Weekend wedding gig

This wedding gig came up 2 hours before start time! I wasn’t too happy about it at first. I was going to refuse.  But when it’s someone’s special day to get married I’m not going to be the one to try and make their day not go perfectly.

"It's a little bit funny"...

“It’s a little bit funny”…

So I sang a couple songs and sweated up a storm in the spotlight.  Then after I did my short set a woman approached and asked if we could do a song together that I had never hear before.  We had 15 minutes so we rehearsed a couple times and nailed it.  It was a great little show for a happy wedding couple.

"Eh, there's a bar of 6 before the G".

“Eh, there’s a bar of 6 before the G”.

CHEEEEESE.

A special thanks to HappyShoot.jp (Boss and Jacky) for these pics.

2013 in a Nutshell!

Well 2013 was another great year.

Feel the pain in the thighs.

I trained hard with “Da Boyz” and raced a lot. I rode over 10,000 km’s and I also won 2 races. One of those races was by a lot!

That's Me at the Top.  Woot Woot

That’s Me at the Top. Woot Woot

I really love cycling in Japan especially where I live in Numata. The mountain roads around here are clean and hardly used. Some early morning rides it feels like the road was made just for me. I’m looking forward to next year already. I will upgrade my bicycle group set Dura-Ace to the 9000 mechanical and probably buy a new training wheel-set.

Financially things were great, too. My best friend Ward did wonders with his day trading bringing me in over 17% profit over the year. I could “almost” quit my day job but not just yet. Also, Capital Clean Seed stock which I have some big money tied up in has finally started to climb and I’m excited to where it’ll go this year. If things go as predicted my move back to Canada won’t be as scary as I think. I will pray to the money gods on that one! It would really give me a lot of options on how to take care of my family which is the main reason I’ve been working so hard in the first place.

My little girl Victoria is now almost 2 years 6 months and she just gets cuter to me every day. She’s talking and developing her own personality and fortunately she loves playing together with daddy. She starts my days off by saying “Good morning daddy” and she never shy’s away from saying “I love you daddy”. What more could a father ask for? People tell me it will one day change and if they’re right, I best absorb every moment I can right now. Nothing makes me feel like I have a purpose more than my daughter.

Let's rock 2014!In August, I took 2 weeks and headed to Nashville Tennessee to record my latest album. I called up Aussie Greg Arnold again to produce it and we met up in a hotel near downtown Nashville to bash out the songs in pre-production before heading over to Alex the Great studio to have Brad Jones engineer and co-produce. The recording went well and it was an incredible experience. Brad would drive us to a different restaurant ever day around 3 to experience Southern food. The cool thing about the studio was that it was attached to a guest house which was included in the studio fee. I slept in the big studio room every night trying to finish off lyrics.  It was so cool looking around the room at the double bass, the grand piano, the drums all mic-ed up, and the foam carefully placed for sound just before closing my eyes and dreaming.  A kid in a candy store! The album is finally out and in boxes but I don’t plan on releasing it until January 2014. It’s titled, “Every Sunrise”.

Newest album, "Every Sunrise"

Newest album, “Every Sunrise”

Recording

I also hooked up with my brother in Nashville. He flew in for 2 nights to see me. It was really great to spend quality time with him. We had no family distractions and it was the icing on the cake to make it a memory I will not forget.

My Bro and I in Nashville 2013

I had a good year of gigging too. I am very fortunate to have my job at Lockheart castle. Without that second income things would be a lot different for us. But I also landed a few new gigs that could promise to become a regular event.

The worst thing of 2013 was word that my father has cancer in his liver and lungs. He’s on chemo now as I write this but I should point out that he got a phone call 3 days ago saying his last CT scan showed “a significant decrease of cancer in his liver” which has a lot of us family members excited. I will pray that the drugs continue to work and that my father kicks cancer in 2014.

Love my dad

Love my dad

So 2014 is just around the corner and if there are no hick-ups along the way I expect I will continue to do all the things I love, like look after my family, train hard on the road bike, race hard, gig every weekend, save money, write songs, sell the new album, and do my best to stay healthy and happy. Thank you 2013 and hello 2014!

JCRC – Gunma Bicycle Race. July 14th, 2013. Winner!

