TIMELINE - 2000's
How we got to where we are now...
2000 - After two years of working with a real estate developer and doing temp jobs on the side, Dennis starts the new millennium with a career shift to healthcare supporting a world-renown neurosurgeon as his office and research assistant. He continues taking guitar lessons at the Chicago music landmark, the Old Town School of Folk Music and stats playing out at open mic nites at Old Town School and at pubs around Chicago covering songs by his favourite musicians and bands - Blue Rodeo, Peter Himmelman, Bruce Guthro, John Hiatt, The Tragically Hip, Fleetwood Mac, and even ABBA. Over the next couple of years, he becomes a regular at Vaughan's Pub in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Chicago. There, he meets singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tony Calderisi and drummer/percussionist/soccer enthusiast Chris "Coz" Costello, who together host Vaughan's Tuesday nite open mics. They become casual acquaintances and even back Dennis up on an occasional song or two. The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts on his birthday this year is Enrique Iglesias' "Be With You."
2007 - Dennis turns 40 and has the dreaded existential mid-life crisis. Time is seemingly running out on him to finally chase a dream he's had for many years and he realizes that if he doesn't do it now, he's never going to do it. He wants to write songs and make a record. Using the Old Town School of Folk Music's First Friday Songwriter's Circle as a sounding board, he spends the next year writing in earnest. Later in the year, he approaches Tony and Coz at Vaughan's and asks them if they'd be his back-up band. They agree. The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts on his birthday this year is Rhianna and Jay-Z's "Umbrella."
2008 - Dennis and his band, dubbed the Occasional Canadians, begin work in Tony's home studio on what will become the album, "Letters from Broken Street," They record on weekends thruout the year and into the first half of 2009. Dennis works two part-time jobs to be able to pay for the sessions, in addition to his regular full-time work as the office manager of a neurosciences centre for a major Chicagoland area hospital. He spends most of the year exhausted but happy that he's finally working on this dream. The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts on his birthday this year is Coldplay's "Viva la Vida."
2009 - "Letters From Broken Street" is released in October. It features four self-penned songs and four cover songs. One of the cover songs is the 1993 Blue Rodeo hit, "Five Days In May." Blue Rodeo plays at a small club in Chicago one evening in November. He takes a copy of the CD to the venue and waits outside the band's tour bus, which is parked on the street in front of the club. Dennis wanted to get a ticket, but it sold out too quickly. He approaches someone coming out of the bus and does a quick introduction: he tells this person that he'd like to give the band a copy of "Broken Street" because he covered their song. The man takes it back into the bus. After 15 minutes, the man (turns out to be one of Blue Rodeo's managers) comes back out and says the band says "thank you" for covering their song. He asks if Dennis is going to the show, but he says no because he didn't get a ticket in time. The manager pulls a ticket out of his pocket and hands it to Dennis. After the show, Dennis meets the band. They autograph the band's new album, "The Things We Left Behind," for him. They take pictures, chat, and Jim Cuddy (founding member and one of the band's two lead singers) wishes Dennis well before they pile into their bus to head back to Canada. (That autographed album cover hangs on Dennis' living room wall today.) The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts on his birthday this year is The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow."