2019 Banding Together: Lawyers Prepare to Battle on Stage

By John Murph

June 17, 2019

Banding Together
The Unnamed Party’s Art Schmalz, Ellis Butler, Emily Bolles, Asher Levine, Tony Fabic, and V. Gerard Comizio are ready to battle it out with other law firm bands on June 20 at the 16th annual Banding Together benefit concert.


In early May, V. Gerard Comizio, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, hunkered down inside a rehearsal room at 7DrumCity with five other legal professionals. He wielded a guitar, as did Ellis Butler and Tony Fabic. Keyboardist Art Schmalz, singer Emily Bolles, and drummer Asher Levine rounded out the sextet. Together, they call themselves the Unnamed Party, a combo that’s been together for 10 years, with some replacements along the way.

In preparation for the 16th annual Banding Together benefit concert on June 20, the Unnamed Party workshopped grungy covers of such 1970s and ’80s hits as Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” and A-Ha’s “Take on Me.” The concert, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the District’s Black Cat, is a fundraiser for Gifts for the Homeless (GFTH), a local nonprofit that provides clothing and blankets to the homeless in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

A new, seventh band member, Joe Reid, principal of the Law Office of Joseph Reid, will join the Unnamed Party at the concert. Other bands, all composed of legal professionals, scheduled to perform include Redacted, the Collusion, Sutherland Comfort, and Larry and the Land-Lawyers. Fourteen groups in total will compete to raise the most money for GFTH. Last year, the event raised more than $240,000, with the Unnamed Party taking first prize by bringing in more than $40,000.

In addition to money donated through the bands’ individual CrowdRise fundraising webpages, jugs bearing each band’s name will be available at the venue to collect more donations from concertgoers.

After rehearsal, Comizio, who is vice president of GFTH’s board of directors, mentioned that five trophies will be awarded at the event. “They’ll announce the winners from the stage around midnight, after they have tabulated all of the dollars collected,” he said.

Comizio said Banding Together is one of the hottest fundraising events involving lawyers in Washington, D.C. Unsurprisingly, many of the attendees are attorneys, law students, and other people in the legal profession. Then there’s a host of supporters outside the legal field who join in the fun. “The audience is pretty diverse,” he said. “We try to play to a broad demographic. In the music market, the demographic is segmented. So, that’s a challenge. We err on the side of playing bigger hits.”

Liz Bailey, an associate at Buckley LLP, sings and plays keyboards with Buckle Up, another band that will perform at Banding Together. She, too, serves on GFTH’s board of directors. This will be her fifth year performing at the event. Playing with Buckle Up has been rewarding both professionally and personally, Bailey said.

“Every year, our band gathers together a cross-section of firm employees and friends to make music, share ideas, and have fun, all for a great cause,” she said. “I’ve also formed lasting relationships with other D.C. lawyers and industry partners through the event as well as through my work on the GFTH board. Most of all, it’s just so satisfying, after a full day of work, to play some rock and roll.”