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Fundraiser for Levine Children's Hospital pays tribute to the '80s 

A source of inspiration

Three times a year, a fundraiser is held at the Neighborhood Theatre for the Levine Children's Hospital. The concert series features numerous local bands coming together to pay tribute to various musicians for a good cause.

Past performances have included tributes to the Everly Brothers, outlaw country, the music of New York City, The Doors and Lou Reed.

"With the help of DrumStrong, Maxx Music and Neighborhood Theatre, the concert series has raised just over $30,000 for the hospital," organizer Justin Fedor says. "I chose the Levine Children's Hospital for a lot of reasons, but I think the most significant is that the hospital performs what is nothing short of miracles on a daily basis. It's a center of hope in Charlotte. They are worthy not only of our adoration and applause, but also our contributions and support."

On Feb. 20, a long list of local musicians will gather again and pay tribute to music from the 1980s.

'We contacted a number of the participants to ask what it is about music from the '80s that has inspired them. Here's what they had to say:

AMIGO (PAYING TRIBUTE TO BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN)

"Music from the '80s gets a bad rap and I have never understood why. Some people think the production sounds dated but all eras have sounds that are specific to the fashion and technology of the time. College rock and independent American rock music from the '80s have a had big influence on our music and provide constant inspiration. For this show, we're focusing on one of the greatest rock and roll songwriters ever, Bruce Springsteen, who had some of his biggest hits in the '80s. It's a little bit more refined and pop oriented than the kinds of songs we usually play but we thought it would be fun to go full-on Born In the USA in the spirit of the event!"

— Slade Baird

MAYA ATKINS (PAT BENATAR)

"I was in 2nd grade when I first heard Pat Benatar's greatest hits. The music was a huge confidence booster for me. I was picked on a lot when I was in grade school and those songs made me feel empowered. I remember being in the car and asking my mom to play Heartbreaker on repeat. She's been a huge influence on me musically. She's a successful woman in rock and she just doesn't care what anyone thinks. I can't wait to rock them out!"

BLESS THESE SOUNDS UNDER THE CITY (THE SMITHS)

"As an '80s kid, I was mesmerized by the explosion of synths and electronic drum sounds, but I was particularly impressed with the sudden lushness of the guitar during that time period. Pop music was becoming more interesting, sonically, and I liked it. A lot."

— Derrick J. Hines

BUBONIK FUNK (PRINCE)

"A lot of our favorite artists played and wore some questionable things in the '80s, George was naturally our first thought. George Michael, you ask? No! George Clinton of course! But in the end we agreed excitedly on another more mercurial artist who was just as influential: Prince."

— Dylan Ellett

REEVE COOBS (THE PRETENDERS)

"I picked The Pretenders for the tribute and I did so with no hesitation. I'm a child of the '80s from a small town, but I was too young to know about underground or indie bands, so Top 40 radio/MTV was all I had for finding new music. I remember the first time I saw the video for 'Brass in Pocket,' I was mesmerized by Chrissie Hynde and her unique voice and confidence. She was one of my first role models as a budding artist. She was not only a great songwriter but she played an instrument which was something I didn't see many women artists doing. I didn't see an artist who was 'good for a girl' she was just plain good and that inspired me to strive to become the same."

DUST & ASHES (THE CARS)

"We are covering The Cars and they're by far one of my favorite bands from the '80s. I was a child of the '80s, so to say this era of music is nostalgic is an understatement. My fondest childhood memory is me sliding around in my socks in the kitchen while my mom cooked to dinner to Bob Seger's 'Old Time Rock & Roll.'"

— Heather Himes

EVERGONE (BRYAN ADAMS)

"I think for us, the '80s was the decade of firsts. First bands, first gigs, first tours. It was our early education into the world of music. The '80s were our stepping stone to becoming the musicians we are today. We're incredibly thankful to be able to help, in some small way, the wonderful people at Levine Children's Hospital continue their mission of miracles."

— Larry Kohler

CHARLIE KING (TEARS FOR FEARS)

'80s music has been a wonderful mystery to me. And I've learned to love mysteries.

LIL SKRITT (RICK JAMES)

"Rick James made not only a huge impact on R&B in the '80s but also pop, rock 'n' roll and soul music in general. It is by far an honor and a privilege to be able to carry on his legacy with such talented musicians."

SINNERS & SAINTS (VIOLENT FEMMES)

"As a child of the 80's, the music of that decade definitely had an impact on me, especially with the advent of MTV. We chose The Violent Femmes for one because a lot of folks compare us to them. And also because they had a sound that was very unique and really set them apart from other '80s bands."

— Perry Fowler

TOLEMAN RANDALL (DIRE STRAITS)

"I was influenced by lots of music made in the '80s. One that really sticks out and is seared into my mind is the guitar riff in Dire Straits' 'Money for Nothing.' It has to be one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time. I remember watching the music video so many times growing up in the '80s."

— Grant Funderburk

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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