Paul Waring wasn’t working on the railroad or the chain gang when he started singing the blues. He was doing it Pine Tree State style. Back to that same old place — sweet home Brooklin, Maine.
Waring is the guitarist and lead vocalist for the Bad Daddys, a blues-rock four-piece based in Hancock County. He’s an Oregon native who moved to Maine with his wife 15 years ago, so he could work on boats, starting in Kennebunk and eventually moving Down East for a job at the Brooklin Boat Yard. It was there that he met his future bandmate and musical kindred spirit, lead guitarist Al Strong.
“Conversations always tend to gravitate towards music, and we sort of discovered that we had similar interests when we’d get to talking.” said Waring. “We decided to try playing together, just with acoustic guitars in our living rooms. We realized we had a really nice balance.”
Those impromptu practice sessions led to songs. The songs led to a reawakening of Waring’s childhood fantasy: to play in an electric blues band. As a kid growing up in the age of arena rock, Waring was listening to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.
“Growing up, everybody else seemed to be right at the cutting edge of new rock. All my other friends were listening to Def Leppard and AC/DC. I was listening to jazz and blues,” said Waring. “I was always really immersed in other kinds of music than what was popular at the time.”
Waring and Strong played as a duo for some time, but the lure of expanding their sound kept calling. The opportunity to legitimately play in a blues band was something Waring couldn’t pass up — so like Jake and Elwood, he and Strong donned their shades and suits, found a crack rhythm section in bassist Jimmy Klemmenz and drummer Scott Mills, and were transformed into the Bad Daddys.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in an electric blues band,” said Waring. “I kind of like having a duel personality — yacht designer by day, blues guy by night.”
The Bad Daddys play a gritty, gravelly grab bag of blues and rock, showcased on the band’s superb self-titled album, released last March. Produced by Blue Hill engineer John Dyer and distributed by Ellsworth-based record label Reversing Recordings, it’s one of the finest local albums released in Maine this year — due in no small part to Waring and Strong’s friendship, musical or otherwise.
Songwriting duties are split up exactly evenly between the two, from the woeful workin’ stiff wail of the Strong-penned “Workin’ Man Blues,” to Waring’s moody, slow-burning “Change of Heart.” It’s solid, soulful stuff, showcasing Waring’s swaggering blues growl and Strong’s clean, funky riffs.
Live, the Bad Daddys play original songs, plus some well-known blues and R&B nuggets to satisfy a bar crowd. The band plays the Maine blues circuit regularly, including the Bar Harbor Blues Authority and the Myrtle Street Pub and Time Out Pub in Rockland, and the band was showcased earlier this year at the Maine Blues Festival in Naples. They’ll play on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Myrtle Street, and then on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Carmen Verandah in Bar Harbor.
“We do stuff that veers sometimes more to the blues rock side of things, but we’ll switch it up depending on the kind of crowd we’re playing for,” Waring said. “The crowd for blues in Maine is small, but it’s there. We’ve got some very talented musicians and some really devoted people in the community.”
To purchase the Bad Daddy’s self-titled debut album, or to get a full schedule of the band’s upcoming gigs, log onto www.baddaddysband.com.