Seven years ago, after watching a friend’s child fight for his life, Charlotte musician Justin Fedor (Ancient Cities, New Familiars) spearheaded a tribute concert to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. Since then, he’s held benefit tribute concerts for Levine twice a year at NoDa’s Neighborhood Theatre.
The semi-annual show was planned for later this month at Neighborhood, but with live-music clubs currently shuttered due to COVID-19, Fedor had to come up with an alternate plan: Following the trend, he’s taken the Tribute to Benefit online.
“We kept watching the calendar and we had to throw in the towel,” Fedor says.
The events typically feature Charlotte musicians playing the music of a certain artist, era, event, or group. In switching to a virtual event, he was able to expand the number and scope of artists.
“We decided, ‘Let’s make it even bigger and better than we could ever afford to do when it was a real concert,’” he says.
Instead of one long concert, the Tribute to Benefit Facebook page will stream performances throughout the month of June by a bevy of artists in honor of legendary songwriter John Prine (who died of complications from COVID-19 in March). Blind Melon’s Travis T. Warren kicked off the series of videos Monday, followed by Time Sawyer’s Sam Tayloe covering Prine’s “Dear Abby.”
“We’d never be able to afford to get (some of these artists) and make money for the children’s hospital,” he adds. “(This) brings more of a national presence to the tributes and more of a national spotlight to the hospital.”
Other contributors include Tyler Ramsey (Band of Horses), BJ Barham (American Aquarium), Graham Sharp (Steep Canyon Rangers), Miss Tess, Megan McCormick & Amanda Fields, Sierra Ferrell, Chris Porterfield (Field Report), Caleb Caudle, and Mark Schimick, as well as local acts Sinners & Saints, Elonzo Wesley, Wes Hamilton, and many others.
In fact, Fedor’s had so many offers from artists he’s planning to roll the fundraiser right into July.
“I cast a wide net. There are days where we’ll double up. I have more people hopping on midstream,” he says. “There’s no sense in stopping. Now more than ever I feel prone to do the music of black artists for July.”
Fedor recognizes there are a lot of organizations that need help right now. But he sees aid for sick children and their parents at Levine as having a broader impact.
“When the hospital is dealing with COVID-19, a donation to the hospital is helping with COVID-19. Levine is an organization that believes black lives matter, so it’s also a donation to helping black lives that matter,” he explains. “That’s why they’re so vital to support. When you look around at all the worries we have right now, they all affect children. Levine affects those in a positive way and deals with the things children are trying to combat.”