As the grip of this relentless winter starts to slowly let go, I can’t help but recall one of the coldest, most challenging projects of my career:
Snowcross at Delaware Speedway.
Back when I was General Manager of that half-mile stock car track, the people I worked for thought it would be a good idea to try and create another event in the wintertime.
Part of the reality of a “seasonal” business is that you only have so many chances to try and put money in the bank. You’re not open fifty-two weeks of the year like most businesses. At best, we had around 30 – 40 dates annually to bring in revenue (in other words, we would go 325 – 335 days of the year without any actual event). That’s daunting, and not an especially comforting business model.
Still, we understood this and so we worked our tails off year-round to supplement that trend by strategically trying to spread out the flow and timing of other forms of revenue, such as: annual banquet, driver registration and membership, event and race division sponsorship renewals and deposits, billboard advertising renewals, and season ticket renewals.
But the bulk of the revenue came from ticket and concession sales and sponsorship directly associated with a race. So it was decided a winter event was a good idea.
And so, in the winter of 2005, we set about the task of dumping snow on our race track.
The concept of Snowcross was to turn the track into a venue that people could visit in February. Instead of watching stock cars on the asphalt, they’d watch snowmobiles on (and above) the snow. Think motocross hills, but with snow instead of dirt and snowmobiles instead of motorcycles.
Sounds neat, right? I agree! But I wish it had been hosted by somebody else.
And here begins the lesson in this story.
For starters, the possibility of conducting this particular event required snow, and lots of it. So the first challenge was to find approximately 400 truckloads of the white stuff and deposit it on to the front straightaway of our race track, and on top of pit road. Say that out loud and see how it sounds: “Let’s take our race track, which has not been resurfaced for roughly 30 years and which we depend upon for the very existence of our business, and let’s drop 400 truckloads of snow on top of it.”
We had no way of knowing whether we would even get enough snow or cold temperatures in the area to make it happen, let alone how we’d get the snow to the race track. We could well have done all the work to prep for the event and end up not having it happen. On top of that logistical challenge, we were also faced with the reality that our facility was never meant to be used in the winter. There was no heat in the concession building or ticket windows, nor in the announcer/scoring tower, washrooms or hospitality lounge.
In addition, we had to try and figure out how to staff the place for just one day, how to find and activate sponsorship (the event really couldn’t be very profitable without it), and how to advertise and market it. Preparing for the upcoming stock car racing season came to a temporary halt.
I will never forget that day. It was frigid. I believe the high reached about minus fifteen Celcius. Before we opened the gates to spectators, I was troubled with how much ice was caked all around the facility. Parts of the grandstand steps – already crooked and uneven at best – were icy. The walkways: ice. I furiously tried to put as much salt down as I could before actual paying customers came in. I remember worrying that someone would get hurt.
Amazingly, no one did get hurt, though we came within an eyelash of a disaster in the parking lot. A number of vendors had created a “tented village” along one part of the fence inside the facility. Unfortunately, someone had decided to tether all of the pop-up tents together, and when a strong gust of February wind arose, the tents all went with it, flipping up and over the wall separating the track from the parking lot like a cross between dominoes and a giant snake, barely missing a hydro line that ran above that fence. I can recall with exact emotional clarity how I felt at that moment: I wondered what I was going to see when I went into the parking lot, fully expecting to discover a series of smashed windshields and scraped-up hoods. I knew there was no way those tents could not have fallen on top of the cars of some of the customers from that day.
But they hadn’t. They missed by inches. I couldn’t believe it.
By the end of it, people that attended did seem to have enjoyed it. The folks that ran the Snowcross organization were lovely people and nice to work with.
But, ours was a 50-year old stock car track, made for the summer, not for a snowmobile event in the winter.
All told, financially, the event did a little better than breaking even. But the true cost would not be clear until much later.
Four hundred truckloads of snow do not melt quickly. Nor is it clean, especially when you’ve had racing machines running on top of it. Much of it was trucked in from places like shopping mall parking lots. As it melted, we began to see the sheer volume of garbage, salt and filth it carried with it. It literally turned black as winter turned to spring. And it reeked.
Pit crew members of race teams stood on top of hills of blackened, stinking, rotting snow hills during the first couple of open practice sessions for stock car race teams that spring. It was a sorry sight. If the race teams were upset about it, I wouldn’t have blamed them one bit.
