Other People's Money - About
Rock 'n roll as you knew it!
WHO: Jeff Album, Delta Dental public affairs director;
BY DAY: Springhill, Stanley and Acalanes dads and businessmen
MOONLIGHT AS: Rock and roll musicians in the band OPM (Other People's Money). Album is the band's utility player, wielding the sax, guitar, banjo and mandolin, or singing backup vocals. Cannon does lead vocals, with bassist Velken and guitarists Chan and Frazer, and McCann plays drums.
PASSION OR OBSESSION: "Passion. We're too busy for it to be an obsession," says Frazer. "Everybody has the same set of priorities. Kids, family first. But music's up there," says Album.
INSPIRATION: "This started as an all-Schwab band," says Chan. It was six years ago that this group of then-Charles Schwab staffers first dusted off their Stratocasters for a company party. The brokers, analysts and directors were such a hit, they nicknamed themselves OPM - "Other People's Money," Phyllis Frazer explains mischievously. McCann is a more recent member. "They heard I could carry heavy amps," he says. McCann put himself through college playing gigs but, like many of his colleagues, he hadn't played in years. Instead, he spent 25 years drumming on his knees and table tops, until he bought himself a drum set again. "I used to drive my family nuts, drumming on everything," he says. "My wife said, 'If this is going to be your midlife crisis, it's cheaper than a Porsche.'"
NOW: These days, OPM plays neighborhood parties, school events and the occasional bar gig, but their big passion is fundraising for local schools. The band is a popular school auction item. Between the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation, and Springhill, Glorietta and Murwood elementary school fundraisers, they figure they've raised about $20,000 for schools.
THE BEST THINGS: It's an activity that combines rock music, friendship and philanthropy. Plus, there's the matter of Phyllis Frazer's rehearsal refreshments. Velken puts that first on his list of "best things about being in a rock band," followed by the band being "something completely different from the normal routine. It's an absolute blast, horsing around with your friends. It makes you feel young again." Album agrees, "It's a break from the cares of middle aged life." And, of course, there's the cool factor. "The other dads at Springhill all want to be in the band," says Phyllis.
THE HARDEST THING: The band tries to practice every week, "but with all the kid activities, it's challenging," says Chan. It is not unusual for Thursday night practice to be pre-empted by Springhill elementary school's Open House, or a kid's lacrosse or soccer game - the dads coach various youth sports teams, too.
WHAT DRIVES YOUR FAMILY NUTS: "Our wives don't have anyone to dance with (at fundraisers) ," says Frazer. "But it's hard to think of fundraising that would be more fun."
THE HOURS: Rehearsals every Thursday night at the Frazers, and one or two gigs a month. The band is booked through Christmas.
THE LINGO: They all suffer from guitar acquisition syndrome -G.A.S., says Phyllis.
THE COST: The band members already had most of their equipment and instruments, but they are notorious for their eBay surfing, looking for that ultimate Stratocaster ($200-$1,500, though a coveted vintage Stratocaster can hit the stratosphere) or a left-handed, three-quarter size bass for one of their kids. Most of their performances are freebies for charity events, but the bar gigs bring in cash. “Of course, the equipment acquirers re-invest it," Album say
THE TOOLS: Musical instruments, repertoire, beer and great food. The band has a play list of about 50 covers, highly danceable rock and roll from their own teen years -the Eagles, Rolling Stones, ZZ Top - and a sampling of more recent material. "I don't know any Linkin Park," Frazer says. "That 50 Cent stuff is hard too," Chan adds, to a chorus of laughter.