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VOL. 126 | NO. 158 | Monday, August 15, 2011



Rock for Love: A Benefit With Edge

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

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Five years ago, Marvin Stockwell and Jeff Hulett, the Church Health Center’s guitar-swinging public relations duo, decided to throw a benefit concert featuring local and regional bands.

Oracle on the Mountain, left, and The Burning Sands return this year to play the Church Health Center's Rock for Love 5 with more than 20 Memphis bands and artists. The four-day rock festival brings newer and older Memphis musicians to stages across Midtown.

(Photos: Blair Ball)

Now their creation, “Rock for Love,” has taken on a life of its own, having been expanded into four days and multiple venues with support from more established artists and newbie bands alike.

Rock For Love 5, the most festival-like incarnation of the event to date, will run from Aug. 18 to 21 at the Hi-Tone Cafe and various other Midtown locations.

“We’ve grown it incrementally over the years, which wasn’t always the point, it’s just the way it’s gone down,” said Hulett, CHC’s PR and communications coordinator. “It’s really turned into a rock festival. Dr. (Scott) Morris, founder of CHC, always says he loves Rock for Love because it’s edgy.”

That’s right. No silent auction, no hot hors d’oeuvres, no jazz trio playing quietly in the corner.

Rather, Hulett and Stockwell raided the ranks of Memphis’ top rock, pop, funk, hip hop, and alternative bands, pulling together a lineup of high-decibel soundsters that reads like a Who’s Who of area performers.

Many of them, said Hulett, have received services from the CHC while working as uninsured musicians. CHC provides low-cost health coverage and emergency clinic services for the working poor.

But don’t expect a sermon at the concerts.

“We definitely want people to know that (the concerts) benefit CHC, but it’s going to be a festival atmosphere,” Hulett said. “Once it’s time to rock, we rock.”

Headlining Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Hi-Tone is Star & Micey, the folk/pop crossover band, signed by Ardent Studios, whose guitarists play percussion with their feet when necessary.

Originally a guitar trio, Star & Micey, launched their debut album in 2009 and has since added three new members.

They are preceded by The Near Reaches, who will perform with J.D. Reager, another Rock for Love organizer.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, Southern rock band Richard James and the Special Riders take the stage followed by The Sharp Balloons. A second, late-night show will begin at 9:30 featuring the likes of Hulett’s band, Glorie, The Angel Sluts, Midnight, first-time performer Cities Aviv and Stockwell’s band PEZZ.

PEZZ, with multiple albums under their belts, combines tooth-gnashing heavy metal with raging lyrics aimed at social justice issues like war, poverty and racial equality.

Cities Aviv, a combination of rap and electronic DJ artistry, made a splash by releasing their debut album in 2010, also following similar punk themes.

On Saturday afternoon, Shangri-La Records will host free afternoon concerts for families featuring Wuvbirds, The Perfect Vessels, Silver Seeds and Bake Sale, which will actually offer a bake sale at the concert. Free TCBY frozen yogurt, hula-hoops and a Memphis Grizzlies water slide also will be offered.

It’s back to business Saturday, Aug. 20, with Oracle and the Mountain, the Subteens, The Burning Sands, another newcomer Kruxe and Tiger High, all playing the Hi-Tone.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, a second free concert, this one outdoors at the gazebo at the corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue is slated with The Bo-Keys with guest Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, Susan Marshall and John Kilzer.

Marshall, whose soul music combines elements of both London and Memphis music, has released four albums.

“In the past we’ve focused on younger bands and up-and-coming bands, but we wanted to reach out and get some more established bands too,” said Hulett, noting the near-legend status of the Sunday lineup.

Tickets at the door are $10 all nights except Thursday, which is $5, or tickets can be purchased online at hitonememphis.com.

Last year the event raised more than $39,000 for CHC and Hulett hopes to break that record this year – and hear some fresh tunes.

“Rock for Love for me is a way to see some new bands,” he said.

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