As time went on, the physical effect of that event left real consequences for the track owners. In short, dumping all that filthy snow on the facility pretty much wrecked pit road. It eventually had to be completely re-paved with concrete, a job costing tens of thousands of dollars.
All told, while well intentioned, adding one random Snowcross event to the schedule of a facility that was not built nor personally equipped to handle such a thing, ended up being little more than one big party whose bills continued to show up for years afterward.
The lesson? In your business, know your core product or service and stay true to it. Even (especially?) when times are slow. Know your key customers and what they come to you for and prioritize them over “side shows” and other distractions. Otherwise, you may find that chasing short-term gain might just bring you long-term pain.
And your business may get left out in the cold.
Here in London, Ontario, I think most would agree that, even by our hearty Canadian standards, this has been a relentless grind of a winter.
In business, we’re feeling it, these last eight weeks especially.
When terms like “Polar Vortex,” “Snow Squall” and “Special Weather Statement” are heard (and then experienced) so consistently, the collective energy of the people grows weary. I can scarcely recall a time when so many seemed so universally worn down as they do right now.
Heck, at the suggestion of a friend, I even looked up details about the phenomenon called “Mercury Retrograde” (and found a great article about it by Gala Darling here ) just to see if there was any further explanation for this current, collective malaise. And it’s interesting.
But I digress.
These kinds of times affect business in a number of ways. We, as consumers, are tougher to reach. We’re staying home. We’re tired. We’re putting off more proactive decisions and dealing more exclusively on matters more urgent to our current day-to-day life.
Idle foot traffic is flagging; we’re moving about by appointment only, and in little mood to browse, or even get to our vehicle and back in such bitter ice, cold and wind.
For retailers, restaurateuers and many other businesses, this is incredibly frustrating.
But, as marketers, we’ve got to look ahead.
This weather will not last. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We just haven’t see the reaction yet.
But it’s coming.
Right now, people are down, cold, weary, and tired. But the flipside of it all is the great likelihood that, once the weather breaks, we will see people out and about in droves. People are aching to get back out and do the things they enjoy, go to the places they like, and buy the things they want.
My question to you, as a business owner, is: Are you preparing for that, or are you moping through the final stages of winter like everyone else?
Now’s the time to get your plan in place. When the surge hits, the greatest percentage of the spoils will go to those who are prepared and have laid the groundwork in advance.
Those who are consistently marketing during these dark, colder times are building their brand and investing in their future. They’ll be top-of-mind when the consumer is finally ready to make a buying decision, or even just that first exploratory internet search. If you’re in this category, good for you. You have a head start on your competition.
But even if you’ve battened down the hatches this winter and have been largely silent, you can still put a plan in place and be ready to invite people to your business for the times when you’re pretty certain they’ll be looking to come out.
So, what’s coming up? Take a look ahead, and think about how your business relates to the many benchmarks we’re about to encounter. To generate some positive momentum, we’ve got to get ourselves into a better head space.
March Break will soon be here. For those who will be traveling with their kids, they may need to have their vehicle serviced before they go away, and may even require the purchase of other essentials (swimsuits, luggage, summer clothes) before they set out. If you’re in those fields, are you talking to your potential customers now?
Many more will stay at home and will be looking for things to do with their kids during the break. Others will finally break out to their favourite restaurant, pub or bar to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day or to watch the annual NCAA basketball tournament.
Are you inviting these people to come see you?
Easter is not far off. Family gatherings will be held in abundance. Many forms of retail should see new activity as well.
In the sports world, golfers will be aching to get on the course, especially with The Masters tournament coming up soon. Baseball players are already in spring training, and the Memorial Cup should have our downtown core abuzz later in the spring. We’re also soon to see the NHL Playoffs begin, and if the Leafs, Canadians and Red Wings all make it in, there will be excitement; a “buzz” that will make these frozen days of February feel like a long time ago .. once they finally get here.
A few weeks after the snow starts to melt, just watch the “for sale” signs pop up on neighbourhood lawns. Who’s getting the listings? And who’s showing the new homes?
After this harsh winter, it’s a good bet that many people will be in need of home improvement and other contract work to touch up whatever’s being hidden by the ice and snow currently. Driveways will need repair. Eavestroughs will be replaced. Roofs will be re-shingled, decks will be built and pools will be installed.
Those who enjoy their garden will be starved for their favourite pursuit more than ever.
