Battle of the Bar Bands ramping up

Vancouver’s Battle of the Bar Bands will feature an officially recorded lawyer band on stage June 10 at the Vancouver Commodore Ballroom.

The Disclaimers, one of the top bands in past on-stage rock-n-roll battles, has recorded “Here Comes The Kiss” available on YouTube, says Pat Haberl, a lawyer who rocks at Owen Bird Law Corp. and also has a second more commercial band, the Whethermen, which now has produced three albums (and a forth in the making) all available from iTunes.

“While we try to do original songs,” says Haberl, who will be on stage, “The reality is that is a party venue and those attending are waiting to hear well-known music. So, I try not to overload with original material.”

The battle of the bands sells out each year and annually raises $100,000 for the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association’s Benevolent Society, for a total of about $1.5 million over the event’s 15 year history.

This year’s event will feature eight bands: the Disclaimers, Chris Jackson Band, the Crumbling Skulls, House Arrest, Standard of Hair, Still Living at Home, and TOAD (Too Old and Difficult). The judges will ber a mix of lawyers with musical backgrounds, members of the judiciary, and media. This year’s media judges include radio and TV personality Vicki Gabereau and CBC radio’s Rick Cluff, who will also serve as emcee.

Stephanie Hacksel, a partner in ZSA Legal Recruitment which is the chief sponsor and provides winning cups, says good support is derived from Vancouver’s legal community with law firms making donations.

There are three cups given out each year, she says. The winning band captures the coveted top trophy cup for best band, while cups are also given out honoring the legal firm and non-legal firm that made the largest donation.

Singleton Urquhart lawyer Roger Holland, who has been involved with the event since it began and is a member of the Benevolent Society’s board, says this year’s line-up of bands included old favourites but also three newer bands, one a newly-formed group out of Surrey.

The new bands add to the competitive nature of the event and make it harder to predict a winner, he says.

“I give the judges suggested criteria for the bands such as originality, performance, and crowd response,” says Holland. The judges then rate the bands on points. Each band is made up of 80 per cent lawyers or members of a law firm.

Holland says the Battle of the Bar Bands has two objectives.

“The first is to raise money for the CBABC Benevolent Society,” he says. “The second is to provide once a year an entertaining evening for the audience who turn out.”

He says the battle is a great outlet for the legal community’s creative musicians. Many have played in bands or still play in bands professionally, he says, but there are also those who are “pretty darn good and could have played in bands professionally.”

The CBABC Benevolent Society is a provider of last recourse, says Holland, as each year it provides money to lawyers whose insurance may not cover costs of a medical or personal emergency or tragedy.

Holland says there have been “horrific” stories of illness and events that have affected lawyers, such as dealing with a child with a rare disease or needing financial support for medical services.

“We routinely provide grants to a lot of deserving people,” says Holland. “We have people who fall between the cracks and this is a way for lawyers to take care of their own.”

Tickets for the event can also be purchased on an individual basis ($35 for non-lawyers and $75 for lawyers) as well.

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