The Middle Aged Dad Jam Band is thriving in David Wain’s garage

A man wearing a multicolored shirt points a microphone toward the crowd.
“Weird Al” Yankovic performs onstage with the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band at Little Secret.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)

You can hear the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band before you see them, the sounds drifting down a residential street in Los Feliz at 11 a.m. on a summer Thursday. Packed into a two-car garage that’s full of movie memorabilia, music stands and a truly staggering amount of guitar and mic cables, the ragtag crew of 40-somethings and 50-somethings rambles through songs like “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty and “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” stopping only to chat about their upcoming gigs or financial news while someone tries to figure out his part. Guests pop in to sing a song or two with the band, then head off to pick up their kids at soccer practice. It’s a pretty chill hang, and it’s all thanks to David Wain.

While looking for a creative outlet during lockdown, Wain, a member of ’90s comedy troupe The State who has since gone on to write and direct projects like “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Role Models,” decided to film himself performing what he called #CCARS, or Collaborative Covers by Amateurs of Rock Songs. He enlisted buddies to record Zoom covers of tracks by Pat Benatar, Sade, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Aerosmith, among others, posting them to his Instagram account.

A close-up of a man wearing a watch playing the trumpet.
Jordan Katz plays the trumpet during a rehearsal with other band members inside the garage at the Los Angeles home of David Wain.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A man wearing jeans and a button-up shirt playing the drums.
David Wain, on drums, rehearses with other members of the band and guests inside the garage at his Los Angeles home. Wain, a comedian, actor and director, has been hosting jam sessions for the past year.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

About 20 covers and 18 months later, Wain moved into a bigger house in Los Feliz, complete with a garage, and decided to ask some of those same friends over to jam on a Sunday afternoon. He captured the whole thing on camera, edited and posted it, and decided to make the jam a recurring hang. Different friends would flow in and out over various weeks, bringing requests for ’60s, ’70s and ’80s cuts they’d like to tackle, but Ken Marino, a fellow State and “Wet Hot” alum, would usually show up to do vocals. Marino’s childhood friend cinematographer Frank Barrera came with a guitar and Eduardo Penna, a TV writer friend Marino and Wain met while living in the NYU dorms, picked up the bass. Eventually, the group added a couple of professional musicians — Jordan Katz and Jon Spurney on trumpet and keys, respectively — as well as Wain’s 15-year-old son Henry, who plays saxophone.

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“It was really for no reason at all,” Wain says. “We started doing it. It was fun, and so we kept doing it.” The friends did a four-hour set in Barrera’s South Pasadena driveway on Halloween, and “Weird Al” Yankovic popped by one Sunday for tracks like “Stray Cat Strut.” He also recently joined the band on an L.A. stage.

Eventually, the jam sessions caught the eye of the bookers at SF Sketchfest, who asked the friends to come up and play a set. At that moment, Barrera says, “It was like, ‘Well, I guess we’re actually a band now.’”

A group of people practicing music in a garage.
Clockwise from top right: David Wain, Jordan Katz, Henry Wain, Ali Stamler, Craig Wedren, Meggan Lennon (partially blocked), Ken Marino and and Jon Spurney rehearse inside the garage at the Wain home.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A crowd of people with excited facial expressions watch a performance.
Iris Biel, 29, from Los Angeles watches the performance of the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band at Little Secret.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)

The Middle Aged Dad Jam Band takes its name from a descriptor Wain used when he posted one of the early sessions on his YouTube page. (Only about half the members actually have kids, but they all certainly have “dad vibes,” as it were.) “We’re the kind of band that explains exactly what it is in the title, which is helpful for setting expectations,” he jokes. “If we called it Master Class: The Best Band Ever, people would probably be more disappointed.”

“The name conjures up the appropriate stereotype, which is a bunch of suburban guys who get together on the weekends and do a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp.”

— Jon Spurney


“The name conjures up the appropriate stereotype, which is a bunch of suburban guys who get together on the weekends and do a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp themselves,” Spurney says. “The cool thing about our band, though, is that it’s better musically than people think it’s going to be and it’s as funny as people think it’s gonna be. If I was hanging out at a party in a backyard in Hollywood with a beer in my hand, we’re exactly the band I would want to see.”

