New Release – It All Comes Back

The It All Comes Back EP is our fourth recording, our third studio effort, and it’s full of songs we’re proud of and excited to have out there.

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over-3We started recording it way back in 2008 or 2009. This wound up being a very busy time for us, individually. A couple of us got married. A couple of us had kids. And life just sort of got in the way of recording.

It happens.

It was during these sessions, though, that we had an idea about recording a night at The 411 Club in Kalamazoo. We figured we’d get one or two live tracks to add to the end of this group of studio recordings.

Well that night of recording turned into its own double-live CD, 7.18.9.

So after releasing the live CD, enjoying life, getting kids out of diapers, Mike Roche at Broadside Productions contacted us to remind us that we had seven songs taking up his storage space. Ha.

So finally, in late 2015, we got back into his studio to dust off these songs. We added fiddles and trombones and trumpets and accordions. And on a couple of songs, my God, did we add saxophones. I could write a whole other article about the night Tony wanted to punch me in the nose because I sort of made him record ten sax tracks on one song.

In 2016, we made a couple of trips to Chicago to work with Pete Galanis at 3011 Studios. We re-recorded a few tracks and added a few little things to complete these songs and we’re very happy with the final product.

It’s funny, though, listening and playing these “old songs” today. Some of the lyrics come from a pretty dark place. Actually, a really dark place. They were written as part of some sort of creative therapy. And it feels like I’m very far removed from that darkness anymore. But it’s sad to think about me being there. Every once in a while, I listen to a lyric and cringe. “Wow, that was me.”

We’re really happy with the way this EP turned out. We decided to release it only digitally, which also feels a little odd. We’ll print up some CDs eventually. But for now, most of our sales have been downloads so we’re going to run with that for a while.

I hope you enjoy the songs. Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening.

It’s a sad time, but a good time to remember

So in the last week, we lost Michael Burks and Donald “Duck” Dunn. This year, we’ve lost Etta James, Whitney Houston, Davey Jones and Levon Helm. It’s been a rough year for music so far. That’s a couple of hugely influential female voices, the bass player who provided the foundation for some of the greatest songs in rock and roll, probably the best singing drummer of all time, one of the best guitarists to surface in the blues in the recent past, and an actor who wound up being a singer  who wound up meaning an awful lot to a lot of people.

It’s easy to be complacent. I’ve been a complacent musician in the past. Stood on the stage and gone through the motions. When you go to work all day and then you chase kids around all evening and then you hustle around to get to the gig, sometimes I think it’s easy to put yourself on auto-pilot.

It’s not fair, though. It’s not fair to the people who come to the gig. It’s not fair to the other guys on stage. Most of all…it’s not fair to the music. The songs deserve better than that.

I have to remember, and weeks like this are a good reminder, how much I wanted to be on that stage. I have to remember how many people want to be on that stage. I have to remember that along with whatever talent I have, I’m also very lucky to have fallen in with a good bunch of guys.  I have to remember how lucky we’ve been to be where we are in this town.

But mostly, I have to remember how it feels to play that one note. The one you can’t name, but you know it when you play it. It’s the one that you feel in your toes. The one that makes you close your eyes because you feel it in the middle of your chest and it feels so good and it feels so bad and right and heartbreaking and completely joyful all at the same time.

It’s the one that I found when I started playing guitar for the second time that told me to keep playing. It’s the one that brought me back to the guitar after sort of putting it down during my first marriage. It’s the one that reminds me how it felt to hold my son for the first time. It’s the one that reminds me that I’m alive.

And so I guess that’s the point. Michael Burks was ridiculous with a guitar in his hands. He could say it all with one note. And he worked himself to death just to play. That really is how good it is to play. And so I hope that’s what he’ll help me to remember.

A nice restful spring

Don’t be fooled by the calendar. I know all you see right now is Thursday Blues Jams. But summer is on its way.

March was so exciting with the Gumbo Cookoff, the State Theatre show and jamming with Tab Benoit. It’s really hard to sustain that sort of schedule here in Kalamazoo, though. I mean…the State Theatre doesn’t want us hanging around there all the time. And Tab…Tab doesn’t even return our calls anymore.

So throughout April, we get to rest and practice and figure some things out for the summer. We’ve got some good things coming up. Summer parties, first of all. We’re making our return to Clinton Twp. with the Great Hawg Roast (semi-private party). I know there are two other parties on our calendar right now. We’re also working on two or three other mystery shows that I’m not at liberty to discuss at this time. (Largely because I don’t know anything about them.)