We’ll trade snow shovels for garden hoses, sidewalk salt for lawn fertilizer, and boots for shoes!
Anyone who enjoys fashion will surely love to explore some new looks for a new season, completely over-tired of being bundled in scarves, hats and mitts for these last many months.
Once the salt and grime come off our vehicles, we’ll see a lot of scratches, dents and dings that local body shops may wish to be fixing. While many of us will finally do those repairs, others, having finally arrived through the other side of winter, will decide to start anew and will finally go and look to test-drive (and maybe purchase) something new.
Tax return refunds will begin to arrive.
Eight weeks from now, wedding season will be ready to begin. Golf will be in full swing. Patio furniture, barbecues and other outdoor accessories will be flying off the shelves.
It feels better even just thinking of those times, doesn’t it?
Are you ready, or just waiting?
Like the old song says, the sun will come out tomorrow (well … maybe in several more tomorrows, but it will be back sooner or later). My suggestion: put some thought to how you may best take advantage of what’s coming, and put your plan in place now.
When the rush hits (and it will), you’ll be glad you did.
Kevin celebrated the release of his new acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man” at a concert event on February 21, 2014 at the London Music Club in London, Ontario.
The performance was Kevin’s first in over three years.
With an enthusiastic crowd in attendance, London’s Alexa Kay began the night with set of songs that showcased her natural ability as a singer-songwriter, mixing some of her original compositions along with cover versions of other popular songs. Alexa’s incredible talent and sunny personality put the concert on the right track from the start.
Kevin then took to the stage by himself (“Solo”), roaring into the set with the acoustic pop-rock track, “Bilge Rat Blues” from his new EP. He then mixed in a couple of more familiar songs before stopping to discuss the song that really began the whole EP project, “Déjà vu” (for more of the story behind “Deja Vu,” click here).
A medley of songs from 2010’s “No Schedule Man” CD followed, along with another couple of popular tracks and then Kevin’s song “Lullaby” from the new EP.
Bulmer was then joined on stage by Al Coombs from News Talk 1290 CJBK. Together, they played the song “Do Better” (from the “No Schedule Man” CD) and also mixed in some hijinks with other tracks, including a tip of the cap to the late Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Next to the stage was Kevin’s 11-year-old son, Eddie, who joined his dad to perform “March” (from the new EP) and then went into a medley of cover songs that earned young Eddie a standing ovation.
To end the night, Alexa Kay and Al Coombs came back to the stage to join Kevin and Eddie on the title track of 2010’s “No Schedule Man” CD.
Taken all around, it was a grand evening a long time in coming. Sincere thanks to Pete & Janice Denomme from the London Music Club for their continued support, encouragement and hospitality.
Hard copies of the CD are available by contacting Kevin directly.
To contact Kevin to inquire about booking him for a performance, or as an MC or speaker, please click here.
I’ve been fortunate to get to know a great many interesting and inspiring people. I’m grateful to have learned a lot from each of them.
One those people is Fred Geiger.
Fred co-owns a London, Ontario-based business called Custom Mobility, which provides wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices, as well as home healthcare equipment. Compassion, integrity, transparency and empowerment are all extremely important to Fred, and he brings all of these things (and more) to Custom Mobility on a day-to-day basis.
Currently a weekly host of his own “Ask the Experts” radio show on 1290 CJBK (Mondays at 12:00 pm), Fred has always been one to explore new and different opportunities. He has been in the Military, Police, Education and has helped build private businesses on a couple of different fronts.
Even at the age of 17, he was ready to take on a challenge, feeling at that time that he could (should?) open a McDonald’s franchise. His feelings about it were strong enough that he took the initiative to contact the restaurant chain’s Regional Vice President, with whom he eventually took a meeting … at 17 years of age! Among the many things that came from that conversation was the prediction from the McDonald’s Executive that Fred would be “a millionaire by the time he was in his 40’s.” He was also offered a position in the company at that time, but eventually decided to pass due to potential travel concerns.
Those things will come up again later in this conversation.
All of it has brought Fred to where he is now, at the wheel of Custom Mobility, a business that helps people find comfort and independence in their own homes at a time in their lives when they are more potentially vulnerable – both physically and emotionally – than they may ever have been before.
Fred is a man of great integrity, and he seems genuinely content inside his own skin, so I wanted to talk to him and find out more about his story and what got him to this point, and to see what I could learn from him. It was time very well spent.
