A father has many roles in a child’s life, from inspiring talent to dispelling fears. The members of The Dad Band, which will be kicking off this year’s Verona Summer Concert Series, embody many of those roles. These Verona dads entertain the community and help children overcome stage fright.
As its name might suggest, The Dad Band was brought together by fatherhood. Each member of the band has young children and a passion for music. Looking to stay musically active while being parents and building careers, the group met at an ugly sweater holiday party in December of 2017. Realizing these common characteristics, the men exchanged contact information and began practicing music for fun together, eventually gathering at HomeFront Studios in West Caldwell, after putting their kids to bed.
“The idea has always been to perform to an audience of our wives, kids, and friends,” says Liam Holland, lead guitarist. “to bring good times and be a fun part of Verona’s great community. To be Verona’s go-to ‘Dad band’.”
In addition to Holland, The Dad Band includes David Menez, bass guitarist; Chris Piccuirro, rhythm guitarist; vocalist Conor Mulcahy; and percussionists Steve Jendi and Todd Raffa. The band mainly performs 90s alternative rock cover songs but also is working on playing cover songs from other decades to add variety for this summer’s performance at the municipal center.
Beyond the music, one of the main purposes of The Dad Band is helping children overcome stage fright. Shortly after The Dad Band’s debut, one of Holland’s daughters told him that she was scared of being in front of people. He shared this information with the band, and they agreed that they wanted to address the anxieties so many young children feel when it comes to getting in front of an audience, whether it be musical performances or a school presentation.
“I wanted to show our kids that you don’t need to be embarrassed, intimidated, or scared to get up in front of an audience, even a venue as large as Town Hall. It can actually be fun and you don’t need to take it too seriously,” says Holland. “Also, for us dads, it’s a nice change from our usual routines, as we all have many responsibilities and none of us are professional musicians.”
The Dad Band has been in front of audiences at many Verona events since, including performances at the SCA Food Truck Festival, the Newman Cares Blockfest, as well as at the Verona Inn to support Team Zoey. However, The Dad Band views the Verona Summer Concert Series as their biggest event yet. When Holland received a phone call in late January inviting his band to perform, he was ecstatic, and The Dad Band began planning right away.
“During the pandemic, we received this invitation, so we practiced in Piccuirro’s driveway, since he had the widest driveway out of us all in order for us to sit, socially distanced, and begin practicing for the Verona Summer Concert Series,” says Holland. “We also used Menez’ warehouse to run extension cords to amplify the sound as we practiced socially distant outdoors. However, we practiced less often, once a month, whereas we used to perform weekly.”
Performing in front of their largest crowd thus far after practicing for months on a less frequent schedule, The Dad Band, too, may experience nerves when they take the stage in front of Town Hall on Wednesday, July 7. But they’re committed to finding joy in performing.
“When we played our first gigs, my kids would ask if I got scared before playing in front of an audience, but I always taught them the importance of just being yourself and bringing a sense of joy and fun to those around you,” Holland says. “By normalizing the idea of being in front of a crowd, and having our kids enjoy the concert series right inVerona, we’re excited to help this community grow.”
Verona’s free Summer Concert series begins on Wednesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. with The Dad Band. There will also be performances on July 14 (Time Machine), July 21 (Frontiers, a tribute to Journey) and July 28, Strawberry Fields, a journey through the Beatles.