Dan Laino has played the drums at bar mitzvahs and for the U.S. Marines and at all sorts of events in between. Currently he plays for the praise and worship team at Plymouth Church of Christ in Plymouth, N.C., and for the Rocky Hock Opry, which is coming to Suffolk soon. (Submitted Photo)
Dan Laino has played the drums at bar mitzvahs and for the U.S. Marines and at all sorts of events in between. Currently he plays for the praise and worship team at Plymouth Church of Christ in Plymouth, N.C., and for the Rocky Hock Opry, which is coming to Suffolk soon. (Submitted Photo)

Archived Story

Drumming for Jesus

Published 11:08pm Saturday, September 7, 2013

‘Time to give back’ for Rocky Hock musician

By Frank Roberts

Correspondent

Dan Laino was a for-real Marine, and he has twice been a make-believe FBI agent. He has been restoring cars for 40 years, and his current project is a 1972 Opel GT, with a 2-door Chevrolet coupe probably next in line.

He is also restoring his 108-year-old Victorian house in Plymouth, N. C.

But folks in Suffolk will recognize him as the drummer for the Rocky Hock Opry, which is planning a two-hour fundraiser for the Nansemond River Pilot Club on Sept. 21 at King’s Fork High School.

Laino is a no-nonsense guy. Ask for his opinion, then stand back.

“I’m not a Bible thumping, fire breathing preacher, but all I can say is that after trying to get a good grasp on what the Bible predicts in various books of the Old and New Testament, I believe that the world situation is playing itself out in today’s newspapers and on television,and that what the Bible says and what has already come to pass is more than coincidence,” he says.

“I feel real bad for our children and grandchildren.”

On a more personal level, he recalls some rugged times he and his wife have witnessed. “I can only give a good and gracious God all the glory for seeing us through it,” he concludes.

Laino believes in God. He does not believe in politicians.

“I’ve always been a registered independent,” he says. “If, somehow, these Democrats and Republicans can’t get it together, I really don’t see a very bright future for this once-great nation.”

Laino has spent a lot of time playing drums in bars and then with the United States Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps.

Currently, he drums for the Opry and the Plymouth Church of Christ Praise and Worship Team.

He began playing in his hometown Yonkers, N. Y. church at 9 years of age. His first paying gig was for a bar mitzvah.

He is tall, gray and handsome, and says he has been mistaken for several actors.

“I’ve been told I look like Jon Voight, and Martin Sheen and Chris Walken,” he says.

Laino returned to the world of opinion.

In fact, he has some experience in television, having been involved in prestigious crime shows produced by Dominion Pictures in Suffolk.

Twice, he portrayed FBI agents, given the part because he looks like a Hollywood version of said agents. He portrayed the strong, silent type — very silent, no lines. He just had to stand there and look officially tough.

He appeared on the appropriately titled, “Silencer,” and on “Cruel Deception,” both part of the “FBI Files.” series.

Laino was a Marine, as was his dad during World War II. His son, Mark, who also served, is now a detective sergeant with the Virginia Beach Police Department. Daughter, Monica, works in that city’s budget department. Granddaughters, Jessica and Megan are 13 and 14.

He met his German-born wife, Edda, at a Chicago USO.

“She picked me up,” he smiles. “That’s my story.”

His story sounds like a travelogue. “From Yonkers to the Marine Corps, from Chicago to Traverse City, Mich., back to New York, upstate this time to Somers, then to Virginia Beach, and now in Plymouth.”

After his discharge, he was a draftsman, then a salesman of HVAC equipment, then a sheet metal worker. When the family moved to Virginia Beach, he worked for the Sheriff’s Department and then retired for good.

Laino is active with the Rocky Hock Opry in Chowan, N.C., which puts on two yearly American Cancer Society Relay For Life shows. During the decade they have been entertaining in Edenton, N.C., and other areas, they have raised more than $300,000.

“I’ve come to the place in life — it is time to give back for all the blessings I’ve received,” he explains.

That also explains the decade in Virginia Beach when he played drums for visiting Christian artists at London Bridge Baptist Church, backing such well-known performers as Chris Machen, Calvin Hunt, Guy Penrod and Russ Taff.

“I have never had it so bad that it couldn’t be worse,” he says. “But if God brings you to it, He can see you through it.”

Suffolk’s Rocky Hock show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in the auditorium at King’s Fork High School.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 925-4541, 539-9988, or 621-3676.

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