DSW: How much “weekend” is too much in Thursday’s coffee?

Dear Secret Weapon, 
If I don’t leave right now, I’m going to be late for work. But I need to know how much Bailey’s should I add to my coffee this morning?

What a great question. You’ll be shocked to know that it’s actually a question I ask myself just about every morning.

First, the official response: In case this question was asked by my boss, the answer is “none, of course.” You can’t go to work with booze in your coffee. Unless, I suppose, you walk to work and your work at a bar and your boss is really cool. For the other 99.5% of you out there…the answer is just “none.”

Now my boss never reads this far into anything I write, so I can start to get real with you.

Listen, I love my weekend coffee. Mrs. Weapon and I always have a bottle of Bailey’s in the fridge and we usually have a backup on hand. We run out of half-and-half all the time, but we always have Bailey’s at the ready. That’s how much we love our weekend coffee.

But you have to be reasonable about your weekend coffee at the same time. You can’t mix it too heavy. You don’t want your coffee to turn into a slippery nipple, for crying out loud.  You don’t want a noontime hangover because you had too much…coffee. So exercise good judgement. If that’s hard for you, invest in a good jigger and limit yourself to just one (or two…three if necessary) doses.

Now that’s all for the actual weekend. During the week is a different story.

Look, you simply can’t drive to work while drinking a loaded coffee. So that’s the first issue with the whole question. There are legal and safety implications and OFB’s Legal department won’t let me wade into any of that. So…don’t be dumb.

But there are other practical concerns. Say you’re at a staff meeing first thing. Do you really think Jane from accounts payable can’t smell the booze? Of course she can. Good old Jane has a super-sniffer. She’ll turn on you like a batch of fake receipts on an expense report.

Your coworkers also might think it odd when you’re slurping every. last. drop. of your coffee out of your to-go cup. Like…it’s gone, dude. It’s over. Stop slurping, you’re grossing everyone out.

Your boss will most certainly notice your 1 p.m. naps.

So I guess, in the end, my answer is that it’s probably not a good idea to add any Bailey’s to your coffee during the week. There are too many possible HR actions in the mix and let’s face it, you’re not going to get buzzed on loaded coffee, anyway. Save the booze for after work and save your day-drinking for the weekend.

Note: I’m glad I didn’t write this 15 years ago when the band started because the answer would have been something like, “fill up with coffee, add Bailey’s to taste and have a great Thursday, dude.” That’s just not right…probably…

Do you have a question for the Secret Weapon? Ask it at outoffavorboys.com/contact-us.

Bad radio…or just bad songs?

A couple of songs are in heavy rotation on the radio these days, and they’re both sort of making me mad.

Rude, by Magic
This song sounds fun enough. Reggae always does. It’s about someone…a kid…madly in love with a girl. So it’s like 80% of all the songs ever written. The kid approaches his true love’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. So cool. I’ve never done that and I wish that I would have.

But here’s what gets me. Dad says “no.” That should mean drama is ahead, but it doesn’t. All this stupid kid can say is “why you gotta be so rude? I’m gonna marry her anyway.”

Are you kidding me? Someone stands in the way of true love and you criticize their etiquette and sulk away.

I’m either mad at the band for being wimps or mad at reggae for being too happy to facilitate real emotion. I think there have been a couple of pretty big reggae acts who wrote emotional tunes…so I must be mad at the band.

Honey I’m Good, by Andy Grammar
You kind of can’t escape this little nugget on pop radio right now. It sort of infuriates me on a couple of levels.

  1. My kids love it and the word “ass” is in there a couple of times.
  2. It’s a hoedown squaredance song and I can’t believe anyone likes it – especially my kids.
  3. I’m going to be spending some nights away from my wife this summer.

You see, his words eventually say “no,” but the whole song appears to be about the reasons he wants to say “yes.” Even though he has “somebody at home,” this guy is apparently one drink away from shacking up with some chick at the bar. Some chick who looks good with long legs and “that ass,” no less.

I know it’s just pop songwriting…catchy melodies and hooks. It’s probably good. I know it’s hard to do.

But there’s no heart in these songs. Where is the love?

These songs reinforce my love for songwriters like Anders Osborne and John Hiatt. They remind me that the length isn’t nearly the only difference between pop music and blues.

Here’s a favorite from Anders Osborne. Summertime in New Orleans.

