Moonlighting Attorneys Learn Laws Of Rock 'N' Roll

Band: The First Rule Is To Have Fun For This Group Of Professionals, Which Will Come Out Of The Basement Tomorrow For A Premiere Show That Will Benefit Homeless Shelters.

April 25, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

On Wednesdays of most weeks, Blues, Pic, Too Tall, Slim and the rest of the guys gather for a jam session in a Cockeysville basement, cranking up the amplifiers and forgetting their other lives for a while.

These trial attorneys -- who have adopted nicknames for their alter egos -- are preparing for a more pressing challenge than their usual briefs and depositions.

Saturday,in their first public appearance, they will perform in front of hundreds of friends, relatives and strangers in a concert to benefit two South Baltimore homeless shelters.

"We're not worried about giving up our day jobs," laughed John "Too Tall" Nagle, 42, of Bodie, Nagle, Dolina, Smith and Hobbs during a recent rehearsal. "But we have a lot of fun, and we'll do some good for folks at the same time."

The eight-member group was formed about a year ago by Joe "Blues" Williams, 46, an insurance lawyer, to fulfill a lifelong dream to play in a band. He solicited other lawyers by placing an ad in the Daily Record.

That's how guitarist Eric "Pic" Belk, 35, of Westminster became involved. He then got Erik "Bear" Velapoldi, 26, of Homeland, a colleague at Semmes, Bowen and Semmes, to join as keyboard player.

"We're serious lawyers," Williams said. "But we wanted to forget the stress and hassle."

In no time, attorneys turned guitarists, singers and tambourine players started showing up in Williams' clubroom for an evening of beer, pretzels and music.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," said the group's harmonica player, Brad "Slim" Hallwig, 46, of Anderson, Coe and King. "Being a trial lawyer, I'm used to being on my feet and making a fool of myself."

Even novice guitarist Bruce "Iceman" Frost, 43, who has a private practice in Baltimore, has found a calling. "I was very unsure of myself," he said. "It's proven to be fun."

Calling itself the Bulgers Blues Band, the group plays blues, rock 'n' roll, reggae and country.

"We're playing music we like," Williams said. "Before we knew it, we were doing songs people recognized."

The prospect of performing for charity has made the venture even more meaningful.

"The point is to try to scare up some money for good causes," Williams said.

"We'd like to raise money for people who need it."

The benefit from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church is only the beginning. A battle of the bands for charity is being planned between the attorneys and the Wild Type, a group of Johns Hopkins Hospital researchers.

"We may have to send some spies," joked Wild Type guitarist Bob Casero, 44, a molecular pharmacologist.

Meanwhile, the Bulgers have been practicing furiously -- and loudly.

On a recent night, Williams' rambling, two-story house off Falls Road thumped with music as the band traded business attire for jeans and sweat shirts.

Williams' four children wandered in and out of the room. His wife, Jill, takes the weekly noisy distraction in stride.

"It makes my artistic husband happy," she said. "This has given him an outlet."

Indeed, donning a brown cowboy hat and singing the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," Williams appeared to be a happy man.

"All he wanted was a band," said attorney Lynn Angotti, who works with Williams and was enjoying 41-year-old attorney Patrick "Mojo" Sullivan's rendition of "I'm a Man."

Sullivan, an insurance attorney, snagged his high-school buddy, Bill "Just Bill" Floyd, 41, of Westminster to play drums. As the band's only nonlawyer, Floyd, a heavy equipment operator, holds his own with the group.

"You wouldn't even know they're lawyers," he said. "But I guess I never have to worry about being sued."

During the rehearsal, the band went through the Beatles' "Revolution" three times before feeling comfortable with it.

"It's so much fun ending at the same time," guitarist Nagle said.

Added Williams, "It's really stunning to get seven lawyers to agree on the same thing -- and in the same room."

Tickets are $5 for the benefit concert. Information: 410-752-5917.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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