Bell Appeal Takes Audiences Home During Their Winter Concert

Posted By Derek Nance on Mar 10, 2014 | 1 comment


I will admit that I have a very strong bias towards loving everything this group does, but Bell Appeal knocked their most recent concert out of the part, and now I have the video evidence to prove it.  Entitled “When I Think of Home”, their concert featured covers of popular songs that had to do with homes of all sorts.  For those who haven’t seen Bell Appeal or my rants about them, this San Francisco based ensemble performs original covers of pop tunes arranged by members of the group.  Other musicians, including singers, drummers, and string players, join them at every concert.  This cover of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men arranged by Kelli Bruno is a great introduction into Bell Appeal’s unique handbell concerts.

Since my home in Reno, Nevada is only a few hours away from San Francisco, I try and make it over to their concerts every season (the post last month about how far is too far to travel was all about my adventures getting to this concert).  However, this concert happened during a giant blizzard on the Sierra Mountains, so I was unable to attend.  Instead I was stuck at home drinking hot chocolate.

In a previous post about Bell Appeal we received several comments complaining that the handbells were not front and center in their arrangements.  Well it is true that vocalists and other instruments typically take the melody lines during their concerts, handbells are the core of every arrangement.  But to quell all the fuss, here is a cover of “House At Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins, arranged by William Kyle, performed on only bells.

“I really enjoyed the possibilities it presented” commented Jen Hayes, a ringer and arranger in Bell Appeal, when asked about the theme for the concert.  “A lot of those pieces had been brewing for awhile and we finally noticed we had a theme sitting right in front of us”.  In addition to home themed music, the group also included stories about each ringer’s home in the program instead of the traditional ringer bios.

My favorite video from the concert is this arrangement of “Home” by Marc Broussard, arranged by Cliff Riley (who is also conducting in the video below).  Between the drummer and table malletting, the percussion line on this piece groves and drives the piece from beginning to end.  The ringers lay down gnarly chords to accompany the sultry voice of Shawn Dulaney who soars over the top of the arrangement.  This is the type of arrangement I can envision hearing at a smokey bar somewhere after a long days work, the singer holding a whiskey on the rocks in his hand, the dim lighting reflecting off the bells creating dancing specs of light through the haze.

If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area during one of Bell Appeal’s concert weekends, I would highly recommend stopping by one of their performances.  All the members of the groups are amazing people to hang out with, and after attending a few of their concerts, their bell family feels more like home to me.

What is your favorite song about home?  Would it sound good on bells?