What I learned from Willie Nelson.

I went to the Willie Nelson show last night at the State Theatre. I saw him a few years ago when he played at Miller Auditorium. I think that place is too nice for Willie Nelson. The State was perfect, though. It was hot and crowded and Willie was much loved.

I was brought to tears two times during the show. Not because anything was sad. Willie may be old, but he’s far from decrepit. There were just times when I was watching him play that beat up old Martin guitar when I was just deeply touched. There’s some wild abandon in his playing.  I never really appreciated it before, but it was incredible last night.

Aside: That reminds me of Meditations by John Coltrane.  The first time I listened to it, everything was just right. I had never heard anything like it and it completely rocked me. Every time I’ve listened to it since then it just sounds like noise to me.

Anyway. Back to Willie. Here’s what I learned last night.

Time is a human construct and it is the artist’s right and privilege to screw around with it. On any given night, I will play with time a little bit. I will change a strumming pattern to fall directly out of sync with the drummer or bass player. I’ll sing a line behind the beat. Or I’ll syncopate a line in a solo or something. But those instances are momentary. And there’s nothing chaotic about it. I’m still feeling things out around the beat of the drum. That is child’s play compared to an evening with Willie Nelson. Every song he sings is sung with a cadence that is more conversational than musical. And his guitar playing is frantic at times and he plays “the next chord” half a measure early which is the kind of thing that doesn’t usually work for me.

Songs matter. Willie played for an hour and a half or something like that. I think there were two piano solos and two harmonica solos all night. He took three or four solos, probably. That’s it. The longest song he played was maybe four minutes.

Willie just turned 80 years old. I’ll turn 40 this year. I’m half his age but there’s no way I’m half as cool as Willie. And I’m not talking about all the pot smoking. That’s all fine, but I’ve never thought that made anyone cool. But the songs that have lived in his head are amazing.

Jobs, music and the journey

So there are two (or maybe three) times in my life when I remember being 100% satisfied with my work life.

The first was in Detroit when I was working as a web developer. Seems like a long time ago now. I think it was a combination of spending so much time in a part of Downtown Detroit that was pulsing with life. Greektown was right across Gratiot. Comerica Park was being built a few blocks in the other direction. It seemed vibrant. The lofts that held our offices were rustic/retro/techy. I don’t know…it was perfect. And the people I worked with had become real friends.

Flash forward ten years. Newly returned to Kalamazoo and I found myself working in a call center. (That wasn’t satisfying in any way other than being able to pay rent and buy food.) But I worked my way off of the phones and into a cubicle. (So far this doesn’t sound great, does it?) But I got to get back to working on a website and back to my English major roots as an editor. Again, I really enjoyed the work and became friends with my colleagues.

(Note: It is only with the perspective that time offers that I can say I was satisfied by this job. At the time, I felt suffocated by the corporate-ness of it, drowning in beige cubicle walls, blinded by the fluorescence of the office building.)

There was a job in between, when I lived in Chicago, that I really can almost put in this category. I worked at a cigar store in Old Town Chicago. The woman I worked for was (and still is) an eccentric artist. A bulldog of a woman, demanding respect in her little corner of Chicago. The guys who worked at the shop were (and still are) quirky and awkward, but all incredibly patient and mostly kind. I miss those guys. I miss standing around smoking cigars at work. I miss trying to talk pretty girls out for a Friday night into trying expensive French cigarettes. I miss the sweet, humid smell of cedar and raw tobacco on my clothes when I get home.

(Note: It is only with the perspective that time offers that I can say I enjoyed this job. At the time, I felt like I was wasting my time, wasting my talents, wasting myself. I wanted something more and I let that make me miserable.)

The constant through all of this has been music. In Detroit, I got my first paying gig as sideman to a French Canadian bluesman living in the northern suburbs. More importantly, I was in my first real band. A new-country sort of band with Scott Daily. He’s now playing with (and married to) Carolyn Striho, who’s been busy earning Detroit Music Awards nominations.

In Chicago,  I was in a kick-ass rock band with Sherrie Adams. Sherrie is fierce. She will kick your ass. I thought she was just a hot chick with a killer voice until I worked with her in the studio and I realized that was probably as close as I would ever get to a real professional vocalist. She’s out in LA now, making her way…

I started writing this today as a response to an email from an old friend. But it’s made me realize (once again) how lucky I am to be where I am. I often think about how all the paths tangle their way to here. A failed marriage, a career in the dot-com industry just as that bubble burst, professional flailings in Chicago. That all really sucked an awful lot. But there was also reel-to-reel recording in Scott’s basement. Learning Foo Fighters and STP songs and playing them really loud in Chicagoland. I’ve met and played with living blues legends here in Kalamazoo. So much good.

