The members of The Dads (Courtesy Mike Tubb)
Thirty-some years ago, as punk and dance music roared in River City, The Dads made power pop that was fresh and shiny. The band - Kevin Pittman, Mike Tubb, Bryan Harvey and David Ayers (shown left to right, above) - was a fixture in local clubs like Hard Times and Much More, and opened in larger venues for The Kinks, Culture Club and Peter Frampton, winning a fan base large enough to get signed by an affiliate of CBS Records, resulting in a self-titled 1984 album.
"The less said about that record the better," Tubb, the band's drummer, says today. "It didn't capture our sound, to put it mildly." It was a rush job, and on the last day of recording, he remembers, the 2-inch reels were immediately put into a box in a waiting car. "We did not have had a day to mix the record. We were 21, 22 years old. We didn't know anything. In hindsight, we should have walked away and said, 'This sucks.'"
"The Dads were groomed perfectly for success by '60's standards," bassist Harvey waxed philosophical during an interview with Steve Guion years later for Catharsis magazine. "But there was no place in any type of music for The Dads [at that time], except maybe like what The Hooters did. What did The Hooters do? They had a couple of hits and no one took them seriously. That's basically the best The Dads could've done. We wrote catchy pop songs."
The resulting album was a weak distillation of the group's driving live sound. It sank quickly and became a cheap bargain-bin fixture for years. The major label experience was so demoralizing that it broke up the band.
But The Dads entered the studio one last time before they parted. These final sessions were recorded at Live Oak Studios in Chesapeake, and overseen by legendary session guitarist Sal DiTroia, who won his pop-rock bonafides from playing on the Monkees' "I'm a Believer." Along with earlier work engineered in 1982 by Bruce Olsen at the now-defunct Flood Zone Studio, these songs form the basis for a "new" 15-song album, Redemption, which showcases the well-remembered combo in all of its propulsive thrust. This, Tubb says, is how The Dads really sounded. Among its many attributes, the disc contains several "lost" Bryan Harvey songs, which will delight fans of his later group, House of Freaks.
Redemption's album release party is slated for the Canal Club at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 (tickets are $10), and will also serve as a tribute to fallen comrades - like Harvey, who was murdered with his wife and two daughters during a home invasion in 2006, and Victor Benshoff - "the architect of The Dads' live sound," Tubb says - who passed away in June. Net proceeds from the event will go to charities selected by the families of Harvey and Benshoff. While Tubb and rhythm guitarist Kevin Pittman will perform at the gig, the participation of lead guitarist David Ayers, who lives in Ireland, is still tentative. "He may or may not make it, although he did do some long-distance overdubs on some of the studio songs that were incomplete," Tubb says.
Much of the Canal Club show will come courtesy of local musicians who once shared stages with The Dads - bands such as the Good Guys, the Eccentrics and the Freds, formerly the Limit. The Dads' first album will be performed in its entirety, along with some of the British Invasion and New Wave covers the group once put its stamp on. "The night is going to be a celebration," Tubb maintains. "A trip back to the glory days."