Dads by day, rockstars by night — local band Trophy Dads to play at Wildwood

Trophy Dads is a rock band out of Solon, IA. During the week, you can find them at work or coaching practice, but on the weekends they’ll be hitting the stage with fan-favorite early 90s rock.


Isabella Cervantes

The Trophy Dads, a local dad band from Solon, Iowa, pose for a portrait in Elray’s Live and Dive on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The group will be performing on Friday, March 25, at the Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon in Iowa City.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

What started as four dads jamming out in a high school music room has turned into four dads rocking out on stages across Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

Trophy Dads, self-proclaimed as “Iowa’s OK’est band,” will perform once again this Friday, at Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon.

Though the band from Solon, Iowa started playing together in late 2018, their first performance for a crowd didn’t happen until June of 2019 at Herb N’ Lou’s Pizza in West Branch, Iowa. Their natural friendship makes it easy to assume they’ve known each other for decades, but that isn’t the case for most members.

Drummer Matt Messenger and lead guitarist Jason Spengler grew up together in West Branch, and Spengler was in a band of his own in high school. Spengler later invited Jacob “Jake” McCandless to join as their lead singer, who did show choir in high school and was also in a band in college.

Finally, they were referred to Don Scott, their bass player, by a neighbor. Out of the group, Scott has the deepest history as a rock band musician, including playing in Minneapolis and around Arizona.

“I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14, and playing in bars since I was 14,” Scott said.

For Messenger, Trophy Dads is somewhat of a childhood “dream come true.” He said that he was on the drumline in high school and always thought he would be in a band, but after graduating it never ended up happening.

“For me, I’m driven because I never got to do it, and it’s like one of those things that I wish I had done when I was younger,” Messenger said. “But I’m happy that I’m doing it now.”

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Lead guitarist Spengler said that playing at Elray’s on March 6 was one of his favorite moments with the band. What seemed like a run-of-the-mill show turned into a “crazy gig” when students on a bar crawl entered the venue.

The band has been in contact with Elray’s since its opening in 2020, but because they only perform around once a month, they don’t play at the bar regularly.

Several band members said that they enjoyed playing at Elray’s because it’s a change of pace from their regular scene. Messenger called the experience a “breath of fresh air.”

“Elray’s brought a stage to the front of the house, and that’s a game-changer,” Messenger said. “When you’re walking by a place and you hear music, it’s like a Nashville thing, you’re going to walk in if you like what you hear.”

Spengler, along with his other band members, said that good energy in the crowd is something they value, and when they’re having fun on stage, that’s how they know it’s a good show.

“Sometimes when people play the sound is good, but they just seem way too focused,” Spengler said. “I may not be the best guitar player, but at least I’m having a good time.”

Regardless of their talent level or demand for performances — Messenger said they’re booked for the rest of 2022 — the members of Trophy Dads all said that they view the band as more of a really fun hobby than a career path.

“I’ve always said, we can’t be Trophy Dads if we’re not home on the weekend,” lead singer McCandless said.