Musicians of Moorestown: Tom McBride

After thirty years away from his drum kit, local drummer Tom McBride found the beat once again.

Special to the Sun

This is the fifth in a series of articles profiling musicians in Moorestown. This week’s article highlights local drummer Tom McBride.

Growing up, Tom McBride was that fellow who was always tapping his feet. So, when he was around 12 years old, McBride saved his paper route money and bought his first drum set.

Having worked hard and saved up for the set himself, his parents agreed he could keep the drums so long as he played them in the garage.

A Korean War veteran, McBride’s father played drums in a jazz band at the officer’s club where they were stationed in Korea. McBride grew up hearing the stories, and somewhere between hearing about his father’s jazz band days and listening to Buddy Rich Big Band records with him, McBride picked up his sticks and learned to play by ear.

During his teenage years, McBride formed a band with a few of his friends. He said they were nothing more than a bunch of guys playing together. Inspired by the classic rock artists of the time, they covered the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Who. Too young to rock out at nightclubs, the group played outdoor pool parties

McBride found himself playing less during his college years, and at age 21, he played for what would be the last time in a while. A wedding band heard McBride was a drummer and invited him up on stage. Together, they played a Creedence Clearwater Revival song, and then McBride gave up the drums for nearly 30 years

He was accepted to law school and decided serious lawyers didn’t play the drums. He gave his set to his younger cousin and focused on his legal career. Between having raising two kids in Moorestown and his career, there wasn’t much time left for playing, and he said the musical part of his life “faded from memory.”

Looking back, McBride said he was operating under some pretty foolish logic.

“I was crazy to deny myself something that I like,” McBride said.

When McBride was in his late 40s, First Presbyterian Church was interested in having a contemporary worship service and in need of a drummer. McBride’s wife, Ann, volunteered him for the job.

Despite not having sat at his kit in years, the music came back to McBride like riding a bike, and he’s played in the band ever since. McBride’s resurgence in the musical world led him to play outside the church as well, as he began jamming and playing various gigs with other bands in Moorestown.

These days, McBride is also collaborating with local guitarist Bill Citerone, and they are producing original songs. He said their goal is to lay down enough tracks for an entire album they give to friends and as a demo tape for when they want to book gigs.

For his 50th birthday, McBride’s wife surprised him with a guitar. While drums came naturally to McBride, the guitar has posed a bit more of a challenge. He said guitar has required a bit more study, and he’s currently putting in the work to learn.

He’s also serving as teacher to his 4-year-old grandson John Kelly who became fascinated with the drums after watching one of his grandfather’s church performances. McBride said his grandson came up to the set one day after church had let out and asked to play. McBride obliged, and his grandson picked up the sticks and went to town.

So now, when his grandson comes over, they go down to the basement and play the drums together. McBride said his grandson’s playing has gone from random noises to slowly learning how to play, and the time they’ve spent at the kit together is something he holds dear.

“I’ll cherish that all my life,” McBride said.

Know a local band, vocalist or performer who should get featured in the series? Email Kelly Flynn at kflynn@newspapermediagroup.com with suggestions.