Sunday July 14th I entered a race with JCRC (Japan Cycling Racing Club)  My first time to this event and I was a little nervous. There were heaps of intimidating riders who had come from all over Japan. It was as expected a well organized event.

One lap is 6 km.

One lap is 6 km.

We followed the pace motorbike for the first 2 km until we reached the first hill and then the race was on. I wanted to stay near the front of the pack because of all the dangerous corners, hairpins and bad road sections. I thought I might have an advantage on the hilly sections if I was close to the front because I live in the mountains and climb them every day, so that if a chance came – I might be able to break away. Well, in the very first loop as we were climbing the steepest section near the end I pulled away effortlessly. I didn’t know if they all were saving themselves or what? I thought about falling back into the pack and waiting until later in the ride to attack but it was only a 24 km race so I didn’t. I said good-bye and left them and rode behind the pace bike until the finish. I totally expected to be swallowed up by the group near the end but that never happened. I won by a good 1 minute and 20 seconds. I totally surprised myself. I wanted to finish in the top 5 but instead, left everyone behind.

That's Me at the Top.  Woot Woot

That’s Me at the Top. Woot Woot

A happy day pour moi.

It reminded me of my youth in Canada when I used to do well in the race circuit but never thought at this age I’d still have something to offer. This ain’t the Tour de France I know! But it was packed and riders came from all over Japan, booked hotels and probably set out to do well, too.  I’ll pat myself on the back, sleep well and then go about my daily life again tomorrow like it was dream!

Vitus frame, the first look clipless pedals and the first Oakley cycling glasses.  Cooooool

Vitus frame, the first look clipless pedals and the first Oakley cycling glasses. Cooooool

Sorry for the bragging here but hey… I don’t get a chance to do it so often!  And… this is my blog. hee-hee

Avg HR: 169 bpm   Avg Pace:  37 km/hr

I Lost the Fight with TREK – Part 3

The 3rd and final episode of the ongoing saga regarding my TREK replacement frame ended with the protagonist getting a pump shoved in his front wheel by TREK and sliding on pavement with road cherries.

My baby.  We've been through a lot of miles together.

The non Hollywood story is much more anticlimactic with a simple email from TREK Japan that reads:

Hello Kelly,

We are sorry to keep you waiting.

This past week the US customer service manager, APAC customer service manager, sales rep and I discussed and concluded that we cannot replace this frame.

The reason is that the store sold the custom painted frame, and then it was taken home.

However, we are working with the shop on options to help you on their behalf.

The store mentioned that they would like to contact you but have had difficulty contacted your cell phone.

Could we tell them your email address?

We appreciate your patience in working through this!

 

Regards,

XXXX

So, I’m left with the new frame.   I don’t mind it. I would have preferred a different color.  But my friends tell me they like it.  What do you think?

The new Frame colors.  Not ugly at all.  But not what I wanted.

The new Frame colors. Not ugly at all. But not what I wanted.

10562531_686656801420931_7810367393120019470_o 1795270_691953967557881_5183402139455113107_o

 

Organizing Your Own Concert

kelly's concert 048

As I get older and pick up more responsibility, I find myself working harder to secure a good life. This involves hours of implementing and employing new marketing strategies to make money as an independent musician.

One of the new ideas I have turned into reality has been organizing my own concert and drumming up people to come and watch.

As opposed to getting hired to play a gig somewhere (which can still pay well), I wanted to set the bar higher and take control of the whole concept.

Thanks to some great advice on the internet and support from friends and fans, I have successfully done this 2 times now.

Here is a stripped down version of some of the major details required to hold a live concert.

1) Find a great place to hold it.

You need to find somewhere convenient and make sure it has the acoustics for great sound. I chose a local community theatre here in Japan that has an amazing stage already equipped with lighting, speakers, and all that jazz. It’s also relatively cheap since it belongs to the community.

2) Design the tickets.

I made sure to design some tickets that look professional. The cheaper they look, the less professional you appear also. Do these properly and people will feel like they’re going to watch the real deal when they pay for one.

3) Getting the word out.