So anyway. Come enjoy the Blues Jams with us. Enjoy the Tigers games. Enjoy the Red Wings playoffs. The OFB Summer Schedule will be in full effect soon enough. And then, there will be no rest for anybody.

Back to normal…such as it is

So we’re almost two weeks after the State Theatre show now and things are starting to get back to normal. The post ST jam with Tab Benoit is still lingering in my mind a little. And the late-night-early-morning talk with Tab still seems a bit surreal.

But it’s back to normal. We’re still hosting the Thursday Blues Jam at The 411 Club every Thursday. We’ve got some good stuff coming up. Gun Lake Casino, the UKC dog show and then, of course, all the usual summer fun. Even though it’s felt like summer lately, I really can’t wait until the usual summer parties start.

Are you tired of me, yet? You should go to our website and contact some other Out of Favor Boys and tell them to start blogging. They don’t listen to me…

Gumbo Hangover

In case you missed it, the 7th Annual Gumbo Cookoff for Ministry With Community was last weekend.  They say it was the biggest, best one yet. From our perspective, it was great as usual.

We tried to keep the tents warmed up while Small Town Son did their thing inside (where it was already warm). I’m not good at estimating, but I would say at least 7,000 people were there and we must have consumed upwards of 10 million gallons of gumbo. (Refer elsewhere for actual numbers.)

Honestly, it was a great day and a lot of money was raised for a really great cause. We were, as always, thrilled to be a part of it. Thanks to Bill Sarkozy for inviting us to the party…again. As long as he keeps inviting us…we’ll keep doing what we do.

Thanks to all of you who donated and attended.

Let’s get back to work, shall we?

The weather and roads fought us, but we had a good night at the 411 on Friday night anyway. Neither Motor City Josh nor Harper showed up…but that’s cool. With the weather being what it was, I was surprised to see anyone there…let alone those guys. I mean…Harper’s from Australia, which is a long drive from Kalamazoo.  I’m not sure where this Motor City is where Josh lives. Probably Ohio.

Anyway…now we’re back to business. Thursday Night Blues jam this week. We’ve got a date up at Gun Lake Casino coming up. Then the Gumbo Cookoff. Then it’s practically summer and we can really get back to work.*

In the coming weeks watch for an email promotion and a newly redesigned website. Actually, I haven’t asked the guys about the promotion yet, so don’t watch too hard for that. But the website is almost done.

And we’re still in the middle of our third studio CD (which Danny want’s to call Chinese Democracy II in honor of his hero, Izzy Stradlin).

Ok. Gotta run. Until next time…

*I have a similar theory to get myself through the winter. By the time I really feel depressed about the weather, it’s February. February is a short, short month, so it’s not that big a deal. And then…before you know it…it’s March. I tell you, once St. Patty’s Day hits, you can practically smell spring in the air…

…Echoes in your head

Tinnitus has become my constant companion. It’s the first to greet me every morning. It pierces the precious silence when I go to bed. It’s really becoming kind of a pain in the ass.

Now it’s far from debilitating for me at this point. I can still go about my business during the day. There’s enough background noise, conversation, TV and radio to distract me from it. But sometimes when I’m sitting in my office at work, it reminds me that I’m not alone.

There are many possible causes, but for me it’s no surprise. I’ve been an electric guitarist for going on 21 years now. For almost 20 of them, I’ve spent a little time every week in really loud environments. I’ve always been on the stage-right of the band, so it’s no surprise that my left ear is far worse off than my right.  For eight years, with OFB, I’ve had a drummer just over my left shoulder. Until the last few years, I never really wore ear protection at all. And if you were there, and you think back to some nights at Wonderful’s, you have to understand that only a fool would be in there without ear protection.

I’m starting to experience some hearing loss, too.  Again, there are many who are much worse off than I am. But it’s starting. Background noise is starting to become a bit of a problem for me when I’m trying to have a conversation.

Of course, it’s a problem of my own making. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m blaming drummers for this.) I’ve always used tube amps. And tube amps ALWAYS sound better when they’re louder. I got a new Deluxe Reverb RI a few months ago and I’m in love with the way it sounds. Of course, I’m in love with it when the volume knob is set at 3 and above…which is blindingly loud.

Anyway. I’m seeing a specialist in February. As I go through it, I’ll try to record my thoughts here. Maybe it will help other local musicians? I mean…not as much as earplugs…

Joel Krauss