Ten years and counting
So we’re right around the actual ten year anniversary of the first REAL OFB show.
Out of Favor Boys played several shows over the summer of 2003. It was really Danny, Tony and me with various players in the rhythm section. We played with some really great players that summer. And I remember being very excited about it at the time.
But it wasn’t until the fall that we got serious. We auditioned a couple of drummers, having very little luck. We ran into John Ford one night at Francois’. Danny knew him from his student teaching days at Loy Norrix. He pointed us to Kevin Dorcy for drums.
So we played a gig with Kevin and Greg Orr (yes…that Greg Orr) at Francois’. And it was great, but we all knew that Greg was a temporary solution. (If I recall, he was in seven other bands at that time.)
Kevin introduced us to Timmy Brouhard. And really…the rest of 2003 is really a whirlwind. We played Francois’ and Wonderful’s a bunch. We won the KVBA contest and the right to represent Kalamazoo in Memphis.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After we finished our second studio CD, John moved on to other endeavors and Kevin moved to Chicago. Mike Porter joined the band.
When Mike couldn’t make Thursdays work for hosting the Thursday Blues Jam, we got Tim Miller to help us out.
And over the years, many people have filled in for various Out of Favor Boys for one reason or another. We’ve been very fortunate to have guys like Pete Galanis, John Hill, Alex Mays, Johnie Gayden, Coach Ronnie Parker, Dave Cleveland, Dave Allemang and many more be at least a little bit out of favor with us.
It’s been a great first ten years. I wonder what the next ten have in store. I hope to see you at our anniversary party on Nov. 16.
Give me Gumbo or give me… more Gumbo
Gumbo. It’s way more than vegetable soup. Although I’m no historian, I believe it’s actually an inalienable right discussed in the Declaration of Independence. Regardless, it’s a way of life to some and this coming weekend, we all benefit from its existence. It’s time for the Ministry with Community Gumbo Cookoff.
OFB is usually asked to play at a couple of benefits every year. We love non-profit groups. (In fact, we haven’t turned a profit in 10 years as a band.) We generally respect the work that groups like MwC are doing in Kalamazoo so we’re happy to help if we can. Out of Favor Boys has proudly played at all 7 of the previous Gumbo Cookoffs and we’re thrilled to be a part of this one.
It’s going to be a little different this year. It all started at Louie’s, of course. But the event quickly outgrew that venue. They brought in tents to try to make it work, but the last couple of years have just been so very crowded that I think it started to turn people off a little. So…something had to change.
So this year, it’s at a new venue. It’s at The Wild Bull and Monaco Bay in the middle of Downtown Kalamazoo. This is good for the event because it’s a bigger space and so it should be able to accommodate even more people. Selfishly, I’m happy about it because we’ll be inside instead of in a heated tent (which is never as heated at the end of the night as it is during the afternoon) and we’ll be on a stage instead of on cold, wet pavement AND we won’t have to haul or set up our own PA system. (It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN situation as far as I’m concerned.)
Anyway. The event starts at noon and we play from 4 to 7 p.m. Come on down and support a group that does a lot of good for a lot of people who don’t have too many options. Your support on Sunday means a lot.
For more information. www.gotokra.com
Wednesday Night Lights
There’s an awful lot of excitement about tonight. The oddsmakers are hard at work figuring out who’s likely to win…who’s likely to lose. I’m sure that people are already pouring in to the place, taking their seats, taking in the sights and sounds. 8 o’clock…8 o’clock…just can’t wait until 8 o’clock.
And of course there are questions. How will they play? Will they be well-rested…or will they be more rusted? It’s been almost a week since they’ve played. Who’s going to be in the starting lineup? And what about the distractions of playing on such a big stage? Will they be distracted (like A-Rod) by random girls on the sidelines?
The whole situation reminds me of something a baseball coach I know once said. He said, “let’s get another drink and get up there and play some funky blues.”
That coach was Coach Danny Ouellette. And he was talking to the Out of Favor Boys. And I’m sure he’ll say it again tonight as OFB takes the stage at 8 p.m. at Gun Lake Casino.
Well that’s what I’ve been talking about this whole time. What did you think I was talking about?
Show me some of that bread
So this is another busy weekend for the OFBs.
