Monthly Archives: June 2010

Recording Journal, Vol. 49: “Is This It?”

Is this it?

One year ago, we started work on a CD I hoped to call “No Schedule Man.”  We’ve been through break-ins, hospital stays, equipment failures and all sorts of other challenges, including the re-scheduling of the CD release show because of some of what I just mentioned. And now, as I write this, we’re standing just a few steps away from the end of the tunnel, with the CD set to arrive later this week and the show scheduled for 6 days from now at the London Music Club.

So this is it, huh?

Of course, I understand that this means far more to me than anyone else. Completing and sharing a collection of my own songs has been a goal of mine my entire adult life. To think that the time has almost arrived is humbling and even a little bit disorienting. I understand that the real work begins only after we put the CD out: no one is going to care about it unless we go and share the music with people that have never heard it before. So far, friends and family have given me wonderful support and encouragement and I am grateful beyond words. But just like anything else, if you want to expand your fan base and market share, you’ve got to go out to where the people are and do the hardest work of all: make a good-enough impression that they might remember you, and maybe even ask you to come back and/or listen to your songs again.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with this music over the next year or two, because I won’t be “touring” per se. Music is what I love most, but it’s not my job and, frankly, I don’t want it to be. I would like to become known as a songwriter and, ten years from now, I’d love to be able to afford to spend my time creating and collaborating more often than I do now. So for the time being, I’ll have to try to be content to do shows at little clubs around Ontario as much as we can without going too hard, and also looking for opportunities to support other artists with an opening set or something like that. I’d also love to get to the point where I could play some festivals and go see some places around Canada I’ve never visited before. But that’ll come with time.

Meantime, when we do release the CD this weekend, it will look like I’m contradicting everything I just said because we are coming out guns a-blazing. The CD, t-shirts, hats, magnets, notepads, bracelets and more will all be available from a customized, fully-themed merchandise area at our shows. A short time later, the CD will be available through online retailers around the world, and the merchandise will be for sale online too, through CPT Entertainment Inc.

On top of all of that, we are set to launch a fund and awareness-raising campaign for Hospice of London called “Celebrating Hope” in memory of Sean and Cindy Alward. I believe I’m just as proud of that as I am of completing the CD. Maybe more so. More information about that partnership will be shared early this coming week.

I am very confident that the more shows we do, the more we’ll give people a really nice evening of music. Kevin Gorman and I have the ability to showcase quite a lot of versatility on stage, and I believe our chemistry, vocal harmonies and range of sounds gives us an edge. When you add Alyssa Sestric into the mix, we can really throw a lot at you, and Alyssa is going to do as many shows with us as she can (that’ll not only give her more experience, but it will provide a chance for her to showcase some of her own songs too, and she is a very talented songwriter). When we do the CD release show, we’ll be a little rusty. You’re never perfect right out of the gates. The difference in me now as opposed to even just a few years ago is that I’m okay with that. As long as the tone of the show as a whole comes off the way we want it, we’ll laugh at whatever else may get in the way.

After all, having been through hospital stays, robberies, computer failures and the like and still getting the job done, I hardly think a few mistakes in our live show will register on the radar screen.

Right now, I’ll be happy just to get there, as I’m writing this while I’m sitting in bed, trying to recover from what seems to be a slight reoccurrence of the illness that set me back a few weeks ago. Or maybe it’s just side effects from the useless drugs my doctor gave me earlier this week to help deal with my back and leg pain and help me sleep. Or maybe it’s from navigating through yet another calamitous week.

Or maybe all of the above.

But that’s another story for another day.

Recording Journal Vol. 48 “Kevin on the Ground”

Hello from the floor of my living room. Having received some advice from my physiotherapist (as we work to improve the herniated disc in my lower back), I am typing this journal while lying flat on the floor, stomach to the ground, chin on a pillow and hands out in front of me to reach the computer. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But it puts the least amount of pressure on my damaged disc, so I’ll deal with it.

Speaking of discs, we’re only 2 weeks away from releasing ours. I sure wish I had it ready. Instead, we are biting our nails as we’ve had a computer failure at the studio that has set back KG’s plans to do the final mixing and mastering this weekend. Truly, just about everything else (except my back) is ready to go.

