For the past decade, a visit to many of Washington's pubs has brought an entertaining barrage of music and chatter provided by a disc jockey or "spinner" from Nard's Rock and Roll Review.
Yesterday, the company formed by a group of local musical contractors celebrated its 10th anniversary, a cultural milestone of sorts for Washington, with a party at the Pierce Street Annex.
Nard's is the brainchild of Mike Nardella, a 33-year-old Georgetown University graduate. Beginning with a few friends and a collection of nearly 3,000 records, he has turned an avocation into a profitable business.
In addition to its regular bar accounts in and around the District, Nard's platter pushers spin the records at resorts in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Cape Cod, Mass., and at bars near the Vermont ski resorts at Killington and Stowe Mountain.
But the local clientele has proven to be Nard's mainstay.
"The bar business is what keeps my business a business," Nardella said in a hoarse voice. "The private parties and college work, that's gravy."
Currently, Nard's has accounts with 27 bars in the Washington area. And on average, his troops work 125 shifts each week.
In the last decade, Nard's Rock and Roll review has played more than 30,000 shows at colleges, pubs, private parties and receptions, Nardella said.
He has 35 spinners working 30 sets of 3,000 records each in bars around the city, and an office staff of eight that manages the logistics for this travelling musical circus.
His company also provides disc jockeys for private parties, and maintains 14 trucks to haul sound equipment.
Nardella is optimistic about his company's future, saying he plans to continue expanding and playing the rock-and-roll "oldies" format. Sources in the company said they expect Nard's to reach $1 million in yearly sales in the next 18 months.
Spokesman Gene McCarthy said the company also plans to expand soon into video taping, sound system installation and repair and promotion consulting.
Nardella said his business survives because of "the popularity of good old rock and roll."
Nardella said that when he started the business in 1972, his disc jockeys weren't always well received.
That was "before disco," he said. At that time, "a guy playing records was something out of the past. It was a novelty and often was not accepted." Nard's survived because it delivered a good product, he said. "We stuck to rock and roll."