Of course, the weekend starts tonight with the Thursday Blues Jam at The 411 Club (www.the411club.com). Metro Kalamazoo’s finest blues musicians coming together to produce music that’s always new, usually good, sometimes really special, and always fun.
On Friday, we get to rest up for what follows.
Saturday, we have a private party. A wedding in Portage. There’s nothing more special that watching people declare their undying love for one another…and then throwing down to a little “Good Booty and Barbecue.” Touching… But it will be fun. Plus…it’s at the Celery Flats and I think the building is haunted. Or at least…that’s what I heard. Or at least…that’s what I’ve been telling the band to get them all spooked up.
Sunday is going to be awesome. First of all, we’re playing at Bell’s. Which, for some reason, is a rarity for this band. This will be the second time we’ve played there. And…we’re playing for free!
It’s a fundraiser for the Sarkozy Bakery. Maybe you remember what happened back in February. It was a big deal. This place had become a Kalamazoo institution. And now, they hope to do that again.
We usually play a couple of fundraisers each year. This one is different. It’s not for a non-profit organization. It’s not for a festival. It’s not for a new lung or a new pancreas for someone. But it’s for the community. It’s for a local employer. It’s for a producer of a local product that is beloved by local people.
I think that might mean that just by participating in this event, we’re doing more for the local economy than either presidential candidate can boast.
Anyway. Between our bipartisan bread braggery and our thirsty Thursday jammifications…this is shaping up to be a busy weekend.
Competing, against better judgement
So there’s the Kalamazoo Blues Challenge on Sunday (Sept. 23). In 2003, the first year we existed, we entered and won the Kalamazoo contest. We’ve entered a couple other times in Kalamazoo and not made the cut. We competed once in Detroit and made it to the finals, where we won the Fan Favorite award, but came in second in the competition.
Now there’s a lot unsaid up there. I could dog the winners of those contests that I thought we’d won. I could spew hate at the judges whose comments dealt with brand names and booze and not the music. None of it matters, though.
There’s a fundamental problem with contests like this. It’s five individuals subjecting bands to their biases. Five different rulers by which to measure the same bands. It doesn’t make sense. And when you look at judges’ comments, you see that five people are seeing five different things at one time. It’s maddening as a band to try to figure out how to compete in that landscape.
When we won in Kalamazoo, I feel like we played about all the songs we knew. I think we only had two original tunes at that point and we did them both. The rest of that set seems very cliche to me. But…we won. Ever since then, our originals aren’t “blues” enough.
The last time we did the Kalamazoo contest, I think Tony did all the singing. When we competed in Detroit, I did all the singing. The thought was we would give the crowd one vocalist to focus on…to gain rapport with. Both times, the comments were, “why isn’t the other guy singing?”
My point is…it’s a crap shoot with the judges. If we play a funky blues, they’ll call it funk. If we play straight shuffles, they’ll say we were boring. Heh. You can’t win. So…after trying to present a particular flavor of OFB for a contest, we’ve decided to just do what we do. We’ve only been a band for 9 years, but I think we finally feel confident enough in who we are to just be that.
The good news for the other bands is that there’s a good chance the judges aren’t going to think we’re “blues” enough. And we’re not going to give the judges one person to focus on. The bad news is that there’s a chance we’ll be just the right amount of “blues.” And why focus? I think we’ve got the baddest rhythm section in the world…and Tony is unequaled in the realm of saxophonic hijinks.
For tonight, we have to be the opposite of contest-minded. It’s the blues jam. It’s about the music…not about the players. It’s about spontaneous collaboration…not out-doing the next guy. There’s no judges, just people. Just how it’s supposed to be.
Busy weekend for the OFBs
Busy, busy, busy. Followed by more busy. It’s awesome, really.
So the Thursday Jam this week is right in the middle of opening day for the Kalamazoo Blues Festival. Will Stacy Mitchhart come down after his set downtown? I hope so? What if Anthony Gomes or Popa Chubby get into town a night early? Now I’m getting excited. I’m sure that won’t happen…but an Out of Favor Boy can dream, can’t he?
Friday is Friday the 13th, but I’m not afraid. There’s no time to be afraid. I’ll be leaving an all-afternoon meeting at work, driving like a bat out of hell to get to downtown Battle Creek for another exciting Vibe @ 5. We had a great time last year and we’re so excited to be back this year. Mostly, though, I’m just excited the forecast isn’t calling for 105 degrees.
