by Kimberly Shires
New music from The Stormin’ Norman Band is just around the corner. With quirky 80’s hair metal costumes, activism for local homeless communities and the band’s run opening for Bret Michaels of Poison, what is not to love about this band? Check out Stormin’ Norman’s new original album, Feel Alright Now, by clicking on the pre-save link. https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/thestorminnormanband/feel-alright-now
The Stormin’ Norman Band is based out of Woodbridge, VA and is headed by Norman Voss on vocals and guitar and with guitarist Oliver Voss, alternating drummers Chris Carrol and Sammy S and bassist Frank Brennan, a true Guy Fieri doppelganger. Voss said, “When I have a good friend, I think ‘man, I’m going to teach you bass’ because we get along so well. I like to surround myself with people that make me happy.” Voss’s ‘people first’ strategy in building a band has always worked well for him. Voss said, “Lately, we’ve been getting into reggae rock.”
Alchemical Records got the opportunity to sit down with Voss for a chat. We quickly figured out the six degrees of separation between Voss’ band, Bret Michaels and the homeless community in Woodbridge, a connection even Voss did not realize until our chat.
Last year, The Stormin’ Norman Band was the opener for Bret Michaels’ solo project at Ram’s Head Tavern. The guys certainly made an impression. After the show, Michaels approached Voss and said, “I’m gonna have you here next time we play. I’m going to have you open up again.”
Voss thought to himself, “He’s just being nice. He’s not legit doing it.” But, when Voss got a call from Ram’s Head six months later, he thought, “Man, he really was legit. He really meant what he said.” So again, The Stormin’ Norman Band opened for Bret Michaels at Ram’s Head.
As it turns out, Michaels’ touring band, headed by guitarist Pete Evick, is also from Prince William County, VA. Evick’s band opened for Michaels almost two decades ago, after which Michaels picked them up as his prime touring band
How is this all related to the homeless community? Well, Voss has quite an altruistic side. It all started in a Chipotle parking lot one fateful day years ago when a panhandler asked Voss for some spare change. Voss initially thought to himself, “I only have two twenties,” but it quickly shifted to “but I only have two twenties,” when he looked up and straight into the eyes of an old high school friend who was the first guy who ever taught him a lick on the guitar. We will call him Marty. Life had caught up with Marty, and he was living in a tent community in the woods of Woodbridge, VA. It was a far cry from the days when Voss played in his first band with Marty. Sadly, everybody has lost track of Marty. Life on the streets and battles with the law and drugs have pushed him down a dark path.
So, what is the connection between Marty and Bret Michaels? Back in the day, Michaels’ keyboard player, Robi Wylde, also played in a band with Marty. Voss, Marty and Robi knew each other in high school. Everything comes full circle. Robi and Norman reminisced about Marty when they shared the stage at Ram’s Head.
Voss reverted back to the profound moment in the Chipotle parking lot. That moment suddenly became very personal for Voss. He thought to himself, “Music is the one changing factor for everything. It breaks down the walls so quickly.” He felt pulled to do something, so he took his guitar and sat down in the woods with Marty and the rest of the community. Voss told us he wanted to, “sing a few songs and try to lighten their load.” Voss recalls, “It is either 100 degrees with mosquitos all over or 10 degrees and the folks are dealing with their tents caving in from the snow. There is so much to deal with.”
He continued, “If I (ask someone) ‘Who would you like me to sing?’ and they say ‘Bob Marley’ and then I do, all of a sudden we are friends.” Voss persisted and built a relationship with the men and women living in the woods. He even played into his other love of videography to record their stories and create GoFundMe pages. Voss says, “(Making videos) brings out the artist in me just as much as the music.” He has raised a little over $10,000 through GoFundMe and hosting charity concerts. Voss even hosted a concert in the woods and made this video: WATCH IT.
Norman shared one particular story about a community member, Mike Woodz. When he was just 17, Mike’s dad took him to the woods with a tent and told him, “This is now where you’ll live. We are done with you.” That was ten years ago, and Mike lived in the woods ever since that time. Mike was a troubled kid, was kicked out of high school, and could not really read or write, but he had a big spirit and became a creative rapper. Mike started a homeless outreach program called “Woodzlife Outreach”, which meets every other Sunday at noon. He helped folks get the clothes and food they need. Mike was determined to give his life purpose, even though he suffered from anxiety and had a severe struggle with alcohol. It all took its toll on him, including enduring a life under a tattered tent surrounded by rats and mud. His body could no longer process it all. Sadly, Voss recently created his last GoFundMe page for Mike’s final expenses. Mike lay in his hospice bed with friends gathered around as Voss gently sang him to sleep.
Voss’s altruism does not stop with the homeless. Voss also brings the sounds of Sinatra and Elvis to nursing home residents on a weekly basis. Voss recounted a story that illustrates the power of music. He sat down with a resident one day and asked her name. She looked at him and said, “I don’t remember.” Voss smiled at her and just started to sing an old Elvis classic “Wise men say….” and the woman responded, “Only fools rush in”. The words of Elvis could never be forgotten.
The Stormin’ Norman Band frequently performs in and around Northern VA. These guys are worth a follow and an endearing conversation. Don’t be mistaken, you will be entertained with their throwback antics. Dig a little and you will also be deeply touched by their humanity.
Kimberly Shires is a native of the DC Metropolitan area. Kimberly is a freelance writer, music degree holder, road bike warrior, songwriter, corporate ladder climber, and a Subaru driving nature enthusiast.
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