val's blog  5.10.12  


Dear Dad: you've been
fathers day
    this playlist is dedicated to dads everywhere.





val and daddy '57

the photo above

 is my brother Walt

&  his son Wally ~

best of friends.



the photo to the left 

is my dad and me circa 1957.




  This post is dedicated to my dad, 

Bud Gruger, 

who put up with my high energy 

all these years. 

You're the best listener 

(and sailor) 

I know. 

I love you, dad!







In general, DADS ROCK. 


They lift heavy objects, hammer things, fix stuff, kill spiders, obey mom, and  protect us. They give us their name, their credit card, life lessons, and the shirt off their back.

They're sort of bad at fashion, hairstyles, daughter advice, mom moods, and decor.

They're charming when they hold a baby, pet their dog, try to navigate the grocery store.

They're sexy with facial hair, bedhead, old jeans, balding, glasses, opened neck tie, flip flops, "honey-do" list, and when they sit and listen to you.

They try hard when it comes to their sons and daughters, including the "step" kind, the "in-law" kind, and the "grand" kind.

They're in a new role because their dads probably weren't in the delivery room, changing diapers, making dinner, driving carpool, at teacher conferences, and texting.

They take seriously their car, their TV, their sports, their work, and their HOBBY...


Some examples of dad hobbies are golf, biking, boating, sailing, running, camping, building things, gardening, hoops, racquets, pick up games, fantasy football, home improvements, reading, writing, nature, travel, electronics, cars, surfing, adventure, film, hiking, history, fishing, photography, art, playing cards, cooking, and my favorite, music. Hope I included yours. 


Here's a trivia question. What do all of the following guys have in common? 


Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon, Michael J. Fox, Russell Crowe, Billy Bob Thornton, Will Smith, Jack Black, Matthew Broderick, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Mark Wahlberg, Woody Allen, Dudley Moore, Steve Martin, Johnny Depp, Steve Bernstein (CEO of Oppenheimer Investments Asia), Steve (my old neighbor), Mack (PR guy from my town), Mike (private equity guy who graduated top of his class at Duke), John (local dad with young kids and an MBA in Finance), Michael and Craig (lawyers from Chicago), Brad (Yale grad with a UofC MBA), Lee (owner, commercial real estate biz), Roger (financial consultant/wealth manager neighbor of mine), Jeff (my friend's husband),  and Dr. Danny (psychiatrist).  The common thread?


They're all in dad bands. Bad name I know (like rocker mom) but you get the picture. These guys have loved music their entire lives, and aren't giving it up just 'cuz they grew up.  I asked if I could interview them (the non-famous ones).  They came right over, eager to talk about their bands with names like Mea Culpa, Dads Gone Bad, The T-Byrdz, Basement Jacks (originally Male DysFUNKtion), and Dr. Bombay. I get it.


This post isn't going to be about dad bands per se. It's about all dads, who at the end of a busy workday, have a hobby that lets them escape for a minute. I asked the guys "Who are you on stage?"  Every single dad answered the same way "me, but better." Carl Jung would agree, "Nothing has a stronger influence... on their children than the unlived life of the parents." So go to your playground and play, and teach your children well... (CSN)


I learned a few things from the dad band guys. I think you will too, as their messages are more about life than music. My first impression when we started to chat, is how serious they are about their music - they intensely want to learn more, improve their talent, please their audience. They're not cocky or pompous - they know this is recreational - but there's a level of responsibility about their gigs now that they perform publicly. They all signed up for this. Craig likens it to basketball, "practicing music in the basement is like a pick up game :: performing on stage - that's the real game." All agree that their main goal when playing is to engage with and please the crowd.  Brad says "music is best when it's a shared experience." Mike agrees, "although playing music alone is the source of pure joy, playing with others creates rare transcendental moments when all are in sync... something that's not experienced in any other activity I know of."  They stated over and over,  "we want to enhance the party, not be the party." All of the bands play for hired events; private parties, local bars, charity events. I asked them what defines a great performance:  unanimously they replied "when the audience is up dancing all night to our music." Their biggest compliment is when the audience yells "more!"  or  "no!"  when they take a break (who wouldn't want that?) 


