bells of... just as blondie was a group... so was bells of

back in high school somehow I joined up with a number of very interesting people
a number of these people were super creative and high achieving
high acheiving in unconventional ways
me... I have always be a C minus slacker
c minus slacker in all ways
but... somehow I managed to surround myself with some shinning stars

one of these highly creative individuals was lawrence mcdonald
lawrence was and is a free thinker
an artist with only one thing more expansive than his creativity... his work ethic
lawrence was high achieving in most everything that he desired
a chess player in the game of life
a talented skateboarder
a skilled mountain biker
and of course... a guitar genius

much of what made lawrence so strong as a musician was those who he surrounded himself with
the band bells of had many incarnations and involved a long list of revolving players
the drama of that band often rivaled the madness on melrose place
there were various people who floated in and out
like a dysfunctional high school relationship between young lovers
breaking up and getting back together again

when I think of bells of I usually think of one standard trio
lawrence, nate, and bass
nate being fernando carr also known as frito
and bass being ian michaels
sure there were other talented members that contributed
but I think that this trio may have jammed together the longest

the three together played a funky jazz groove that flowed
nate could hit the skins as hard as he skated... but he often chose to be as smooth on the drums as he was in the air
and bass... well... there is a reason they call him bass
he was a talented bass player that could hang with lawrence
which often seemed like a challenge not entirely dissimilar to the fiddle dual in the devil went down to georgia
as lawrence was often as competitive as creative
just as he challenged others to keep up with him on the bike
lawrence challenged musicians to keep up with him on stage

those were crazy wacky times
there were clashes of egos
there was the drama of romance
there was the complaint of money
in the end I think it was more about ego
it appeared that lawrence felt that he was the band and other members were just a replaceable supporting cast

in the end I am not sure that nate and bass were ever replaced

sure bells of continued on
but I am not sure if it was ever the same
then again... I do not know what I am talking about

in recent years lawrence rejoined with his old friend tom alnutt
they had played together in one of the earliest incarnations of bells of
and then existed as one of the most recent
not sure who is in the mix now that tom has relocated to the west

lawrence is still a good friend
and his music is still strong in my rotation
of his music I think I like his earliest most simple works
all the tracks of Eleven Eleven play one of those rare records that feels like a greatest hits album
like Carol King's Tapestry or Guns and Roses' Appetite for Destruction
there are other songs off other records that meet my favor
but nothing suits my tastes quite like the tracks off 11:11 even if many of these songs are pre Nate and pre Bass

lawrence still makes music
lawrence still skates
lawrence still draws, paints, sculpts, and plays chess
that is
when lawrence is not tilling the field and planting crops on his organic farm

not sure if lawrence still rides a mountain bike
but I am sure if we went riding
he would be out ahead making me chase him

oh... lawrence plays soccer and does many other things
this was not so much supposed to be list of the games lawrence plays
but more a response to a comment on a previous post about jason farrell
more so the not yet mentioned other members of bells of... ian and fernando
I mean bass and nate
to me nate is frito or maybe another alternate nickanem I can not currently recall
jason farrell was a member of one of the early incarnations of bells of
also another battle of egos
a battle that displayed itself with guitars and skateboards
but not right now

both lawrence and jason are still jamming hard at both music and skateboarding in the present day


gwadzilla said...

where are they now?

I ran into Ian Michaels a few weeks ago
we caught up
we hung out
he is still playing music with an assortment of bands
and I think he is going to school for building musical instruments

as for Fernando Carr...
I am not sure
but I think he is still around
I have not seen him since the years of the Blair Farm
not the Blair Witch Project...
but Poolesville's own WACO COMPOUND

I heard Fernando is well...
living working etc
not sure if he skates or plays drums anymore
which would be a shame
as he was gifted

Anonymous said...

I believe Nate is in poolesville with wife and kid/kids. I heard he was still playing the drums, and likes fishing.

Mark McDonald said...

Thanks for the putting this together Joel. Bell's deservers a write up in you blog!

Have not seen Nate in a number of years. I have heard thru the grape vine that he is married, living somewhere in Poolesville and has a kid name Miles. I talked to Ian (The Bass) a few years back when he was living in New Orleans just before the Katrina disaster. He was playing with some blues band, although that wasn't really his thing. I think he wanted to hook-in some kind of new Orleans funk band and make it big, like his friend Rob McCurio and Jeff Reins who went big with that band Galactic (also from Bethesda) and now are huge. Ian was super talented from the get go. I called him 'Bass' because he could play the instrument so well to anything. He had the coolest style that few people could match or even mimic.

Speaking of the McCurio's, I think I saw John McCurio on C-SPAN the other day talking about the happenings of Capitol Hill. Funny how so many of the people that we grew up with made in big in one way or another. Like the Rayburn ramp dudes Spike Jones (Adam Speigel) and Jeff Tremaine (creator of the Jackass Show) who I when to High School with. Henry {Garfield} Rollins or Dave Grohl. It is strange that Lawrence did not make it with his music or other things. He had an interesting punk gone fusion style that was all to his own.

Speaking as his brother, Lawrence is a cool dude and he has inspired me in many ways as far as art and music. I miss him a lot and would like to see him sometime soon. Yea, we have our differences. A lot of that came from the fact that we both did so many of the same things.

I remember the first time I met you Joel, at the a rock fight at the Conn. Ave and Jones Bridge road ramp when you were hanging with Lawrence. Remember that Rock fight we had? We were lobbing pieces of pool coping at each other for over an hour! I think Nate got a piece to the head during that session. I remember I threw a bottle at Dave Travis and it popped him in the head!!! That was fun. I think you had red hair back then!! Geese, that was like 25 years ago. Wow times files. I have already been out in California for almost 7 years now.