Bay City band spins positive stories while collecting awards and producing new music in Nashville

Sending a positive outlook into the world, Mike Richards thinks his band ADABOY! is here to move mountains in a music business full of negativity and naive familiarity.

Scott BakerMike Richards stresses positivity in the music ADABOY! creates.Heading in that direction with new songs by way of Nashville production, Richards has the same outlook for his next complete album, loaded with nothing but side-A singles.

With the name ADABOY! going as far back as 2003, Richards laughs that the current lineup has spent well over “725 days’ together,” slowly polishing positive-based songs track-by-track from a Tennessee studio getaway.

“Every six weeks, we are trying to release a new song,” says Richards. “We are on the precipice of releasing a lot of music. The record will hopefully be released by the end of next year.”

Debuting “Time (Voices Run)” as the first single earlier in the year, a second song “The Man I Am” will drop Sat., June 1, with ADABOY! offering a headline set at Saginaw’s premier soundstage, The Vault. “New Strings” will be track three, released at the end of July.

“We’ve got the Euclid Motel and William Patrick & The Smoke opening,” Richards shares regarding the upcoming show. “This is our fourth time at The Vault. We are good friends with Bill (Peters), the owner. He lets us rehearse there on off days. He is a strong supporter. He wants to see us be one of the groups from this area to have some sort of a career.”

Scott BakerJoe Balbaugh, who grew up in Hemlock, performs on bass and vocals for ADABOY!Originally from Reese, Richards is a Bay City Public Schools music teacher living in the Banks area of Bay City. He wants to set an example for his students. He teaches at McAlear-Sawden Elementary School half the year at at MacGregor Elementary the other half. Before that, he was the Vassar High School Band Director for about three years.

For 15 years, while he taught students during the day, ADABOY! slowly released its music.

“I started working on my own music in my mid-20s,” says Richards. “Then I got a hold of Andy Reed (of Reed Recording Company). He and I pretty much put together the very first EP, four songs. Then I got a band and we went back and recorded with Andy too for one album. ADABOY! has been through six different line-ups (at this point.)”

Richards has always strived for excellence, releasing albums that catapulted ADABOY! to the top of the area’s pop and rock original music scene over the past 15 years.

“We have two EPs and two albums,” Richards shares. “(Recently) the guitarist that we were playing with actually had something happen that made it impossible for him to continue. Our drummer knew this guitarist from Davison, Vincent Modern. (Vince) came in and he knocked it out of the park. He is really connected in the Christian music scene. He has connections down in Nashville and connected us to a producer down there.”

Richards let Modern grab the helm and lead them to Nashville to record the beginnings of the current singles.

Scott BakerSteve Bennett, a Flint native, is the band's percussionist and one of the vocalists.“We went down and recorded at Castle Recording Studios, in Franklin, just south of Nashville. We’ve since been back twice. ‘Time (Voices Run)’ was the first song that we released from our Nashville effort. We produced seven songs with Kenny Bell. He’s an independent guy.

“Now we are working with Paul Lani. We switched for financial reasons and we needed somebody a little more diverse, because of our sound. ADABOY! doesn’t write music for one specific genre. Paul has done Prince, U2, Bon Jovi, and he also produced Megadeth. He’s a classically trained piano player. He mixes playwrights and movies. He’s pretty diverse in the recording world. Paul is a former LA/Southern California producer, in Oregon now.”

Richards notes the band will remain recording in Nashville and Lani will produce via video.

“We’ve leveled up. Paul Lani is as real as it gets. We’ll see what happens. It will be songs number 8, 9, and 10.”

The band  – which also includes bassist Joe Balbaugh and drummer Steve Bennett – has been trying to up its game.

“We have been working with PCG Universal down in Nashville,” Richards shares. “They have been guiding us. We have two LLC’s now. We’ve done a lot of work behind creating (this) small business. You can claim a lot of things when you are an LLC and help your business. It helps you get a little money back at the end of the year. We’re trying to get it to a point where everybody gets paid through the band and this is our job.”

Photo courtesy of ADABOY!ADABOY! proudly proclaims its Bay City roots on some of its merchandise.Richards says they prefer to not label their brand of rock and roll, keeping the music diverse and following their rules of keeping the music positive.

“Our message, our mantra, is about overcoming,” Richards notes. “My story is important as a teacher to be the best example for the students that I stand in front of everyday, and to live by example. I share with them things that happen in my life and how it shapes me, and how to frame things in everyday life.

“We write songs about overcoming, songs about finally coming into realization about who we are supposed to be. All the stages that every human goes through. Uplifting music. You will never hear ADABOY! write a song about beer, weed, or whiskey – which seems to be a huge trend going on right now. Everybody’s writing about it. It’s not deep enough for me.”

When playing live, the band mixes in cover songs along with the new material. In April, ADABOY! was the leading award winner at the Review Magazine Award show.

Scott BakerMike Richards, who grew up in Reese but calls Bay City home now, is the lead singer for ADABOY!“The band always looks for places to play. We will funnel (bookings) to Joe. We have a calendar on our website. We are constantly booking. We will probably put on a release show for every one of the songs.”

Richards is quick to add they have reached over 2,000 likes on Facebook over the last four months, which is a testament to how these four people believe in each other and work together.

“All four of us contribute to the songs. A lot of times either Joe or myself will come up with the inspiration. After the hook for the first groove, the guys will just take it over. We write songs so fast together. I've never been in a band like this before.”

Even though Richards grew up in Reese, he says he has found a home for his creativity in Bay City.

“Bay City is our town. No matter what happens with the band, hopefully we can be an ambassador for Bay City. That would be amazing. We have T-shirts that say ‘ADABOY! from Bay City, MI.’ By the end of the year, we will have ten different designs. One for each song, each with their own art.”

Scott BakerVincent Modern, a Flint native, performs on guitar and vocals for ADABOY!Richards believes the music can be whatever you want it to be, coming from a positive outlook.

“We always want to lead with love and kindness,” he confesses. “I think ADABOY! can be something special. I don’t see why we can’t have a career writing songs about overcoming all of the chains that people carry everyday – including us. All the guys in the band have overcome something. Some sort of abuse, addiction. We found ourselves to get over those moments. I feel those three guys and I are on a mission to be that beam of hope in the music industry that isn’t there right now. We are religious people, but we don’t label our music that way. We’re not ever going to ever not tell anyone any different. If that’s what they are getting from it, then maybe that is what they have to be hearing.

“All positivity – I think that’s the best way to be.”

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Scott spent time freelance writing/photography for The Bay City Times and Saginaw News from 1997-2014. He was picked to cover local entertainment before graduating from Delta College, landing cover stories a handful of times. During that time, Scott worked as a head cook for four different restaurants over a 34-year stretch. Married with twins, Scott has freelanced for magazines and blogs as well and continues to photograph, mainly for social media. Taking his own music to the masses in 1999, Scott has put records with his band Muddy Gumbo and his sixth solo record, Purpose, was released in 2023. He frequently plays statewide solo acoustic and with his Scott Baker Band. Scott has enjoyed opening for the likes of CCR, Styx, Blackberry Smoke, Bettye LaVette, Popa Chubby, 3 Days Grace, and more. Scott has recorded/performed with the late Dick Wagner, Adam Levy, Larry McCray, Bob Hausler, Mike Brush, Jeff Yantz, and many others. Scott currently is a Job Developer for local non-profit Do All, Inc, operates a music studio between the shows, and continues entertainment and beyond writing for Route Bay City.