This is probably the most important and most difficult part of the whole process. You must do everything in your power to find people to come to the event if you want a successful show. Here are some things that I did.

a) make colour flyers

b) make posters

c) make small pass-outs

d) ask for a radio interview. I went into the local radio station with two other members and performed live.

e) Make an audio commercial about 30 seconds long that you can use on the radio (if you want to pay a small fee for air time) and also you can burn it onto a CD rom with three songs from your CD and pass them out. This was quite successful. I passed out a lot of CD’s as PR and with three free songs and a quick spiel on the upcoming show.

f) Get a street team together. Ask band members and friends to help out. I promised some fans they could come for free if they help sell tickets. You’ll be surprised what a lot of fans will do because they believe in you. I also promised the band two different guarantees. I told them I’d pay them “X” amount of money more, if we sold over 80% of the tickets we made. I was really surprised at the effort they put into helping out.

g) Make sure you start the campaigning a good 2 months in advance. People need time to plan and spread the vibe of the event.

h) Talk about it all the time. Don’t push it in peoples faces but there are ways of talking about the event that don’t come across as sales. “I went to bed late last night because I was rehearsing with the band”. You never asked anyone to come but you refreshed their memory that you’re working hard towards the gig.

i) Offer prizes like t-shirts (if you have them), or free CD’s.

j) Ask local shops if you can put a poster on their window.

k) Play at local CD stores for free.

4) How can you make the show unique?

In other words, how can you justify charging people to come to your show? For me, since this was my second time doing this, I wanted to step up the game and make it better than the first time. The first concert I held on my own consisted of 4 band members. This time, I invited two friends (who are pro musicians) to come spend some time with me in Japan and do the gig making it a 6 piece band. They wanted the holiday/experience and the Japanese were thrilled to have two professional foreign musicians adding heaps of colour to the show. I should point out that I held this concert in a relatively rural area. This was to my advantage because more of the local people don’t normally get an opportunity to see a rock concert so close by. It was easier to convince people that they’re about to see something normally held in Tokyo.

5) Practice.

Let’s face it, if you want to impress your fans and make them leave the concert feeling they spent their money wisely, practice hard and make the band tight!

_MG_5020

6) Please those around you first!

If you want to do this again in the future then your name is important. Don’t get too greedy and try to keep every single penny you made from the gig. You might want to do this because you worked 99% harder than anyone else did to make this happen. However, paying the right people and doing it fairly is good business. They will be willing to do more for you next time and you’ll even find more doors opening for you.

7) Make a to do list.

Organization is key to everything running smoothly. I had several lists and still found it hard to keep everything running well.

"There must be someway out of here said the ~".

“There must be someway out of here said the ~”.

8) Day of the gig.

Check your lists. Be prepared for things to go wrong. Try to stay calm and don’t snap at anyone. If you’re going to have a moment, find a place to chill for a minute.

9) Showtime!

Get out on that stage and play like there’s no tomorrow. Do your thing and do it as best you can. Don’t leave anything behind because this is your moment to prove that you’re worthy to be there!

10) Sell CD’s.

Sell them at a low price and come out into the lobby with the band and sign them. Chat and take pictures and be personable! Leave a sheet they can sign with their email address and contact info. This is really important for future contact.

kelly-on-marque-copyweb

11) Next day.

You’re still not done. Now, you have lots of thank you’s, and last minute payouts and things to do. Don’t just leave your fans forgotten. They are your bread and butter so personally thank as many as you can!

I’m sure there are other things that I’ve forgotten to mention but in general these are the basics. For me, the key to success is not leaving it all to the last minute and more importantly, making sure that everyone is happy.

Go get ‘em!

Aw man, is my fly undone?

Aw man, is my fly undone?

I Lost the Fight with TREK – Part 3

The 3rd and final episode of the ongoing saga regarding my TREK replacement frame ended with the protagonist getting a pump shoved in his front wheel by TREK and sliding on pavement with road cherries.

The new Frame colors.  Not ugly at all.  But not what I wanted.

The new Frame colors. Not ugly at all. But not what I wanted.

Goes so well with my gear.

This is the paint job I was hoping for but lost.

The non Hollywood story is much more anticlimactic with a simple email from TREK Japan that reads:

Hello Kelly,

We are sorry to keep you waiting.

This past week the US customer service manager, APAC customer service manager, sales rep and I discussed and concluded that we cannot replace this frame.

The reason is that the store sold the custom painted frame, and then it was taken home.

However, we are working with the shop on options to help you on their behalf.

The store mentioned that they would like to contact you but have had difficulty contacted your cell phone.

Could we tell them your email address?