We just need the bloody songs done!

You may remember that today was to be the original release date of the “No Schedule Man” CD. But my recent hospital visit set us back. In my mind, the CD should have been long completed by now. But it’s never that simple. I guess we set deadlines for a reason, and that’s so we can go right up to them. Without deadlines and goal-setting, perhaps we’d never get anything done. Still, it’s frustrating.

You should have a couple weeks (ideally) turn-around time to have the disc duplicated up in Toronto. The artwork for the CD itself is already there and waiting. The CD inserts/cover, etc, have been approved and printed. The first run of souvenir t-shirts and hats and such have been ordered. The merchandise display has been built.

But we’re still waiting for the songs.

14 days left.

I debated whether to write about this or not. I don’t want to appear negative in any respect. However, I promised that I’d write a realistic account of what goes into preparing a project like this, and what’s happening (err, not happening) right now is about as real as it gets.

There’s another reason why I chose to write about it, and that is the fact that I know we’ll be ready, one way or the other, come June 26th. I’ve been through situations like this many times before in my professional life. And I’ve learned that when you encounter these unforeseen setbacks, you must press on, keep a positive attitude and remind yourself that every “problem” is really just a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is obvious. I am trying to keep myself open to recognize and pick up on the opportunity.

We’ll find it.

I’ll site two of my favourite pop culture examples that have helped me learn:

Example 1. In the film “Back to the Future Part 3,” Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) has the time machine DeLorean at an old drive-in theatre. He needs to get the car up to 88 mph so that he can be transported back in time to save his friend. But in the path of his proposed travel is a wall with cowboys and Indians painted on it. He recognizes the fact and protests to his scientist buddy, Doc Brown, that if he drives straight for the wall, he’ll run into the (painted) Indians.

Doc Brown says: “Marty, you’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally. You’ll instantly be transported to 1885 and those Indians (wall) won’t even be there.”

I think of that scene often as I prepare for an event. I like to think “fourth dimensionally.” We may not be ready now, but as long as things are in place by the time we hit 88 mph (June 26), we’ll be all right.

The wall won’t even be there.

Example 2. One of my favourite books is “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. I open it often and re-read passages I’ve marked with yellow highlighter.

In that book, an old man finds himself on the ocean with little more than a small boat and a fishing line he has in his hands. He ends up hooking a large fish; too large for him to be handling with his meagre provisions, really. He recognizes the opportunity (and the challenge) and desperately wants to land the great fish, but he’s struggling.

Next comes a line I often repeat to myself. The old man thinks, “What I’ll do if he (the fish) sounds and dies, I don’t know. But I’ll do something. There are plenty of things I can do.”

There are plenty of things I can do.

Try to remember that the next time you get tossed a curveball. There are always options. It’s just that some are more appealing than others. But you always have a choice.

Meantime, I’ve got all this other great stuff happening, including a support program based around my music that will honour some people very close to my heart and will help a very worthwhile community group help other people. We met this week and agreed to work together and I’m just so very excited about it. We should be announcing that program this coming week.

Our rehearsals are sounding better and better so I know it’s going to be a good show when we land at the London Music Club two weeks from tonight.

I’m thrilled with the merchandise display that my friend Howie built for me. I’m happy with how the merchandise is looking. I’m ecstatic to see the graphic design of some of my song concepts coming to live. I love the way the CD artwork looks.

All I need now are the songs.

So as I finish up, lying on my stomach because I can’t stand for long or walk far without the help of a cane, I think again about this computer-related headache we’ve been presented with, and how we’re going to have to find a way around it here at the eleventh hour. And in so doing, I’m reminded of another one of my favourite lines, from Jimmy Buffett’s book “A Salty Piece of Land.”

It says: “There’s a strange sense of pleasure being beat to hell by a storm when you’re on a ship that is not going to sink.”

Sail on, sailor.

Recording Journal Vol. 47: “Rollin’ Again”

If was the kind of person that thrived on sympathy, I’d have been in heaven these past few days. But I don’t want sympathy.

I want to be a part of the action.

Which is why I bought a cane and hauled my busted-up body out to the race track this past weekend.

