonight that made me quite happy. In the midst of an interview for a radio program called “Race Time Radio,” I was asked by the host what I wanted most for Christmas. I immediately said, “A little peace and quiet.” He laughed and told me I couldn’t have that. Fair enough. So I considered his question again and came up with the following conclusion, which I shared with him: “Y’know. As cliché as it might sound, I have everything I need. My kids and wife are healthy, I have great family and friends and a nice place to live. I truly don’t need a thing.”

The irony, of course, is that I do honestly feel that way, and yet I keep working and driving to achieve more. Strange. But on the other hand, I suppose you could argue that it’s that very support system and level of comfort that helps me not be afraid to try new things (and to sometimes fail).

After all, I can relate with these words, also from that same Jimmy Buffett song:

“If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a b-tches
I’ve seen more than I can recall”

I’ll drink to that.

Fins up!

– Kevin

Recording Journal Vol. 24: “Time Out!”

When I was a teenager playing basketball, all I wanted to do was get in the game. Once I was in, I never wanted to come out.

No one ever wanted to be on the bench.

Years later, I played in a recreation league with other adults. I played far better than I ever did as a kid and enjoyed it much more. But the difference was that as adults, we were always happy to go to the bench and take a breather. In fact, there would be some nights when there would just barely be enough guys show up to field two full teams. If there was one extra body, we’d fight over him because nobody wanted to be on a team where you weren’t going to get to rest.

Ironic.

Lately, I’ve been in the game, but I have not been giving myself a chance to get to the bench.

KG (Kevin Gorman) and I have pushed as hard as we can – along with taking care of all our other responsibilities – to move our music project forward. Right now, I am taking a step back from it. It is one I have to take. If I’m to be honest, I’d have to confess that I doubt I’d stop with everything unless I had to.

I’m not proud of that. I’m working on it.

I was supposed to get into the studio last night, but I knew I just didn’t have the steam for it. KG was cool with it and said he’d work on some of his parts without me there, which may end up for the best (it must be nice for him to occasionally work without me nattering at him after everything he does).

As for me, I did what I never do: After I got my boys to bed, I went back into my office, returned a few emails and calls, and then I shut the computer off. I then forced myself to sit on a couch and watch a movie.

The whole thing.

In one sitting.

Laugh if you like, but I never do that. It feels like too long to sit still. I don’t say that as being a virtue: it’s a weakness that I am trying to manage more effectively.

Hence the “time out.”

Tomorrow, I’m headed to the Performance Racing Industry show in Orlando along with my teammates from CPT Entertainment. We should be very proud of the fact that we’ve grown to a point where we can do this kind of thing. But the fact is that we’ve been so busy that none of us has really stopped to think about that. As for me, I struggle with being away from my family, so I have mixed feelings about being away for a few days. I am very busy and I do a lot of things, but I am very involved in my kids’ lives and I guard that time pretty closely. It’s just that, when everyone else is sitting and watching network TV, I’m working on something after the kids are in bed. But I think I understand that my kids learning to cope when I’m not here for a day or two is just as important as me learning to cut myself some slack and take a step back here and there, and let the game go on without me.

I can always “sub” in later, when I’m rested and ready.

So tomorrow I’m leaving on a jet plane, as the song says. It’s not a vacation. We’re going to work, make new contacts and benefit our business. But maybe it’s the best thing that can happen right now. Perhaps I’ll arrive back at my own doorstep in a few days feeling eager to get my mind back into all these things that it is struggling to compute at the moment. Or, even more likely, I’ll meet some people or see some places that will give me ideas for new songs. One never knows.

And as for how my voice stays on the air on BX 93 while my body is in another country?

Well, that is a story for another day.

– Kevin

Recording Journal, Vol. 23: “Time Flies”

We’re getting there. We’ve hit a few speed bumps this last week-to-ten days, but we’re still moving forward, and suddenly something that has seemed so far away for so long is feeling very real.

Kevin Gorman (KG) and I started working on our CD way back in June. A few hours each week was all we could really afford to put toward it on a regular basis. The pace has been, at times, maddeningly slow. But looking back, I will acknowledge that both the time and the process have been entirely necessary. Now that we’ve reached the point we’re at currently, everything seems to be accelerating, almost like it’s going too fast. Suddenly, after all these months of pushing so hard, I find myself willing to try and slow it down.

Ironic.

Over the summer months, with the songs already written, we chipped away at arrangements and instrumentation. In some cases, we would spend an entire session debating what amounted to only a few bars of a single song. In fact, it took us several weeks to settle into the process, which resulted in us going back to the beginning and tearing apart the initial work we did. However once we found a bit of a rhythm, the individual songs and the performances started to take shape within a context of the whole, and we began to get a better feel for what our “sound” was going to be.

