This is the sixth in a series of articles. Previous entries can been accessed quickly with these links:
Part 6: Challenges and Potential Solutions
For the purpose of a quick review, here are just some of the challenges I see between me and the completion of this project:
– I don’t have the money
– I don’t have the time
– I don’t have the talent as a guitarist
– I don’t have the ability as a singer
– I don’t have the right gear, or know anything about what the right gear even is
– I have an electric guitar I bought for $150 at pawn shop
– I don’t have a band
– I don’t have anywhere for a band to rehearse
– I’m not in good enough shape, physically, to perform the way I want for a couple of hours
– I’m not in good enough shape, vocally, to record or perform the way I want for a couple of hours
– I don’t know how to properly record rock music, or where to do it
– I’m a single dad with a busy career whose top priority is his kids. My time with them is off-limits to much else. What sense does it make to take this on?
Just how in the world am I supposed to overcome these challenges?
I’ve been thinking about that.
I’ve already begun to play my guitars more and more. And I’ve committed myself to creating a “Song Blog” on my KevinBulmer.com page to force myself to play and sing on a somewhat regular basis. It’s likely that some (most) of those Song Blogs, at some point in 2016, will be demos of Mutineer tracks. That process alone should start to build some singing and playing chops back up, along with nurturing and feeding a consistent rhythm of creativity.
I figure I can always take some guitar and/or vocal lessons this year to sharpen up. Plus, I work in sales & marketing during the day. I’m on the road a lot. Nothing’s stopping me from singing along with the songs in the car or doing vocal drills to build up endurance and skill while I’m in between appointments.
You don’t find the time – you make the time.
As for my level of guitar or vocal proficiency (or lack thereof), I’m finally at peace with the idea of sounding like … well … me. After all, I’m the only “me” there is. I want to be the best representation of myself that I can, but I’m simply not going to have the level of skill that someone who does it for a living will have. I earn my living in other ways. I have two great kids who are my top priority. I am only willing devote so much time to becoming better at playing guitar or singing. But I’ll do my best and that’ll be that. For areas where I really need people with a high level of skill, I’ll find help. My ace in the hole is that there are lots of people who sing and play, but I’m the only one who has my songs. And I’ll go to bat with them any day.
I’ve begun to change my gym routine to include more cardio and a lot more stretching. I’ve also begun to learn some beginning yoga poses and intend to take some classes through 2016 to gain more endurance, core and leg strength and flexibility. And if you don’t think I’ll need it, you have no idea what I’m intending to do. I don’t plan on just standing there. You’ll see.
Money, I can make. I could start a Mutineer online store and sell merchandise. Perhaps I’ll start a Pledge Music campaign once I get closer to it. Maybe I can secure some sponsorship. Perhaps there are grants available in Canada for this kind of thing. But the money is the part I’m actually concerned about the least. That part will figure itself out.
As for gear, recording and rehearsal space, I don’t have to know about all that. I just need to find people I can trust that do have that knowledge. I know what I do have: the songs. I can learn from others about everything else.
But what about the other players? Well, I already have a certain guitarist in mind, and have been thinking of trying to work with him for many years. In all of my visions of this project, he is the guy who is the other anchor of it all. He doesn’t know this, and would have absolutely no idea I’ve been thinking of him at all. And after I reach out to him, it may end up that he either isn’t interested or isn’t the right fit. But I want that to be part of this process of discovery. Ever since I first saw this guy play and met him 8 or 9 years ago, I figured we’d someday work on something together. When I see the moving picture in my mind of this band on stage, he’s the guitar player, the anchor, the cleanup hitter. We’ll find out if I’m right or not. I have not reached out to him yet, but will do that soon.
Why be so picky? Well, I need, or at least I think I need, somebody with a certain set of skills that likes a lot of the same music that I do that can pull off the level of playing that I’m envisioning. I want to play guitar on some of the songs, but not all of them. I even have a few specific songs in mind that I know I want to include in the concert, and I know he could not only handle them, but would likely enjoy playing them, because I know he loves a certain band as much as I do.
I have no vision yet of who plays bass or drums, although I do envision some guest vocalists to appear on certain songs and in the concert. I figure that if I can somehow convince the guitar player I’ve mentioned to jump on board with me, the rest will sort itself out. And if it’s not him, someone else will find their way to me somehow. Navigating through that will all be part of the process.
Having said all of this, what could possibly be in it for you to take any time and trouble to follow along? I’ve thought about that, too, and will share those feelings in the final entry of this series in Part 7, tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!
Four years ago today I achieved a goal I’d held for at least a decade: to complete and release a full-length CD of my own music. It was June 26, 2010, when “No Schedule Man” was finally released with a concert at the London Music Club here in London, Ontario. Much has happened since then. And looking back, I feel proud of myself for seeing the goal through to completion, and I’m glad I have those songs recorded in some form.
It took me almost a year and a half to finish the project (I documented the whole process with a weekly journal. All the entries can be found HERE). At the time, I was not enjoying the accomplishment as much as I’d been hoping to, as I was truly hurting with sciatic nerve pain caused by herniated discs in my lower back (which actually caused a two-week delay in releasing the CD). In fact, just one week after the CD release show, I decided to cancel the rest of the appearances I had booked for that summer because I was just in too much pain and wasn’t enjoying myself at all. Partly because of that, I never really felt those songs got the push they deserved.
Shortly afterwards, many significant life changes took place, including a divorce, change of address and change in career, all of which happened pretty much at the same time. In the face of that, playing the songs from “No Schedule Man” quickly fell down the list of priorities.
For the better part of two years after all that, I didn’t even really look at my guitar, let alone go anywhere and play. My mind was only on being with my two boys, keeping myself healthy and learning what I needed to learn from the life changes that had taken place. To that end, I feel grateful for the lessons I’m not sure I could have learned any other way. But there was always a part of me that felt bad about watching “No Schedule Man” sit and collect dust.
Eventually, the urge to start creating and sharing music bubbled back up. But it was different this time. There was much more patience, and even hesitation, to move forward. As I’ve written and talked about before, it was really my oldest son, Eddie, who nudged me to start working on music again, and so last summer I recorded a handful of new songs that became the acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man.” In the process of getting ready to release that collection, I went back and started rehearsing some of the songs from the original “No Schedule Man” CD again and thought, quite honestly, that there were some really good songs just sitting and waiting for me to pay them some mind again.
Now that “Solo” has also been released, my guitar is mostly quiet again, at least for now. I’m still not sure where all this fits in the scheme of a guy who makes his living as a Marketing Consultant and Radio Account Executive. But when I burden myself with trying too hard to make sense of it all, I think back to the lyrics of the “No Schedule Man” title track and remember that “No plan is all part of the plan.”
The idea of control is really a fallacy. Change is inevitable, and this present moment is truly all we have. So I strive to be more like the character I created with “No Schedule Man,” to the extent where I’ve since adopted it as a kind of “brand” for most of the things I do, and hope to be.
No Schedule Man, the character, doesn’t aim to have. He simply wants to be.
One day, I’ll give those songs the attention I always felt they deserved. In the meantime, I can look back and feel proud that they even exist in the first place, and feel emboldened about my ability to navigate through whatever changes and challenges may come from here. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore and celebrate your own creativity as well, in whatever form that may be. I did, and I’m glad I did.
Happy Anniversary, No Schedule Man. I’m better for knowing you and am curious to see where we set sail next.