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Being For The Benefit of. . .

Musicians rally for causes and issues

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After watching three 9/11-themed television documentaries Friday evening, I decided to check the Rock The Vote rally being held at Tremont Music Hall. Whether I did it due to a feeling of guilt -- hey, I should get out there and do something! -- or because I needed a beer to mask the sheer depression of watching it all is an even-steven toss-up.

I got to the show at the end of Calibi Yau's set, yet another fine demonstration by the angular (both musically and otherwise) young crew. Grabbing a couple of complimentary Erskine Bowles stickers, I checked out the voter registration tables, told the people there that yes, I was registered, and no, I'm not going to tell you who I'm voting for (pay no attention to these dastardly Bowles stickers in my hand! It's just a Democratic dirty trick!).

After a short while, the band Baleen hit the stage. I'm not sure of their registration status, but they evidently took a straw poll backstage and Voted to Rock, as they crushed the first few songs.

Soon, I decided to continue my patriotic revelry by heading to the Steeple Lounge to see the band Babyshaker -- who may be the most improved band in town, bar none. I grabbed a scotch and soda, speaking of bars, and settled in to watch the show. While not billed as such, this show also turned into a sort of voter registration rally, with Babyshaker frontman Scott Weaver exhorting the crowd to register if they hadn't already at every break (which, if you've ever seen them, you know happens every two-and-a-half minutes).

Turnout was relatively small at both events, suggesting musical as well as voter apathy. I give 'em all credit for trying, however. You don't see Jim Brickman or Toby Keith or any of those guys putting together Rock the Vote shows, even though they could probably nab hundreds of folks at a time while still making their precious dollars. Rock the Vote? For too many, it's more like Don't Rock the Boat.

Saturday evening, it was off to the annual Spread Your Wings benefit. As the son of a cancer survivor, I usually dig deep for this one, even as I wonder about the maddening lack of progress in finding a cure.

The show was a highlight for three reasons. First, someone finally came up with a good excuse for charging four dollars for a beer. Second, one of my raffle tickets came up a winner, something of a first for me (Kabob Grill, here I come!). Third, there was the music: two of Charlotte's finest acts in David Childers and the Modern Don Juans and The Houston Brothers, two of the Triangle's finest in Kenny Roby and Tres Chicas, and alt.country climber Matthew Ryan topping everything off. (Speaking of "Ryan," Chicas member Caitlin Cary said backstage that any whispers of a Whiskeytown reunion with Ryan Adams are ludicrous, as the two haven't spoken in nearly a year, though they remain friendly.)

The plucky Adams has always been known as a quick-change artist, whether artistically or otherwise, but he has nothing on Modern Don Juan Mark Lynch. The long-haired bass player's famous mop -- almost reaching ass level after a year or two of fertile growth -- came off Saturday evening as part of the Locks For Love program, wherein both Lynch and Missi Ivie lost about a foot-and-a-half of hair apiece. After the Samson treatment, Lynch rushed backstage, beer in hand, for a quick cut-and-style while bandleader David Childers, a barbershop kind of guy, somewhere rolled his eyes and waited for his bass player to hit the stage.

After a few minutes, Lynch arose, ran some pomade through his hands, and set about constructing the artistic marvel that is the pompadour. His signature look back in the Lou Ford days, this haircut is a gravity-defying masterpiece worthy of a Frank Gehry.

But what of the lost locks? They're slated to become part of a wig, which will be used by people undergoing cancer treatment; you know, in lieu of the artificial kind. They're said to be a little safer to use, but anyone who knows Lynch knows you might want to keep open flame away from it just in case.

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