The Nomads – beginning to end (Prologue)

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I grew up in Idlewyld, a small community just south of Towson and just north of the Baltimore City line.  My house was only two blocks from a small community center for Idlewyld, and in that community center was a hall used for wedding receptions and other community events which included saturday night dances for the teens.  Idlewyld Hall, as it was commonly known, was and is still located within a block of the City line on what is actually the Alameda, but who’s name changes to Sherwood Road as it crosses from the City to the County.

At age 14 I decided to go hear The Nomads, a live band, something I had never done.  I took my childhood friend Mike Hodgeman with me.  Mike had never heard a live band either.  At the time I was playing guitar tunes with a junior high school friend – songs by Link Wray, Duane Eddy and the Ventures, but just for fun.  Being in a band had never entered my mind, but that was about to change!

We entered the Idlewyld Community Hall that night through the front door, which was at the opposite end of the hall from where the band was set up.  The hall floor was poured concrete from beginning to end so the band was set up on the floor, at the level of the crowd. Since there was no stage the band’s sound, especially the high tones, was mostly absorbed by the first few rows of people. It took us awhile to make our way to the front, so that we could both see and hear the band better and I ended up standing in the front row, a little to the left of center, right in front of the bass player.  The Nomads kicked off their next song and I never moved for the rest of the night.  I was transfixed.  The bass player played a Fender Bass with the strap slung so low that the neck of the instrument was nearly vertical to the ground!  He looked so cool!!!!!!  His amp was an Ampeg piggy back, the kind that the electronics mounted on the top flipped over to be stored inside the speaker cabinet itself.  It had a rod on the back of the cabinet to allow the cabinet to tilt backward and project the sound upward.  The Ampeg faceplate on the vacuum tube cover glowed a pale green.  Sometime during the evening I asked someone in the crowd the name of the bass player.  They said, “Oh, that’s Elwood”.

I left the Community Hall that night with the Nomads playing through my head and the image of Elwood and his bass before my eyes.  It was at that moment  that I knew I had to play in a band too.  Not too long afterwards I began my first band, the RaVons, but that’s another story.

In the 2nd entry that follows, I’ll lay out how the Nomads first began and the order of the players as they joined and left the band, well, like I say in the title of this blog, from beginning to end.  The 3rd and last entry will contain some humorous recollections from the band members themselves.  Here’s a picture of the original group.

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3 Responses to “The Nomads – beginning to end (Prologue)”

  1. Bill Says:

    Could this be the same Earl French that served in U.S. Army Nelligen Barracks Germany 1966 to 1967?

    • Billy Says:

      Hi Bill
      this is Billy from Nellingen in Germany. I wonder if you and Earl were stationed with the Army at Nellingen Germany ? I,m a private Historian to the History of Nellingen Barracks. My URL is http://www.billybils.de
      get back with me regarding old Pictures from Nellingen Barracks.
      Greetings
      Billy

  2. hillbillyhellcats Says:

    I remember seeing these guys at an event at the Civic Center. I remember the Wurlitzer electric piano. For some reason I thought they were billed as “Sonny and the Nomads”

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