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While many may dream of breaking out of their suit-and-tie shackles in pursuit of rock stardom, dreaming is usually as far as people get. Eight Assistant U.S. Attorneys from Philadelphia, however, have traveled a little further. These eight have created a band — appropriately named Alibi — that despite humble beginnings is starting to build a sizable reputation, at least in the city’s legal community. The band is the brainchild of Virgil Walker, a Virginia native who has spent 10 years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and once served as chief assistant city solicitor in Philadelphia. Walker has been playing bass since he was 12 years old, but it was an impending annual office retreat last year that gave him the idea for the band. “They started to become mundane,” Walker said of the retreats and the entertainment they provided. “It was always the same old thing: skits and a DJ. People were leaving, and there just wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm.” Walker thought it would be fun to put together a band of his colleagues and started going door-to-door in his office to recruit talent. He ended up with Nancy Beam Winter, Rich Lloret and Alvin Stout as vocalists, drummer Joel Goldstein, Dave Troyer on trumpet, Seth Weber on saxophone and guitar, and another guitarist, Mitch Goldberg. And, according to Walker, they play everything from R&B to a little pop and some old-school funk. Original pieces are in the works as well, and Alibi is even recording its own album right now. “What I envisioned a year ago as to our limitations have disappeared, and we have gotten quite good. We’re expanding our repertoire on a monthly basis,” Walker said. Alibi’s first gig was at that retreat last spring, which most band members assumed would also be the last gig. In fact, getting the group as far as the first gig was a challenge in itself. Winter, thinking that retreat entertainment was meant to be humorous, agreed to be a vocalist with that mindset. “I thought ‘I can embarrass myself with the best of them,’ but I didn’t realize at that time that [Walker] meant for it to be serious music,” she said. Walker approached Winter because she played a lot of music in her office, and he could hear her singing along. But once she found out Walker was serious, it took a lot of convincing for her to stay on board. “I was a little reluctant because I didn’t think it would turn out to be what it turned out to be, but it turned out to be a lot of fun,” said Winter, who was formerly an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. Most of the other band members had slightly more musical experience than Winter. Troyer played trumpet in his college band, but after moving back to Philadelphia following a stint as a federal prosecutor in Miami, he hadn’t played in 20 years. That didn’t matter to Walker, though, who urged Troyer to join Alibi. According to Troyer, the only thing over which band mates have argued is the name Alibi itself. “We went through so many possible names,” he said. “Some people liked having the lawyer angle [in the name] and some people didn’t. Some thought it was a good hook; some didn’t want it to have anything to do with what we do. So ‘Alibi’ was kind of a compromise — short, catchy, made everybody happy.” Goldstein also had a strong musical background, having played drums since elementary school, playing with a band in college, and even devoting a room in his house to the drums. The band has been practicing at Goldstein’s, and apparently his family is fine with that. In college, “my wife was my groupie before she was my girlfriend, so to the amazement of my band mates, my wife was not only willing to devote our living room/dining room to the band, but she was eager to have it happen and gets as much out of it as anyone else in the band,” he said. Families are supportive of Alibi and the band members, and everyone involved has a sense of what the band adds to their lives as lawyers. “A lot of us bring our kids [to practice] and they think we’re terribly cool,” Winter said. “It’s been a creative outlet, and I think most lawyers are frustrated performers. This gives us an outlet for creative juices that got bottled up and left behind when we stopped being cool.” And that brings Alibi up to today. In June, during the Philadelphia Bar Association’s night at a Phillies game, they played at a restaurant inside the stadium afterward, and Walker claims to have drawn a nice post-game crowd. Alibi will be playing the stadium again in September. But despite the now bigger venues and the CD, in the works, Walker maintains that none of what Alibi does is for profit. The CD, for instance, will not be sold, just given out to prospective band clients and friends. “We haven’t made a dime. This is totally a way to relax, to express ourselves,” he said. “We’re all in our late 30s and 40s with families, so there are many other obligations pulling at you, and it’s easy to lose that something that you like to do. We can recapture some of our youth again.”

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