In Oxford: The Love Handles to Perform in Concert

John Demeyer (left), Mark Oesau, Stephen Desrosiers, Jill Bonnett, Derek Bonnett and Israel Perez are the Love Handles, a band of self-described “day care dads” (and one mom) who will play their first headliner this Saturday night, November 9, at The Office on Old Route 67 in Oxford.

OXFORD — The Love Handles, a band formed by a group of self-described “day care dads,” will perform their first headliner Saturday, November 9, at The Office, 35 Old State Road 67 in Oxford. Derek Bonnett and Israel Perez of Oxford and Southbury residents Steve Desrosiers, John Demeyer and Mark Oesau first met while dropping their young children off at Great Expectations, a Southbury day care. As their children became friends, the five dads did too, spending time together at birthday parties and other events.

When Derek turned 40, he invited the day care dads to help him celebrate. When the topic of music came up, a couple of the guys mentioned that they used to play guitar; another said he played the drums. Derek said he didn’t play an instrument, but he might like to sing.

Mark suggested that the five of them should get together and see what they could come up with. John offered his home as a practice venue.

Reflecting on the fact that none of them were quite as fit as they used to be, Derek said if they ever became a band, they should call themselves “the Love Handles.”

“That was about two years ago,” said Derek. “We started with a handful of songs. We didn’t really know if it would click, but then we realized we weren’t that bad.”

The group’s first real gig was at a friend’s summer barbecue, where they played eight or nine songs to good reviews. Looking to build a following, they made themselves available for private parties, mostly for friends and family.

Then last winter, ShotDown, a country band started by two Sikorsky employees, asked the Love Handles to open for them at a local bar.

“That gave us a leg up,” said Derek. “We played out with them in January and May and we got a nice response. It was very encouraging to us. It made us want to get more songs and play on our own.”

Over the summer, the Love Handles doubled down, “stepped on the gas” and built up their set list. Continuing to meet at John’s house, they practiced every week.

When they had a good 50 songs under their belt, they reached out to The Office, the Oxford bar where they’d opened for ShotDown, and said they’d like to do their own show.

The Love Handles will headline there at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday night. There is no cover charge and no reservations are required.

The group doesn’t limit itself to a particular genre.

“We do mostly ‘80s and ‘90s music,” said Steve. “Also some ‘60s and ‘70s — the Doobie Brothers, Blondie, Billy Joel.”

“We look at the energy behind the music,” said Derek. “We want to do songs that are entertaining to people.”

Derek, the group’s lead singer, has spent 20 years in education, working as a teacher and assistant principal. 

Steve, who plays bass and sings back-up, is in marketing and product development. Derek’s wife, Jill, also in marketing, joins the guys as female vocalist.

Mark, on lead guitar and back-up vocals, is employed in corporate aviation. Israel, an accountant, plays rhythm guitar. John, the drummer, owns a small business in Southbury.

Now ages 38 to 48, with nine kids between them, the Love Handles aren’t looking to make music their main business. But what started as an “on-the-fly joke” at a 40th birthday party has become a fun, creative outlet and a reason to get their dad-bods off the sofa.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Derek. “We’re all career people. We’re not under the illusion that this will take off to a point where we can quit our day jobs. We’re just looking to do some private parties every once in awhile, some bars and restaurants.

“We’re having a lot of fun with it,” he said. “Doing this is what makes all the other stuff bearable.”

Those seeking additional information about The Love Handles can find them on Facebook at Handle Heads the Love Handles Fan Page.

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