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Bulletin Summer 2013

Special Interest Bob Norman A History of O r g a inn tihze eBBdA Music With the recent passing of Braxton Schell, my old cohort in the Soul Practitioners band from the 1980s, I felt compelled to author an article touting the virtues of past and present members of the Birmingham Bar who have played either organized or disorganized music over the years. My research as to the early days of the Bar up to the 1980s was not as fruitful as I had hoped. Sam Rumore was aware that in the 1930s, Nina Miglionico played piano in the student orchestra while at UA law school and she also taught piano. After one of her law professors learned that she was playing in the group, he retorted that apparently her law school curriculum was not keeping her busy enough. Judge Claude Hughes played saxophone with groups including the Harrison Cooper Orchestra and the Alabama Knights. Judge Josh Mullins was an accomplished jazz pianist who played with several groups. Tony Cicio, Sr., was compelled by his parents to play an instrument as a child. He chose the saxophone which he continued to play with several groups as a bar member. In 1984, Mike Wright, who had played drums in high school and college, and I came up with what we thought would be a fun idea. We would assemble a group of lawyers to form a band and play a onetimeonly performance at a Young Lawyers Party. With the concept outlined, we set about to recruit players. Years before, I had played in a high school group with Charlie Beavers, and knew that John Hall also played keyboards in a high school band and with the group Flashback, a ‘50s and ‘60s reunion group. I called John and he suggested we include the late Vaughn Blalock, another guitarist who was also in Flashback. I called Beavers and he suggested we include the late Braxton Schell, his fellow associate at Bradley Arant, who played harmonica. Braxton had played in e Fabulous Torpedoes along with John Chiles so we included Chiles as the bass player. We were o” and running. Jim Burford, a long time musician who was then a part owner of Louie Louie’s Bar in the Barbers Building on Highland Avenue, was invited in as a guitarist and we had our alllawyer band. Mike and I considered dozens of catchy legal names for the band before Mike came up with the name Soul Practitioners. We then learned that the next Young Lawyers Party was scheduled for Louie’s, and with the cautious approval of the Young Lawyers board, we had our gig. Our instrumentation was either limited or nonexistent, so Burford made arrangements for us to use the band Telluride’s equipment for the show. ˜ e group met at Mike Wright’s home and after extensive posturing and negotiations agreed on a list of 8 songs we would play. Practices at Mike’s house were noisy, fractious at times, but fun. Most would shudder at the idea of an attempt at any organized endeavor with that many lawyers! But egos notwithstanding, the guys learned to deal with and tolerate each other. John Chiles graciously agreed to allow me to play bass (so I would have something to play) and he moved to saxophone. We seemed to get better with every practice and felt we were œ nally ready in the nick of time the day before the ˜ ursday party. 16 Birmingham Bar Association


Bulletin Summer 2013
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