David Norod: The Extended Cut
Growing up, I had in my bedroom a very large Philco shortwave radio with a huge speaker in it and enough tubes to heat the whole house. At night I could pick up WLS in Chicago where they played all the Motown hits of the day. One night when they happened to play “My Girl” by the Temptations, I noticed the speaker grill cloth vibrating to what I eventually figured out was the bass guitar part. Doomp Doo Doo, Doomp Doo Doo. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to play whatever was making that grill cloth move like that.
As luck would have it, when I was a junior in high school a friend of mine let me borrow his Hagstrom bass which I kept for most of that year learning my way around the instrument. For graduation, my parents bought me my very own Hagstrom bass guitar as well as an Ampeg B-15 amplifier. Together with other high school friends we formed my first band, Epicurus and The Hedons. We played a number of private parties and a couple of “mixers” at Hobart College. Later that year, as a freshman at this college, I made friends with a wide variety of older classmates who were musicians and was invited to join several bands while in attendance, most notably “Maiden Voyage”. We played numerous frat parties and even had a manager. At one point I had an opportunity to jam with another Hobart band “The Lost and Found” whose singer went on to become a member of the Blue Oyster Cult.
After graduation I joined the Straight Gin Band which was primarily a blues band. We played the college circuit among Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca colleges and universities as well as nightclubs in these areas. We were regulars at “The Salty Dog” in Ithaca, the same venue that the band Orleans played often. They of course went on to have the hit “You’re Still The One”. Straight Gin was popular but when the main singer/songwriter of another local band “T-Rocket and the Barking Guitars” joined us, it really took off and we enjoyed a very strong upstate New York following until we broke up just before my 25th birthday. That’s when I decided it was time to look elsewhere for music and moved to DC. During my first couple of years in this area I was a member of “The Exclusives” featuring the “Inner Space Band and Show”, a four-man vocal group backed by seven musicians. We played military clubs, cabarets, nightclubs and the like and were quite well-known. However, on my way to a gig one night, I was involved in a really bad traffic accident and spent two weeks in the hospital recovering. Because of my injuries I was unable to play my instrument for about six months so of course had to be replaced in that group.
After my motor skills returned, I joined a local singer/songwriter to form The Brad Smiley Band where I remained for six years. Having had enough of smoky nightclubs and minimal paychecks I left that band and for the first time in my career, joined a band which played nothing but popular music, no originals at all. This was the Mixed Company Band where I stayed for 29 years! We were represented by a local agency and were the proverbial “wedding or society band”. I once calculated that we played “Celebration” more than 1200 times. We ate great food, played spectacular events in the best venues, made tons of money and had a lot of fun, but were often mistaken for waiters because of our tuxedos. One night at the Chevy Chase Country Club, a man walked up to me dangling his car keys in my face assuming I was a valet. I asked him what he was driving. He responded, “The white Escalade.” I said sorry man, I only park imports and walked away.
Fast forward to the present day; in addition to Dirty Soul, I am a member of OTR (Off The Record), a classic rock horn band as well as the Jeff Carmella Band, a jump-swing boogie band. And I am still playing the same 1964 Fender Jazz bass I purchased way back in 1969.