When Justin Fedor isn't dividing his time between the folk-rock outfits The New Familiars and Ancient Cities, he's busy planning benefit shows at the Neighborhood Theatre. On May 31, his third benefit for the Levine Children's Hospital will take place — this one's a tribute to the Everly Brothers. The first event, which took place in July 2013, was a tribute to the Doors, shortly after the death of keyboardist Ray Manzarek. The second event was held last February and was a tribute to Lou Reed. "We're trying to do these three or four times a year," Fedor says. "It's not specifically tied to artists' deaths, but it's an opportunity to take something negative or that we're losing something great in the music community and do something positive."
Creative Loafing: How did these benefit shows get started?
Justin Fedor: I've always been toying with the idea of a tribute concert. The Neighborhood Theatre approached me with a date they had open and wanted to know if either of my bands wanted to play. I said, 'What if we did a benefit and got a ton of Charlotte bands to play? Ray Manzarek just passed away, so we can do The Doors.' Each band plays two to three cover songs. We've all been shaped by the bands that are selected. I've been in the Charlotte music community for almost 10 years now and, thankfully, made more friends than enemies. I just reach out to bands I know, or those who have reached out to me. What's been awesome is that bands don't just want to do the hits, but want to explore more of an artist's catalog. You won't see that from a cover band. It's a tribute show. We encourage artistic interpretation. We also have a superjam at the end with members of lots of different bands.
Why did you choose Levine Children's Hospital?
Kids don't deserve to be in hospital beds. Levine is a real beacon of hope in our community. All of the money raised goes to the hospital directly. It's a suggested $10 donation, but you can make a donation online through buying presale tickets, too. With the first two events, we've raised right around $8,000 and we're hoping to break $10,000 after this one. I don't think families should have to go bankrupt to keep their children alive, so whatever the music community can do, we're gonna do it.
How do you find time to plan a benefit while playing in two bands?
Time doesn't allow for much. The New Familiars are touring and playing festivals; Ancient Cities is, too, and about to release its first album in July; and I play some solo shows. I live and die by my calendar and I'm constantly trying to find time to balance it all. The biggest thing is to take a breath and enjoy life. It's beautiful to see so many people in the Charlotte music community find the time to take it seriously and come together to make the benefit happen.