Here is my conversation with Fred Geiger of Custom Mobility:
Kevin: Your first real interest was in Policing?
Fred: “Well, first, it was the fire department. But when that didn’t look like it could happen, yes, I wanted to get into Policing.
“Now, part of the problem was that to get on the police department, you needed to have either a two-year college program under you or you had to have two university credits. I had neither.”
Kevin: So why not go back to school?
Fred: “At that time, when I was 18, I already owned my first house, so I thought, ‘I can’t quit and go back to school now.’”
Kevin: So then what?
Fred: “And then I looked at military police because they were taking people, and I thought, ‘Okay, then what I’ll do is go into military police and work at that for a little bit and then from that, I’ll be able to leverage that to be able to get on to a police department. And so I joined the military police, with the intention of, later on, switching to the police department, which is exactly what I did.
“From the military police, I got on to the University of Western Ontario police department, which at that time was just a security department but it was transposing into a police department so I was there through all that process. From there, five years later, I got on Niagara Regional Police department. And then I bounced to St. Thomas (Ontario) from Niagara because I wanted to be home, closer to my son from my first marriage. My son was living in London and I didn’t want to be a weekend Dad. So I quit Niagara Region and joined St. Thomas City and that was a story in itself.
“But after a while, from there, that’s when I went to Westervelt (College, in London, ON), to teach, and started the Police Foundations Program.
Kevin: Do you mind telling me how long you were in Policing and what age you were?
Fred: “13 years. I’m gonna say I was 35 when I got out.”
Kevin: At some point over those 13 years, and you’re in the prime of your life, are you thinking, “Gosh – I’ve invested almost a decade and a half of my adult life into this. It doesn’t light my fire anymore. But how can I maybe take some of what I’ve invested in myself and extract from it and then apply it in a way that will maybe feed me a little bit more?”
Fred: “I think it was exactly that. What I had also done in the meantime, I started going back to university part time. I did get my university degree. I wasn’t complete by the time I left the police department but I continued with it. What I did was pretty significant because I had been on the police department long enough that I wasn’t going to get laid off. And, great benefits, excellent money, pension. I gave it all up. I just wasn’t happy. My wife Vera has always been wonderfully supportive so with her blessing, I took a big pay cut to go from the police department to Westervelt College.
“I don’t regret that for one second.”
Kevin: Tell me more about what you did at Westervelt.
Fred: “When I started teaching at Westervelt, they had a version of a law and security program. And from there I heard that there was an inkling that they wanted to go to this new standardized training and it was called the Police Foundations Program. So I kind of ran with that.
“It’s getting buried pretty deep now, but even if you Google my name, I have an acknowledgement from the Solicitor General because I sat on the original curriculum development committee for all the Police Foundation Programs. And because we were private colleges as opposed to the community colleges, we were able to beat everybody else to the marketplace.”
Kevin: How long did you do that?
Fred: “Close to 7 years.”
Kevin: So now you’re in your early 40’s. Next thing you know, you’re getting into the truck wash business ….
Fred: “What happened was, at Westervelt, now there were new owners from back then. They had a different vision.
“When I first started there, and I started telling them that I had this vision of the Police Foundations Program, I was telling them, ‘I think I can build you a really successful program.’
“When I started there, they had 8 students in their security program. I said, ‘You give me five years; I’ll have 100 students in my program.’
“Well, within 5 years, I had 150 students in the legal programs.
“We had a great program. I said, ‘You give me five more years, I’ll have 500 students in this program.’
“We put together one helluva program with a lot of credibility and that’s why we were beating so many people out of the gate. But then I began experiencing resistance on how I believed the program needed to develop to grow successfully and to maintain its integrity. I had a lot of pride and seeing the program shift in a way that I felt was diluting the quality, I said, ‘It’s time to move on.’”
“So, I went from that, I got offered a job to help import this equipment from Sweden, which is a whole other story.”
Kevin: How did you feel about life in general around that time?
Fred: “I remember feeling a little bit of pressure. It’s funny, because you pointed it out. There was a little bit of pressure in me from what that guy at McDonald’s had said (about being a millionaire by the time he was in his 40’s). Because I thought it was almost like I was letting him down at that time.”
Kevin: Him or yourself?
Fred: “Maybe both.