I have learned that you have to have a pretty strong sense of self if you’re going to go to a stock-car racing track with a cane when you’re only in your mid-thirties. When you do that, you get one of two reactions: 1) sympathy 2) serious razzing.

Actually, both were kind of fun. And people have been exceptionally kind to me and I am grateful.

If you want to know what the sympathy and the cane are for, please read last week’s journal entry. As for the razzing, it was pretty funny: “What the heck!? Here comes Bulmer with his sympathy stick!” All sorts of ribbing.

I’m just over seven days removed from a four-day hospital visit. I managed to rest myself enough to improve slightly every day over the last week and meet all my obligations at the same time. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and I don’t mind telling you that I’m proud of myself.

My team from CPT Entertainment had a big role in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race that ran at Delaware Speedway last night. Ours is behind-the-scenes kind of work, but it’s important. And you need to know what you’re doing. We do. Though I wear out quickly with this herniated disc in my back, I wasn’t going to miss the race last night or anything leading into it.

And I didn’t.

On top of that, we managed to mash the throttle in preparation for our “No Schedule Man” CD release too.

Earlier this week, I was able to collaborate with Angela from “Distinct Impression” graphic design as we worked on a number of things for some music-related merchandise. I’m pleased with the results and excited to move forward. Angela does great work and she and I seem to be on the same page. That’s rare, and also a lot of fun.

I met with my favourite promotional products company this week as well, and we picked out some hats and shirts and other items that we’re going to turn into merchandise. We’ll order that this coming week.

Of course, I’m not going to just sit my CDs, shirts and hats out on any plain old table, so I’ve also been thinking full-steam about a themed merchandise sales area called the “No Schedule Man Trading Co.” Luckily, one of my best pals has a brother who is ridiculously talented with things like that. Luckier yet, said brother also is a friend of mine and happens to be willing to help me out. After having discussed it a few times, he and I met this morning and purchased some material and so the construction is now underway.

I met with my favourite print company, Middlesex Printing here in London, earlier this week. There, I was able to – finally – submit the artwork for the CD insert, cover, etc. It should go to print this coming week. I will be very proud to have it printed there, where my friends Terry, Jody, Kathy and Cynthia have encouraged me for many years.

And speaking of the artwork, constructing it has been a collaborative effort between me, my buddy and business partner at CPT Entertainment, Jeff Graham, and my mother (who took some photographs). Jeff has done a wonderful job (as always) and I’m glad to have had his hands in the projecet.

If you’ve been following along with this journal, you’ll remember that I had some promotional photos taken a couple of months ago and as part of that process I visited “Joe Kool’s,” my favourite local restaurant. It so happened that I was back there this past week, visiting with my great good friend Jimmy, and while we were there we were greeted by Mike Smith, the owner of the place. I told Mike that one of the CD artwork panels was going to consist of a colour photo of me outside his restaurant and he seemed genuinely pleased. That was cool. I’m going to frame a copy and bring it to him in a few more weeks.

I also had the pleasure of visiting my buddy and music producer, Kevin Gorman, this past Tuesday night. At that time, he played me some of the songs that he’d been working on while I was cooped up in the hospital. The song I wanted to hear most was “Kevin’s Prayer.” Well, let me tell you: when he played that song for me, the hair stood up on my arms and neck. Darn near moved me to tears. The song sounds almost exactly how I was hoping it would. And friends, that almost never happens.

Now that I’m feeling a little better, we are going to pick back up with rehearsals tomorrow night.

In a couple more days, I have a meeting with a highly respected community group. We are gathering to discuss and fund-and-awareness-raising campaign based around my music. I will be thrilled if we can bring that together and I am able to help a worthwhile organization, even in some small way, through the presentation of my songs. I hope very much to have some news to report to you on that front next week.

Aside from all of that, I confess that I am my own worst enemy. While we are in the final stages of post production for the acoustic-driven “No Schedule Man” CD, I have been spending whatever little creative thinking time I can find on my rock material. I’m very excited about it and I plan to do it next. In fact, I’ve already discussed with KG that I want to be recording the rock record while we tour in support of “No Schedule Man.” Truth be told, the rock project has had a name for over three years. So it’s not a surprise. And I’m ready to do it. Soon.

But we’ll see.

We’ll get there when we get there. Just like the song says.

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