The tenth annual Battle of the Bands, the lawyer-led benefit for the homeless in D.C., gets underway Thursday night. Eighteen bands will play on two stages starting at 7 p.m. at The Black Cat in Northwest D.C. The band that raises the most money from fans and colleagues will be declared champion, more or less regardless of talent.
The event, also known as Banding Together, is sponsored by Gifts for the Homeless, Inc., a non-profit founded in 1986 by law firms and legal organizations. All the proceeds go toward the purchase of clothing, blankets and other essential items that are distributed free to homeless shelters throughout the area. Last year's competition among 16 bands raised $275,000. This year, bands have encouraged fans to donate beforehand on crowdrise.com. "It's shaping up as more, bigger and better than ever," said GFTH board member Jim Villa.
As usual, the competition is fierce -- and not just over the music and donations. It's also about the band names, many of which only lawyers could love, or understand. There's Constantine Cannon's band called Nunc Pro Funk, and Jazz Ipsa Loquitor, a creation of lawyers from Foley & Lardner and Lerman Senter. The Soul Practitioners draw lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis, Dawson & Associates, and Sullivan & Worcester, and then there are the Estoppelgangers from Latham & Watkins.
"We tried to come up with a legal pun kind of name," said Latham associate Dean Baxtresser, a member of the Estoppelgangers, which got together months ago without a name. After playing at open mike nights, Baxtresser said, the band's four members from Latham were encouraged to compete in the Battle of the Bands and come up with a moniker. Baxtresser describes the band's sound as "eclectic," with sounds from guitar, cello, oboe, keyboard and voice -- but no drums. "It's a fun way to do something outside of work, and for a great cause."
At Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, the seven-member band called Redacted has been practicing weekly for two months in preparation for Thursday's event, says managing partner Barbara McCurdy. "In addition to the pro bono work Finnegan engages in on behalf of veterans, asylum-seekers, and other groups in need of legal representation, supporting Gifts for the Homeless is a very direct way to give back to the community in which we practice," she said.
Among top sponsors going into the event are Hogan Lovells and Kirkland. The National Law Journal/ Legal Times is also a sponsor.