Now in its 10th year, Rock for Love has become one of the most successful local music festivals around. The premise is simple: get some of the best local bands together to raise money for the Church Health Center — the largest faith-based health-care organization of its kind in the country. Last year the festival raised $50,000 for the Church Health Center, bringing the total amount raised by Rock for Love over the last decade to more than $250,000.
While each and every band brings something unique to the table, I've selected a handful of must-see acts each day at Rock for Love. With breakout stars like Julien Baker alongside local favorites like Mark Edgar Stuart and Star and Micey, the Rock for Love weekend kicks off a spectacular month of Memphis music that includes Cooper-Young Fest and concludes with the 13th annual Goner Fest.
Friday, September 2nd.
Graham Winchester — arguably one of the hardest working men in local music — was tapped to curate night one of Rock for Love at the Hi-Tone. The kick-off show features an all-local lineup of Winchester and the Ammunition, Chickasaw Mound, Mark Edgar Stuart, the Subtractions, J.D. Reager & the Cold-Blooded Three, Faux Killas, Big Baby, Devil Train, and DJ Andrew McCalla. Fun Fact: Each band will only be playing songs that were recorded in Memphis.
All the bands on Friday's bill are worth checking out — and for only $10 at the door, you should plan on staying the whole time, but you'll definitely want to get there early to check out opener Mark Edgar Stuart. The singer-songwriter recently released the great "Don't Blame Jesus" single as a follow up to his excellent 2015 album Trinity My Dear, and national outlets like NPR and Paste Magazine have started to realize what Memphians have known for years — the man can write a damn good folk song.
The Faux Killas play at 10 p.m. on Friday, and their recently released album Time in Between serves as a primer for the Killas' unpredictable and unruly live shows. Front man Jeremiah Jones has a voice that you won't soon forget, and his backing band is starting to hit their stride after a couple years of gigging locally. Other Friday night highlights include Devil Train, Chickasaw Mound, and DJ Andrew McCalla. Radio personalities Jon Roser, Chris Vernon, and Gary Parrish will also be inducted into the Rock for Love Hall of Fame.
Saturday, September 3rd.
The second day of Rock for Love offers up a double header, first at Loflin Yard and later at Otherlands Coffee. Loflin Yard will feature Crockett Hall, Summer Avenue, HEELS, and Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround. Not to be confused with Southern Avenue (the band that recently signed to Stax / Concord Music Group), Summer Avenue is one of the many up and coming local bands affiliated with Archer Records.
Later on at Otherlands, Me and Leah, the Dead Soldiers, and Julien Baker are set to play. Set times haven't been announced for the Otherlands show, but it has been confirmed that Baker will play early in the night. With a breakout year in 2015 that made way for festival dates this summer, Baker is far and away the brightest star on the Rock for Love 10 lineup. Given that she's played major festivals and opened up for some of the biggest bands in her genre, seeing her in an intimate setting like Otherlands should be spectacular.
Sunday, September 4th
The tenth anniversary of Rock for Love concludes on Sunday evening at the Levitt Shell. Like Saturday's shows, the set times for Sunday haven't been announced yet, but Amy LaVere, Star and Micey, and Jack Oblivian are all must-see acts. Amy LaVere has had a busy past few months, and there's really no better way to end a productive summer than with a show at the Shell. Jack Oblivian and the Sheiks also continue their reign of 2016 terror. The band took Europe by storm with newly acquired member Seth Moody, and after releasing the excellent Lone Ranger of Love album, they might just be the best rock-and-roll band in Memphis. Star and Micey have also had a busy year, and the band is a perfect choice to close out the exceptional music weekend known as Rock for Love.