A benefit concert series for the nonprofit Church Health Center, Rock for Love has gotten steadily bigger every year. Rock for Love 4, which kicks off Thursday, August 19th, at the Hi-Tone Café, will include 17 local music acts spread across four shows in three days.
"We didn't plan it this way at the outset, but we've ended up adding one additional show each year," says Marvin Stockwell, the public relations manager at the Church Health Center and a member of the punk band Pezz. "The first Rock for Love was only one night. The second one was two nights. The third one, we added the day party. We may have to add a Sunday comedown show for Rock for Love 5."
Stockwell organizes Rock for Love along with co-worker Jeff Hulett and sometime Church Health Center patient (and frequent Flyer contributor) J.D. Reager, both of whom are also prolific local musicians, and for this year's edition, they started early.
"We really wanted to go after Lucero and Amy LaVere, and we knew we'd have to go after them early because of their touring schedules," Hulett says.
"The best thing that happened was that [Lucero guitarist] Brian [Venable] put me directly in touch with their manager. We were going to offer them something, because we know they don't play many local shows anymore and they depend on this for their livelihood. But their manager called us back and said, 'Lucero is in for Saturday night and they want to do it for free and they want to charge $15.' They wanted to raise as much money as possible."
The band had a particularly good reason to want to support the Church Health Center. Earlier this year, while waiting to play a show in Augusta, Georgia, Lucero drummer Roy Berry was sucker-punched by a passing teenager, suffering a broken jaw that he had diagnosed at the Church Health Center, who set him up with University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Dentistry.
"Having recovered, it's nice to be able to play the Rock for Love benefit and be able give something back to help the service continue for other folks who need it," Berry says.
"You hate to have what happened to Roy happen," Stockwell says. "But it illustrates the point very well. Even musicians as successful as Lucero often don't have health insurance. J.D. has been on the center's Memphis Plan. Amy LaVere was on the Memphis Plan for years. It's great to see local musicians come together to give to an organization that has had their back for so many years."
This year's lineup is the biggest and most diverse ever, ranging from established local stalwarts like Lucero and LaVere to up-and-coming rappers such as Skewby and Teflon Don to exciting newer bands such as Star & Micey, Magic Kids, and the Dirty Streets.
"If a person wanted to get the lowdown on what's going on in local music, this would be a pretty darn good place to start," Stockwell says.
In addition to the surge in participation, Stockwell happily reports that the benefit has already generated a surge in donations. After raising a total of $23,500 at last year's Rock for Love, Stockwell says they've already exceeded that figure this year before a single note has been played. For this, Stockwell thanks "monetary sponsorships" from local businesses and organizations such as Elvis Presley Enterprises, SunTrust, and Methodist-LeBonheur.
Additional funds will come not only from the cover charges at the shows but from a percentage of bar and merchandise sales being donated by the Hi-Tone Café and Shangri-La Records and from an online auction that runs through August 21st.
"The truth of the matter is that, with the recession, more people are losing benefits and more people are coming to us. At the same time, our donations are down," Stockwell says. "[Health-care reform] is doing some things right away, but the major provisions that deal with covering more people don't begin to really take effect until 2014."
"Even if everything goes as planned, there will still be 23 million Americans uninsured by 2019," he continues. "That's better than 49 million, but there will still be a big need. Our work is going to be here. We need to raise as much money as possible. We can use every nickel we can get our hand on."
Rock for Love 4
Thursday, August 19th, The Hi-Tone Café
$5, 9 p.m. (18 and over)
The Candy Company, Teflon Don, Holly Cole & the Memphis Dawls, Blair Combest, Star & Micey (headliner), Blair Combest (emcee)
Friday, August 20th, The Hi-Tone Café
$10, 9 p.m. (18 and over)
Glorie (opener), Skewby, Magic Kids, the Dirty Streets (headliner), Ross Johnson (emcee)
Saturday, August 21st, Shangri-La Records
Free, noon to 5 p.m. (all ages)
Chinese Lanterns, the Burning Sands, the Near Reaches, Oracle & the Mountain, Amy LaVere
Saturday, August 21st, The Hi-Tone Café
$15, 9 p.m. (18 and over)
Jeremy Stanfill, the Bulletproof Vests, Lucero, Al Bell (emcee)