And it all led me here. The people and events of the past brought me here. They brought me home to Kalamazoo. They led me to meet my wife and start this incredible family. They brought me to this band that I love, meeting legends, writing and recording music we love. It’s so good.

I miss my friends in Detroit and Chicago. I hope they’re well. Who knows where I’d be without them.

Movember is coming! Movember is coming!

If you’ve watched any professional football this October, you certainly know that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pink is all over the place. Towels and referees and goalies, oh my. I’m watching the Red Wings right now and the goalie mask and pads are mostly pink.

I think it’s great that people (burly men, nonetheless) can come together to show their support of such an important cause. In the last few years, breast cancer awareness must have increased many times over.

I think one reason the movement has been successful because…well…everyone loves breasts. I mean…breasts are great. But what do men’s health issues have going for them?

Consider the lowly prostate gland. Nobody ever said, “wow that is a great looking prostate.” Most people wouldn’t even know where to look for it and fewer care to. And don’t get me started on the testicle. Utilitarian and necessary, maybe, but there’s nothing beautiful about it.

My point is…men’s health needs all the help they can get.

Our rather handsome Movember team from 2012

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health issues…specifically testicular cancer and prostate cancer. (For 2013, they’ve added a “mental health” aspect as well.) And where breast cancer has pink ribbons, Movember has…incredible moustaches. All month long, Mo-bros tend to their upper lips in the name of men’s health.

This year, I’m inviting the extended OFB family to join the cause. If you’d like to be a part of it, here’s all you have to do.

  1. Create a profile at movember.com
  2. Join the Kzoo Blues team
  3. Shave on Nov. 1
  4. Tend to your upper lip all month long

Really that’s it. As far as I can tell, if you post pictures of your moustache (whether it’s awesome or thin and laughable) on your Facebook page and then link to your Movember page so people can donate…they will. Ladies (or Mo-sistas) can join the team, too. Since the whole thing is about awareness and Facebook reaches more people than any single moustaches…you get my point. I mean, grow a lady-stache if you want…it’s your lip.

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of crafting a cookie duster for a whole month, I hope you’ll at least consider donating to the team. The cause is a good one.

This week in OFB history

Usually, when I write a “this week in OFB history” thing in an email, it’s just an excuse to post pictures of a gig we played back in 2004 or something. But this week, something really cool happened in OFB history.

This week in 1973, a child was born. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a…crib. He was a baby and that’s where you put them…even way back in the 70s.

He grew up right around the corner from a gazebo where Bob Seger allegedly got married one time. One of his high school jobs was working security at Detroit Tiger Stadium and we’re proud to say that no Detroit Tigers or radio personalities were ever harmed during his tenure. One of his hobbies in high school was dressing up as superhero-turned-high-school-mascot, Mariner Man

In college, he once sneaked a case of Molson Canadian bottles into his dorm room in a classical guitar case. (Did you know that a case of beer bottles is too much weight for a classical guitar case? You have to sort of hug the case and carry it like a three year old child…which is not how most people carry a guitar case that has a handle.) He also sneaked a Bud Light party ball into his dorm room in an old hockey bag. (Did you know that when a party ball is in your hockey bag, you don’t so much “carry” it as “lug” it with both hands? Subtlety has never been a strong suit.)*

Like a modern day Johnny Appleseed, when he was a young man he planted trees throughout the I-94 corridor with Ragnon the Viking Warrior.

He used to drive across the state to play a mid-week gig with his band and then drive back across the state in the middle of the night to make it to his day job. He was a member of the Crossroads Blues band. He co-founded Six Ways South and The Union before co-founding Out of Favor Boys.

He’s crashed half of the convertibles he’s owned and managed to walk away. He was an outlaw biker on a bike that should have been outlawed. He’s lucky to be alive. And we’re very happy he’s made it this far.

May 29 is Danny Ouellette’s 40th birthday. Go find him and give him a hug.

* Out of Favor Boys does not recommend drinking Molson Canadian and Bud Light in your dorm rooms. Don’t be like us. Be better than us.