Low and behold, after a few months, we found ourselves with the infrastructure of 11 very solid songs built and ready to withstand the inevitable layering that would come next. In fact, we were humming along so well that we were even able to write, record and release a song out of left field (“Song for Sean”) even though each of us were working through illness. The idea that we were able to fast-track that tune seems to fly in the face of all I’ve just said about the overall process. However, I think it was only because of that process that we were ready to “find” that song so quickly.

The other thing that “Song for Sean” did for me (aside from bringing me closer to a lot of wonderful people who appreciated the tune) was give me a lot more confidence than I had before.  That, in turn, led to a surge of momentum that KG and I rode as best we could.

Throughout the month of November, we made incredible progress. With the foundations of the songs built and our confidence up, I threw on some new strings and we set to work capturing guitar performances. It started with a song called “Everything’s Just Fine,” a number that actually has three guitar parts layered one on top of the other. That took about a session and a half.

Then we hit overdrive.

In one particular three-hour session, we managed to record the guitar parts of five separate songs, surprising each of us with both the productivity and the performance. Sensing a wave of positive momentum, we pushed a little harder than perhaps we should have.

Keep in mind that while all this was happening, I’m working full-time for my company, CPT Entertainment; working part-time (Monday to Friday) on the air on BX 93; and also guarding my time with my kids and my wife Tracey very closely (I don’t go to the studio in the evening until after my boys are headed to bed). All the while, I started making other behind-the-scenes plans, like CD artwork and layout concepts, development of a logo for Kevin Bulmer Enterprises, quotes on printing, shrink-wrapping, disc duplication, UPC codes and a whole pile of other things.

When things pick up in that manner, it is fun and exhilarating. But it also takes its toll.

Finally, the air went out of the balloon.

A week ago Sunday, in between buying groceries and doing my laundry, I remember checking in with my son Eddie, who was happily playing his Nintendo DS in our family room. He asked me if we could go outside and play hockey on the driveway. I said, “Sure buddy, but I’m just going to go upstairs and rest for a few minutes while you finish your game. You come up and get me and we’ll go play, okay?”

He told me, “Sure.” So, wanting to be anywhere but in my home office, I went up my bedroom and put the NASCAR race on the TV. Kevin Harvick (my favourite) was even leading. But next thing I knew, Eddie was standing beside me, shaking me. Forty-five minutes had passed. He was saying, “Daddy, daddy – you said we could go outside!”

Yeah. I had said that. And not wanting to disappoint my son, I rolled out of bed and we went outside and had a blast. But I knew my momentum was gone. Or at least, it was on its way out.

The next night, I was supposed to be at Kevin’s for another session. I made it there by about 8:45 pm, but we never got past the front lobby. I was just too tired. We agreed to try it again another day.

The following Friday, I came back, with only three songs left that needed guitar tracks. We tried to do “Bagley Avenue” (one of my all-time favourites) first.

I couldn’t play it.

I tried. Then I tried some more. Then I got so frustrated that I actually told KG that maybe we should leave it off the CD. Thank goodness for KG, as he told me that wasn’t an option, because he liked the song too much.

So I went back to the studio the next day and once again had no luck with that tune. Somehow, I did manage to capture the guitar track for “Sunny Day in November” but “Bagley” continued to elude me.

Somehow, between this past Monday and Tuesday night, I was feeling better and we managed to get enough passable guitar material to get us through that song. Now, only the song “Hope Over Hurt” remains. I anticipate that it will open the album, so I want to take a step or two away and come back to it later, once I’ve got my confidence and enthusiasm up again.

See there? Now that I’m so close, I’m finally willing to wait.

Earlier today, KG and I spent a couple hours together, though I spent more time making and receiving calls and sending out emails for my CPT Entertainment duties (which always come first) while he mixed and edited. We discussed each song and were surprised at how far along we were. Other than “Hope Over Hurt,” we very literally only need to add the vocals and then mix and master the darn thing.

Huh.

As for “Hope Over Hurt,” I’m okay with leaving it until last. The song is a rousing, up-beat song that has a sing-along chorus and it strikes me as the kind of number that we should use to wrap this whole thing up and celebrate our efforts. Perhaps you’ll understand what I mean when you finally here it.

Things will be a little slower over the next week, simply because I won’t be here to do much about it. I, along with my CPT Entertainment partners, will be headed to the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando on Wednesday. But when I’m back, we’ll start on the vocals.

It’s almost time to start planning for a CD release gig in the late winter/early spring.

As I’ve proven to myself, it’ll be here before I know it.

– Kevin

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