“But I remember thinking ‘You know, I wanted to prove him right.’ But it just turned out a different way. I’ve forgiven myself for that now, because I also believe that at age 17 when I made that kind of bridge – you know – I can’t be an entrepreneur because I don’t have the money, that I went the different direction of the employment route, being on the police department. I think that really stagnated me for quite a while. Because when I was at Westervelt College, honestly, I was a pure entrepreneur. I developed a program, I put the program together. I marketed it. I got the Chiefs of Police to say it was a good program. There was a lot of work. It was like building a business within a business and I really loved that part. That part was just great.
“And I really believe that the only way that you make what you deserve in this world is working for yourself. That’s a little bit harder. That steady paycheque isn’t there or anything. And there is that work in the trenches and everything else. But at the end of the day, it’s not all about money.”
Kevin: That’s a hard thing to learn.
Fred: “We always want to make as much money as we possibly can, but there’s so much value in your quality of life. And it’s maybe a cliché, but most people don’t live it.”
Kevin: So, it sounds like you’re saying that if you consistently do the right thing, the results you require will eventually find their way to you?
Fred: “Yes. Because I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think you can be incredibly ethical and do a good job and still make money at it. You don’t have to cut corners. Of all the industries, it should be able to be done in this one.”
Kevin: And for all the talk of money, it seems to me it would be just as gratifying, if not more so, to go another however-many-years and look at – where there was nothing – and then look at what had been established and the lives that had been effected and the people that had been helped. There was nothing there, just like the Police Foundations Program, but then you created it and helped a lot of people along the way. We talk about money but there’s also this challenge that seems to keep running through everything you’re telling me about.
Fred: “You’re right. Because that is still one of my proudest accomplishments, is that whole Police Foundations thing. Because there was absolutely nothing. And now there are 35 colleges and universities that offer that program. And to say that I was the first guy out of the gate on that … there’s a lot of pride in that.”
Kevin: I was going to ask about what would be something that stands out that would make you particularly proud. It sounds like that would be at the top of the list?
Fred: “That’d be up there. And I haven’t found what the one is yet here (at Custom Mobility). I haven’t put a finger on it. But I get the sense it will evolve around the fact we have so many clients say to us, ‘You know, thanks. You’re the first people that listened to me.’
Kevin: If you could go back and talk to that 17-year-old Fred Geiger, whether it was the time around the McDonald’s inquiry or even a little bit beyond that, when you were investigating the fire department and you were getting restless with high school … what do you think you’d want to impart upon yourself, knowing what you know now?
Fred: “Probably to have found a mentor in the field of what I wanted to do.
“I really … I never begrudge what happened, because I believe that everything happens in due course. You develop at every step along the road and I’ve learned transferable skills that I use in my business today. And so I’m happy where I am and I’m happy about the road.
“But if there was something I could change, I probably wish I had have taken that job offer with that guy in McDonald’s, because I think that fellow would have taught me a lot.
And for that same reason today, I’ve encouraged my son to explore a Specialty Management program for university grads offered where he works. When you get an opportunity like that, there are jobs that you’ve never dreamed of in your life and you’re going to be exposed to it.
“I’m just a believer that where there are opportunities, you’ve got to take it and explore it. Because you never know where that’s going to lead you.
“I never would have dreamed in a million years I’d be doing what I’m doing. But it has really brought a lot of my passion together. It’s brought a lot of the entrepreneurship. And helping people. In earlier years, I wouldn’t have anticipated that it would come from this, but it has. And I think it’s a matter of having that open mind, saying, ‘Can it work?’ and ‘Do I want it to work?’
“It’s the same with you. You’re constantly exposed to things. Yet our training over time tends to direct us to think, ‘Ah, that’s not going to work’ or ‘there’s too much competition in that’ or ‘there’s too much this.’
We don’t need to think like that. Go explore it.”
To visit the Custom Mobility website, please CLICK HERE
To access, listen to and share the archived Podcasts of Fred’s “Ask the Experts” radio programs on 1290 CJBK, please CLICK HERE
Here’s another new song from Kevin’s upcoming EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man.” For this one, think pirates, palm trees, boat drinks, beaches, white sand, clear blue water and … freedom.
With our concert date approaching for the release of the new acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man,” my son and co-conspirator, Eddie, and I decided we’d try our hand at making our own “Vlog” this past weekend.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a production that would make even Steven Spielberg proud.