Busy February for the OFBs

Looks like we’re in the middle of a couple of busy weeks here at OFB Headquarters.

Last weekend, we were in the studio wrapping up tracks on one of Danny’s songs for the new CD. We had Guillermo Martinez from Los Bandits there on accordion. I played a few guitar lines on a classical guitar. Tony laid down some ridiculous backporch country blues vocals. It was really a great, productive afternoon.

This weekend, we’re looking at at a Brews and Blues type party out at Timber Ridge. Nothing says “I got the blues” like falling down on skis a million times, so I’m really looking forward to that. We played there a couple years ago and had a blast, so we’re really looking forward to Saturday (Feb. 16).

Then next weekend, we’re at The 411 Club on Friday night. We’ll be there when everything wraps up at The State Theatre show featuring Tab Benoit and the Bryan Michael Fischer Band. Sometimes Tab comes down after he plays the State so that would be fun. But…of course…no promises. But either way, that night promises to be a lot of fun for us.

And of course, coming up in March is the 8th Annual Gumbo Cookoff for Ministry with Community. It got too big for Louie’s, so it’s moved to a new location this year. It’s at the Wild Bull right in the middle of Downtown Kalamazoo. OFB will be set up in Monaco Bay, actually. But it’s all connected and it’s going to be a great time. The last few years, it’s been very cold and wet when we finished things up, so it will be nice to be in a real, heated building all day long this year. Make sure you plan to come out that day to support a really great cause.

Mid-Movember OFB Update

So I don’t usually like to get emotional or persuasive in this space. It’s really a place to check out music, pictures and see where OFB is going to be. But…it’s Movember.

Last year, I grew a mustache for Movember mostly so I could grow a mustache. Sometime in mid-October, my mom had just gotten her breast cancer diagnosis and maybe that had a little to do with it. But I was really just watching a Red Wings game and heard about this Movember thing and decided to give it a try.

Then I realized…I’m 39 years old. At age 40, we’re supposed to start getting things checked out on a regular basis. And by “checked out,” I mean exactly what you think I mean. It’s uncomfortable and a little bit funny and nobody likes it. But it’s one of those things that comes with age, like achy mornings and early nights.

I saw a statistic this week that shocked me. The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is greater than the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer. I believe that prostate cancer is generally more survivable than breast cancer, but the number shocked me nonetheless. No matter how you look at it, a lot of men and women get that bad news every year.

Movember proceeds to to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and to LiveSTRONG. So part goes to research, which is great. But the part that I like is the part that goes to help survivors. Cancer survivors and their families need all the support they can get so I’m proud to support a group like LiveSTRONG that serves that community.

Please go check out Team OFB’s MoSpace page. Donate if you can. If you can’t…encourage the men (of a certain age) in your life to get checked. And after they get checked…give them a hug. They’ll need one.

Before Magic Mike…there was Mighty Mike

There’s a lot of hype out there right now about that Magic Mike movie. Big deal. I mean, it’s pretty much ripped right out of my own autobiography. There’s a chapter in there about when I met Mighty Mike Porter.

A lot of people don’t know that I met Mighty Mike when I got my first job at a male exotic dance club. Mighty Mike was the veteran dancer that pulled all us new guys aside to show us the ropes. You know…how to effectively work a bachelorette party or how to spot the hot-to-trot divorcees out to spend their ex-husbands’ salaries. Mike was really awesome at it. He probably could have started a school for wayward dancers and made a huge impact on the industry.

But then Mike decided to get out of the exotic entertainment business and he bought his first drum kit.

Turns out he’s a better drummer than dancer anyway…

Brand new day…brand new website

If you can see this post, then you’re probably looking at the newly redesigned website for OFB. I hope you’re as excited as I am, although I’m sure you are not.

The features of this version are largely the same as the last version. There’s the calendarphotos and videos of the band. You can still buy our CDs online and now you can listen to entire songs from our CDs here as well. There’s links to all our social media sites on the right side there. And there’s an opportunity to get on our email list on almost every page on the site.

The biggest change is the blog…which you’re reading right now. So far, it’s all me, but Danny and Tony are also authors, so you may occasionally see posts from them.

Enjoy the new videos and songs. Buy a CD or two if you haven’t already. And by all means check out the calendar and come find us.  There’s good stuff coming up