Saturday, OFB isn’t playing. But I’m playing with Marisa and the Mad Cats at the Blues Festival. We’re playing at 12:15, which isn’t really a very prestigious time slot. We’ll probably be playing for a dozen volunteers. It’s me, KVBA president Ralph Yingling on keys, KVBA VP Mike Barker on bass, Chris Yingling on drums and the appropriately named Marisa on vocals. The volunteers are sure to love it. Of course they’re not going to leave either way, so who cares…
Next week is the Return of the Great Hawg Roast over in Metro Detroit. What a great private party that is. I wish all the OFBlog readers could be there. You’d both have so much fun. The party hasn’t happened for a couple of years as the hosts decided to put party money toward college tuition…or something. I suppose it’s a good decision. I can’t wait to see the pictures of the pig this year…
There’s talk of OFB on the mall the weekend after that? Hmm…sounds interesting. Stay tuned.
The summer is starting to heat up
It’s shaping up to be another glorious summer here at OFB headquarters. The regular summer shows are coming up and there’s more on the way.
We’ve got the summer kickoff – the Vicksburg H.S. teacher end-of-year party. Those teachers get a little nutty when the final bell rings. There’s the UKC Dog Show later in June. We play as everyone’s settling in for the weekend. If you’re a dog-lover, it’s a fun event for the family. We just booked a slot on Father’s Day at the Ft. Wayne BBQ Rib Festival. We’ve got private parties, the Vibe @ 5 in Battle Creek, and The Return of the Great Hawg Roast over on the east side of the state.
A while ago, I talked about looking forward to the night with Tab Benoit. This is different than that because it’s all us. It’s about looking forward to spending a lot of time with four guys who I like very much and have a great amount of respect for as musicians. We get to play our own music…our own way…and we get to do it a lot in the summer.
For two of the guys who are high school teachers, summer’s maybe a bigger deal because it’s a ten week break from the grind. It’s not that for me. If anything, the grind is harder for me because it’s easier for them. (That makes sense if you come watch us on a Thursday night during the summer. The number of drinks always seems to increase for everyone…not just those who have the day off on Friday.)
But it’s still more playing. It’s spending more time on stage with a guitar in hand. And whether or not you have to work the next day…I don’t think it gets much better than that.
Worse than Christmas…
So my wife was up at 6 today to go to work. I couldn’t go back to sleep.
I just woke my stepson up so he could get ready for school. But he doesn’t have school today.
That sucks. But it’s not my fault. Last night’s jam was ridiculous, and tonight we play the State Theatre, opening for Tab Benoit. Clearly, I’m not thinking straight. I’d say it’s like Christmas, but on Christmas morning, you don’t have to go to work for 8 hours before you get to open your presents. So today is going to be worse than Christmas for me because that’s exactly what I have to do.
Last night’s jam was the Second Annual Boogie Bob Peters Memorial Jam. A lot of Bob’s friends and family were there. There was just a great feeling on the stage and in the bar as a whole. It was really nice to see some long lost faces. It was just a nice kickoff to the weekend…
The longest week ever…
It’s like it’s four days before Christmas for a kid. It’s like it’s four days before New Year’s Eve for a 21 year-old. It’s only four more days until we play at the State Theatre to open up for Tab Benoit, but it seems like it’s going to take forever to get here.
Ever since we booked the gig, I’ve been looking forward to this Friday. Playing at the State Theatre is always a thrill. It’s the one gig where we’re really treated like “real” touring musicians. They’ve got guys who help carry your stuff on and off stage. They worry about the sound. They worry about the lights. All we have to worry about is getting there on time and doing what we do on stage.
But wait…there’s more…
We’re opening for Tab Benoit. He’s a guy I never get tired of seeing. First of all, his guitar playing and singing are phenomenal. He’s a BMA winner, for crying out loud. But then…he’s also one of the coolest, most laid-back guys I’ve ever met. I guess I don’t know many people from the Bayou…maybe they’re all cool and laid-back. Last time we saw him we got to talking about his plane. Oh yeah…he’s a pilot, too.
I just decided that Tab Benoit is the coolest person I’ve ever met.
Of course, after we play at the State, we head over to The 411 for the rest of the night. Maybe Tab will come down…maybe he won’t. Either way, I’m really looking forward to a night of musical highlights for the Out of Favor Boys.