We appreciate your patience in working through this!

Regards,

XXXX

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

So I talked to the store out of curiosity what those “options” could be and unfortunately they didn’t lead to a discount.  The store owner just said he looked into finding someone who privately re-paints frames but came up with no one who will do carbon frames. 

So the story ends there.  No riding off into the sunset with a gold medal around my neck on my dream bike.  But, at the end of the day this story is still pretty good.  I love the frame, like the colors and am fortunate to be able to enjoy riding a very, very nice bike.

Read Part Two

Read Part One

TREK Madone 6.5 Replacement Frame Part 2

My baby.  We've been through a lot of miles together.Since my 2012 TREK Madone 6.9 Frame had a crack in the seat stay I had no choice but to give it to my retailer to return it to TREK.  From there, TREK examined the bike and said I was entitled to a replacement frame (which means buying a new frame with a 30% discount off retail price).

"It's nothing Ma, it's just a scratch".Since they don’t make the 2012 frame any more I have to buy a 2013 frame.  So what do I buy?  They don’t make the 6.9 anymore.  The top of the line 6 series is the 6.5.  Do I upgrade to the 7 series?  I do race a lot but I am not a pro cyclist.  After a lot of consideration I decided to get the 6.5.  It’s slightly stronger, hardly any heavier and hopefully will last through all my training and racing for a few years to come.

The new Frame colors.  Not ugly at all.  But not what I wanted.

The new Frame colors. Not ugly at all. But not what I wanted.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Eagar to get the new frame in time for spring training I ordered it from a TREK retailer using the managers iPad to search through Project One frames.  My bad.  When the frame arrived both the store manager and I realized the color scheme was not what we thought it was.  We were both surprised to see purple in the frame color.  Also, during the wait for the frame I did a lot of research on the H1 and H2 frames and wish I had ordered the H1.  So here I have a TREK 6.5 Madone frame that cost a handsome amount of money and I don’t like the color and I don’t like that it’s H2.  To kick myself even more, when it arrived I talked myself into thinking, it’s not really that bad.  But a few sleepless nights wishing I could exchange it got me back to the retailer asking to change it in.  After all, when I spend this kind of money, I want to be 100% satisfied.

When I told the store manager what I wanted to do he hummed and hawed about it.  The Frame has never been out of its box except the one time to look at it.  When he finally said it can’t be done, I emailed TREK directly.  I live in Japan but I emailed TREK USA because I wanted to speak English and make sure there were no misunderstandings. They told me it is possible but needed some more information first.   When I explained that I live in Japan they turned me over to the TREK JAPAN.  The last email I got from TREK JAPAN says:

Hi Kelly,

Thank you for contacting us.

Our sale representative for “Retail Store” already knew your situation and provided the shop with our answer.

Please let us consider what we can do for you.

We will talk with you when the solution is decided. 

Regards, 

Name

I haven’t heard back from them yet (3 weeks later).  But they did call the retail store and try to get them to tell me “No”.  But the retailer couldn’t give a reason why.

I went to another bike store where I’m good friends with the mechanics and they told me all the frames they deal with (ie BMC, Specialized etc) have a return policy if the customer isn’t happy.

Some pondering questions:

1)   Why can’t the frame be exchanged?  It’s brand new and never been used.   It’s not a custom paint job.  It’s a factory chosen color.

2)  TREK USA said it is possible to do.  Why is TREK Japan different?

3)  Is this a TREK policy or is the retailer the one that is refusing to let me exchange the frame?  No one is giving me direct answers (Which is very typical in Japan).

4)  TREK claims to have the best warranty in the business.  My Frame has never been used, and it is a 2013 model.  I simply want to upgrade and spend even more money with TREK.  Why is this not possible?   TREK is the 2nd largest bike company in the world.  Isn’t customer satisfaction important?

I sent the guy at TREK who’s in charge of my case the same questions (but more polite) and have not heard back from them.

This sounded like a good idea when I registered.

Riding my winter bike in a race because my Madone 6.9 had a crack in the seat stay.

NOTE:  Now, I should clarify, I actually do like the frame I have.  More so, if I can exchange it I will.  The goal is to search out all possible angles so that I leave nothing on the table.  When I find the answer either way, I will be satisfied.  🙂

Story to be continued….

Read Part Three Here

Read Part One.