A woman cast in green lighting holds a microphone.
Natalie Morales performs onstage with the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band at Little Secret.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)
A man wearing a denim jacket throws back his arms.
Joe Lo Truglio backstage before the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band performs onstage at Little Secret.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)

Indeed, that seems to have been the case, with the group selling out 200- to 700-capacity venues and drawing praise for its tight musical stylings, classic rock-imbued set list and mid-set bits about Sylvester Stallone. Now the group is plotting an East Coast tour this summer, with dates in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and beyond.

“I’ve got to tell you,” Wain says, “with the writers’ strike being in full swing, I’m all for this becoming my main job. If I could be a rock star and support my family, I would do it in a second.” It might seem like an odd midcareer shift, but for Wain, it seems like a natural fit. “I kind of feel like all guys our age would be musicians if they could,” he says, pointing out that many members of the most popular bands touring today — the E Street Band, Eagles, U2, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Rolling Stones — are well into their so-called golden years.

A man wearing a hat plays the drums.
David Wain of the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band performs onstage at Little Secret.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)

Penna says that for him, being in the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band is about making up for lost time. “I never thought I’d play with a group of people, but the heavens opened up and suddenly I have this opportunity to play music,” he says. “Now I look back on my life and wonder why I didn’t start doing this in my 20s. At least now, if this becomes any sort of big deal, I’ll have more emotional resources and self-discipline so I won’t lose my s— entirely.”

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Perhaps it’s the band’s years of experience, both in the entertainment world and with each other, that have made for such a successful and enjoyable venture. “Knowing that the band is an outgrowth of long-term friendships deepens the pleasure and deepens the rewards,” Wain says.

“Because we’ve known each other for so long, it feels like you’re in a safe place to take chances or make mistakes and not feel embarrassed by anything,” Marino adds. “It’s fun to watch too, like to get to see Frank take a solo or, when we’re in the garage, to look over at David and see just how full of joy he is.”

An image of a red carpeted floor, covered in cables and mic stands.
Ken Marino is surrounded by stands and cables while rehearsing with other members of the band and guests inside David Wain’s garage.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Two photos next to each other, one of Ken Marino singing with a donut in his hand, and the other of a crowd at a concert.
Ken Marino of the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band sings in-between eating a doughnut during a rehearsal, left, and performs onstage in front of a large audience at Little Secret, right.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times and Roger Kisby / For The Times)

For Spurney, who moved to L.A. from New York right before the pandemic, the band has also been a way to make new friends and connections in a town he was previously only passingly familiar with. “Going to the jams instantly created this really cool group of friends and like-minded people to hang out with,” he says, acknowledging that making friends as an adult man isn’t always so simple. “You have to find your tribe in life, and for me, being among comedy and music people just feels great.”

Spurney, who has worked on other projects that blend music and comedy, like “Documentary Now!” and Fred Armisen’s “Standup for Drummers,” says the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band is the perfect fusion of the genres. “The comedy show ethos is very similar to the rock show ethos in that it’s like, ‘We’re gonna make it happen,’ ” he explains. “When a show happens, it’s go time. We all know that if we trust each other, we’re all going to make it work.”


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Because the Jam Band has players who are seasoned musicians and comedians, everyone has extensive knowledge of what it takes to make a show a success. They’re willing to put in the work to get there, whether that means rehearsing a song for the 20th time or writing a little canned banter to fill the air while someone tunes a guitar.

 A group picture of the members of the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band.
Before a performance, the Middle Aged Dad Jam Band gathers. From left: Sweet Teddy P, Beth Dover, Jon Spurney, Jordan Katz, Craig Wedren, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Henry Wain, David Wain, Frank Barrera, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Kestrin Pantera, Meggan Lennon, Alexandra Stamler and Natalie Morales.
(Roger Kisby / For The Times)
A man playing the guitar is visible between two pairs of feet on the floor.
Sweet Teddy P, playing the bass, rehearses with others inside David Wain’s garage.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“When we were doing the State, which was a group of people onstage,” Wain says, “or Stella, which was our comedy trio, you got to the point over time where there was a certain unspoken language or dialogue between you, like the more the vocabulary developed and the more there was a shorthand, the better you would work together.” “Someone else could be riffing onstage and you’d just think, ‘I know where he’s going with this joke. I know exactly how to respond.’ There doesn’t need to be any discussion. The discussion is 20 years of knowing one another. To me, when you have a band that’s starting to jell, it’s a similar thing where you stop thinking about it and you start feeling it. That’s the nectar of it, and it’s so great.”