Hope to see you on February 21st!
Here’s a True Story …
In my days as Sales and Marketing Director at Delaware Speedway (a half-mile stock car racing track near London, Ontario, Canada), we were always looking for ways to expand our fan base and broaden our demographic.
And we wanted to appeal to kids. Future customers.
At one point, we came upon the notion that, perhaps, the track would benefit from the presence of a “mascot;” you know, like the San Diego Chicken, to whom the kids would relate. Armed with the knowledge that Charlotte Motor Speedway had such a mascot, named “Lugnut,” we decided to embark upon our own characterized adventure. After some deliberation, we settled upon the name “Dipstick,” for three main reasons:
- A dipstick was part of any vehicle’s engine. It’s how you checked the oil!
- “Dipstick” was what Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane often called Deputy Enos in the TV Show, “The Dukes of Hazzard”
- We wanted to poke a little bit of fun at ourselves
After agreeing on the name, I can well remember the discussions of character design: should he have a “T”-shaped head, or a “loop?”
We began examining the dipsticks of any nearby vehicle we could find and, in time, decided that a “T”-shaped head would make for a better character.
We also embarked upon the task of finding a company that could actually design and construct the costume for us (We eventually found a business based out of Edmonton, Alberta. The name escapes me, but they were the ones that made the costume).
In the preliminary drawings, Dipstick actually looked pretty cool, and somewhat agile.
In reality, he was shipped to us in a giant crate. And the costume inside ended up being one big, rigid, giant, heavy box that afforded the person inside almost no mobility, limited visibility and nothing for reach but the equivalent of little T-Rex arms.
In short, a lot of money later, Dipstick was a disaster.
Undaunted, we decided to unveil our new creation to the “world” (or, about 1500 people) at the race track’s annual appearance a London Knights Ontario Hockey League game (note: this was back in the day when the Knights played in a rinky-dink arena and few people followed them with much passion. Nowadays, the Knights pack around 9,000 people into almost every home game. This event pre-dated that trend).
Between periods, our new mascot was to take to the ice to wave to the fans and thereby represent the race track proudly and convert all in attendance at that hockey game into instant stock car racing fans. The plan was foolproof!
When the time came, the players left for their dressing rooms and the zamboni set about its duty, flooding one clean patch of ice down the middle of the rink to begin the task of cleaning the playing surface.
Dipstick stepped out in front of the fans and took a few tentative steps on the frozen stage. Gaining confidence with each step, he shuffled further into the center of the rink, only to come across the freshly flooded center spot where the Zamboni had just recently been.
As soon as Dipstick hit that flooded patch of ice, his feet went out from under him.
The box-like behemoth of a mascot landed with a resounding thud, and it quickly became apparent that the dimensions of the costume were going to make it a challenge for the person inside to get up and resume entertaining the crowd.
As if that were the only problem.
With Dipstick flat on his back, in front of the crowd during intermission of a hockey game at the old London Ice House, I walked over to him, along with young Stephen Richmond, a Delaware Speedway Junior Racing League competitor at the time. When we arrived at our fallen mascot, we both figured that we’d be able to take his hand and lift him back to his feet.
But that didn’t work.
We tried to raise him off the ice.
We tried again.
He didn’t budge.
It was then that I realized, with our newly minted mascot lying flat-out on our local hockey team’s playing surface, that we had a bigger problem on our hands.
Dipstick had frozen to the ice.
The “flood” left by the zamboni mixed with the fabric of Dipstick’s costume and, by the time he’d fallen, the water had frozen, taking Dipstick’s upper body with it.
He was stuck.
I can well remember it. People in the stands were howling. Tyler Anderson, who was inside the costume, was flat on his back and staring straight up at the ceiling. He commented that all he could see were, “bright lights.”
We eventually got him up and off the ice surface, and the game continued. I can’t recall who won.
But I can tell you this:
Next time you come up with the “next great idea,” take a few extra days and think it through. Once you’ve examined every angle, you may find it’ll work out fine.
Then again, you may end up with your Dipstick stuck to the ice.
Kevin is excited to announce the concert date for the release of his new EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man,” on Friday, February 21, 2014 in the Cellar Lounge at the London Music Club in London, Ontario.
Kevin will be joined on February 21st by Alexa Kay, an incredibly talented singer-songwriter who was recently awarded with the “Young Inspirations: Shine Your Talent Audience Choice Award” at Hugh’s Room in Toronto.
