709 Washington Street, Durham, North Carolina 27701

The Nomads

April 11, 2018  ·  Wednesday * 8pm * NO Cover

Musical trends have changed throughout their years of existence and the Nomads Band has made some of those changes, but they have always remained a good time party and dance band. Dance steps, audience participation, jocularity, and general tomfoolery make The Nomads Band more than just an animated juke box, they are entertaining. Their repertoire spans 30-40 years of great music and includes old soul, rhythm & blues, beach, funk, and rock. Otis Redding might follow Lynard Skynard just before John Mayer or the B 52’s. Their performances have been enjoyed by everything from an intimate group celebrating Alexander Julian’s birthday in a small cafe to 15,000 plus celebrating the 4th of July in Kenan Stadium. As their business card says, “For a good time, call….”

The Nomads Band, Chapel Hill, North Carolina circa 1965

Speaking of bands with a long history of playing Beach music as part of their overall show, a group from my hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina is getting ready to celebrate their 50th year in the business. The Nomads were the pioneers of the teen startup bands in town (we called them combos back then). More players saw the attraction and soon followed including The Corsayers featuring a young James Taylor (that’s right, the one and only). Starting so young, The Nomads were able to find quite a degree of success even before finishing high school. I recently spoke with original member Robert Humphreys about the excitement of coming up on 50 years of playing in the band.. I’ll let him tell the condensed version of their story:

” The Nomads Band began with Bobby Scott, Robert Humphreys, and several other neighborhood Junior High kids in Chapel Hill sitting around in the summer singing to Bobby’s guitar. We progressed into a real band with Bobby’s brother Bill (who was all of 12 at the time) on drums; Robert, sax, Louis Ambrosio, trumpet; Kemp Nye Jr., bass; Bob Rasmussen, bongos; and John Umstead and Bobby, vocals. Our first real gig was in mid October of 1962 for our friend Jenny McClamroch’s 13th birthday party at the Lion’s Hut in Carrboro. We knew 10 songs and played 3 hours; repeating the same songs over and over and over. It was the first band that our friends had ever had at a party so it was a big deal for all. Once we tasted the adulation of our fans, we were hooked and never turned back. We quickly learned more songs, bettered our equipment, and played school dances and birthday parties around the Piedmont.

During our Chapel Hill High School days and once we got our drivers licenses, we branched out to a larger radius and started playing fraternity parties, Junior-Senior Proms and WKIX Record Hops (Bobby wrote and we recorded at Jimmy Capps Studios in Raleigh, WKIX’s Charlie Brown’s signature theme song that he played everyday as the intro into his show). Personnel changes along the way added Kent Collins, Steve Oakley (former lead guitar for James Taylor’s first band the Corsayers), Kay Marley, and  Jo Ann Faulkner.

 In 1965, we played every day of the NC State Fair from noon to 6 PM in the Geodesic Music Dome. The Counts Four and The Kays played the night shows and we all alternated all day on Saturday. We did this for 3 years and it helped promote us to kids across North Carolina which lead to more proms and school dances.

We continued after college and into our adult lives with more changes in personnel adding Art Webb, David Hackney, and later Mel Baker, Matt Koch, Burt Cole, Joel Jones, and Herman Civils. After 50 years, Robert Humphreys is the only original member of the group but we’re still having a great time spreading the FUN & FROLIC of Beach music, old Soul, and R&B; the music of our lives………..”