During the course of the interview, a few words were repeated over and over:  Euphoric. Transcends. Creative. Emotional. Engage. Interact. Discipline. Artistic. Zen. Focus. Joy. Collaborate. Commitment.  I believe these could describe any passionate endeavor. But probably NOT a typical workday.  Roger (an avid songwriter and producer) chimes in, "it takes you to another place, or meditative level where you're fully engaged in your art..."  CNN article Middle-aged mojo: The great sound of Hong Kong's 'dad bands' says "Just because you wear a suit all day doesn't mean you can't rock out."  New York Times article "The Secret Life of a Rock Dad" reveals "a new outlet for the midlife crisis; the dad band!"  Like me, these guys are oldsters in the music industry. We aren't embarrassed. We fill a gap.


The guys cracked me up on a few occasions.  

When Brad introduced each of his band members he included what they drink in the description (such a guy thing) "Craig: accomplished lead guitarist, intense lawyer, scotch drinker." 

The two guys in the room who admit they are the least accomplished musically - are the ones who started their bands.  I asked "so what do you do on stage?" One replied, "I'm the beat keeper, they don't let me near the mic." (what's a beat keeper, a human metronome?) 

When I went to The T-Byrdz' practice in Mack's basement (first I was impressed because as I walked into the house they sounded on pitch - that's a sign of good vocals if they sound good from far away..)  When I got down there, the vision made me chuckle. Mack was in bare feet, all the music equipment was hanging on the treadmill, drummer Danny was playing in his suit & tie, Steve and Craig, lead & base guitarists never looked up - they were in the moment, into their music, like professionals. They offered me beer or LaCroix. Their equipment looked expensive - but they've earned it. 

Jeff didn't answer one of my questions seriously. (There's a jokester in every crowd.) His teen band was called "Davy & the Crocketts" and his drum kit was in front of the frontman..  He says the only requirement as a drummer is the ability to count to four (sorry, Jimmy Chamberlin and other professional drummers I know.) When I asked him about covers he replied, "I think thread count is critical." I meant cover songs, wise ass. 

I asked the guys if they've avoided a mid-life crisis by being in a band. John replied, "my wife is the one who encouraged me to join the band (I think so SHE wouldn't have a mid-life crisis married to a middle-aged man.)"

Lee is the youngster in the group - he's forty something - and he has some killer vocals. When I asked the dads how their kids feel about them being in a rock band, Lee replied, "my kids are little - dad's band is not the cool thing :: running around on stage before the show, now that's cool."


In the NYT article mentioned above, the secret rock dad Clay Tarver said he gave up his music when he grew up, got a job, became a dad. Something was always missing after that. He said "the more I missed it, the weirder I got." He stopped playing music around the house and never played guitar for his kids." Finally his wife said, "Know who you need to rock with? A therapist."  He said, "the shrink made me identify the person I was when I was happiest."  Loud and clear, it was him with music. The therapist said, "you have to find a way to be a dad and be that guy." 


So what's your dad band?



*    *    *    * 







JIMMY FALLON   "The Evolution of Dad Dancing" 

Jimmy Fallon -  The Evolution of Dad Dancing: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon



TOM CRUISE    "Rock of Ages" plays 80's rock star 

Rock of Ages TRAILER 2 HD Official Tom Cruise Catherine Zeta-Jones
Rock of Ages TRAILER 2 HD Official 




JOHNNY DEPP   - invited on stage by The Black Keys - MTV Movie Awards 2012

Johnny Depp Performs at 2012 MTV Movie Awards!
2012 MTV Movie Awards









(gift the album straight to dad's iTunes account!)   learn how



album:  The Lion the Beast the Beat     6.12.12
genre: Alternative Rock

similar vibe:  Joan Jett / Lucinda Williams / Fleetwood Mac

listen/download in iTunes

grace potter album  




album:  Big Station      6.5.12

genre: Rock

similar vibe:  Lou Reed / Chuck Prophet / Springsteen / Tom Petty

listen/download in iTunes 

alejandro escovedo  





album: Do Things     6.12.12

genre:  Alternative

similar vibe:  Beach Boys

listen/download in iTunes 

Dent May  




album:  Mud Digger, Vol. 3      6.12.12

genre:  Country Rap

similar vibe:  Hank Williams meets Eminem (very unique sound)

listen/download in iTunes

Mud Digger  




album: There's No Leaving Now     6.12.12

genre:  Alternative

similar vibe:  Bob Dylan meets Willie Nelson 

listen/download in iTunes

Tallest Man on Earth album  













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