Kevin’s oldest son, Eddie Bulmer, and his good friend from 1290 CJBK Radio in London, Al Coombs, will also make appearances on stage.
Tickets to the concert are $8 in advance (available through the London Music Club Box Office) and $10 each at the door. Each ticket purchase includes a digital copy of the new EP, which will be distributed at the door the night of the concert.
Here is the poster for the event. Please feel free to share it with your friends!
Kevin’s brand new song, “Deja Vu,” is now available for streaming and/or download at Bandcamp.
A video with lyrics to the song has also been posted to YouTube:
Here is a little info from Kevin about the song:
I wrote this song in 2006. Aside from a couple of different chord implementations and a few arrangement tweaks here and there, the song remains the same as when it was originally conceived. However, the first home demo I made of this track featured electric guitar and a driving drum beat. I always figured it would be a pop departure on an album of rock songs that I still hope to make one day. But when this particular project came to life, “Déjà vu” held up best as the song that sounded like a few folks on a front porch could bring it to life with just a couple of acoustic guitars, a shaker and a couple of voices. In that sense, this song became the backbone of the project.
As for the lyrics, I have often experienced the sensation of déjà vu. When it happens, I figure it means I’m on the right path. Whether or not that true is anyone’s guess.
I also used to dream, frequently, of tornadoes. Whenever a “tornado dream” would come along, I would take it to mean that major changes and/or shakeups were afoot. And it most often turned out to be the case. I’m glad to say I don’t have tornado dreams much anymore (although, I did have one in September of 2013, during the post production of this project).
What really sealed the deal with finally trying to record this song is how much my oldest son, Eddie, seems to love it. He has consistently encouraged me to record it pretty much from the moment he first heard it, which was six or seven years after it was first written.
This one’s for Eddie, who has been a constant encouragement and always an inspiration.
I love you, Eddie!!
“Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man”
This project was a long time in coming. I spent a great deal of time away from my guitar, for many different reasons. And when I returned to it, I did so tentatively. But at some point in the winter of 2012/2013, I started sifting through my catalogue of songs and singling out some that I felt like working on, with no particular agenda in mind.
Eventually, I blew the dust off my little 8-track digital recorder and captured some newer versions of a handful of songs, just to see how I felt about them.
One of those songs was called “Déjà Vu.”
My kids ask me about my music a lot. So I shared with them that I’d been working at it again. They immediately asked to hear the songs. We were in the car, and I played snippets of four or five tracks for them. I didn’t play any of them all the way through. And again, at that time, these songs were rough: demos of demos. My boys congratulated me and encouraged me to keep working at it, but didn’t say much more than that at the time.
Weeks later, while I was preparing a meal in the kitchen, I heard someone singing the chorus to “Déjà vu” from the other room. I entered to find Eddie, my oldest boy, sitting on the couch and happily chirping out the melody that he’d only heard once before, weeks prior, and not even in its entirety. I was stunned.
“What are you singing, little buddy?” I asked.
“It’s that song you wrote, Dad,” he said.
“How in the world did you remember that? You didn’t even hear the whole thing and that was weeks ago.”
“It’s a great song and I really like it, Dad,” he said. “You should put it on iTunes.”
And so it began.
I want to thank Eddie and Jaden (that’s Jaden on the cover) for helping me to see what I couldn’t see on my own. They showed me that it’s worth continuing to create for one simple reason:
And if you’ve got something that you enjoy just humming to yourself, then that’s enough.
Eddie, Jaden and I will be humming along in 2014.
You’re welcome to join us.
1. Intro: Old McDonald (1:00)
2. Deja Vu (3:33)
3. Bilge Rat Blues (3:12)
4. Lullaby (3:40)
5. March (4:10)
All songs written by Kevin Bulmer (SOCAN)
Produced by Kevin Bulmer with Tim Schwindt
Recorded at River Music Productions in London, Ontario
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Tim Schwindt for River Music Productions
Kevin Bulmer (lead and backing vocals, guitars)
Tim Schwindt (percussion)
“Left Right Left” vocals on “March” by Eddie Bulmer, Margaret Bulmer, Caroline O’Neil, Kevin Bulmer, Tim Schwindt, Patti Schwindt, Justyn Schwindt and Heather Schwindt