BELLS≥ Recording at the Magpie Cage

My band, BELLS≥, recorded the first of our North American Spirituals this past weekend at the Magpie Cage in Baltimore. The piece is called “The First Ray.” We debuted it last year on tour, and although we’ve kept the overall structure intact from that version, there have been some significant changes that we hope familiar listeners will enjoy.

Among these changes is J. Robbins joining us on bass. We were all quite pleased working together on Solutions, Silence, and Affirmations and it seemed a natural move for us to include him on this and future recordings. We look forward to his contributions to the remaining Spirituals as we move towards composing and recording the entire cycle.

A Note on the Recent BELLS≥ Tour

My band BELLS≥1 recently completed a week-long tour, performing seven consecutive nights, sharing the bill with Nashville’s Friendship Commanders and D.C.’s The EFFECTS. We are grateful for their fellowship, to say nothing of their extraordinary talents. Their nightly performances were each an inspiration and their company a delight.


Except for some illness in our group, it was a smooth traversal, and audiences, whatever their constituents might have numbered, were supportive and enthusiastic. We hadn’t performed at all in almost 2 years and not outside of NYC in 3, and it was a true pleasure to find such a response after such a long time away.


The above photo was taken by Buick Audra of Friendship Commanders at St. Stephen’s in DC. We were fortunate to have Gordon Withers accompany us on cello that night. He is among the most supportive, intuitive, and collaborative musicians we know. It is our privilege each time he joins us.

Two other firsts that might be of interest: these were the first performances with our current bassist, Sean H. Doyle; and there were two new compositions in our set, “The First Ray” and “May You Bury Me.”

Those are more or less the facts of the matter. We saw many friends and family members among whom were mothers, siblings, and myriad cousins. We were fortunate enough to be joined by some of our closest and favorite music-friends and collaborators, and owe special thanks to Day of the Locust, Callowhill, and J. Robbins for help setting up the shows. Additional thanks to Drew O’Doherty, and still further thanks to old and new friends who made it out, promoters who took the time and opened their doors to us, and everyone else who bobbed, danced, watched, listened, swayed, swung, tapped, shopped, clapped, or otherwise joined in.

  1. I’ll take the liberty of speaking for us here, in the first-person plural.