The Stand Against HB2 benefit concert series for EqualityNC, which has made monthly stops in N.C. cities such as Asheville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem, makes its way to Charlotte Saturday. Nineteen artists will play between noon and midnight at Neighborhood Theatre.
“I thought at the time (of the first show) it would be a one-off concert,” says Mike Allen, who has organized the concerts using acts local to each city and a core group of musicians including Rod Abernethy, who first pitched the idea to him, and NC Music Love Army founders Caitlin Cary (Whiskytown, Tres Chicas) and Jon Lindsay.
That first show at the Haw River Ballroom, not far from Chapel Hill, sold out its 800 tickets in six days and boasted 26 artists – a lineup which came together in four days.
“After that, these musicians kept calling and saying we should take this across the state,” says Allen.
The concert series ends two days before the presidential election, with a show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.
Allen, a senior writer at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, previously organized concerts to benefit the Coalition for Unchained Dogs, which builds fences for dog owners.
The anti-HB2 event not only features artists like Lindsay (who plays all six shows), Abernethy, Rapper Shane, the Loudermilks, Dust & Ashes, Alternative Champs and the Business People, but also political speakers, poets and transgender activists who also take the stage.
For Lindsay, House Bill 2 is just one of many issues facing North Carolina. The NC Love Army has been frequently present at Moral Mondays in Raleigh. But his set Saturday won’t focus on protest songs like the ones that appear on his new EP, “Happy Old Pictures” (out in October).
Instead he’ll focus on pop-rock material from his latest album, “Cities and Schools.”
“It’s a one-issue benefit,” Lindsay explains. “No one needs to be won over or convinced. I would be preaching to the choir if I was playing Love Army songs. Everybody that comes to these shows is already on board.”
Speakers include several N.C. House and Senate candidates; Dr. Laura Levin, the Concord pediatrician who went public with her own transition in 2015; poet Lee Ann Brown; and Erica Starling of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Allen’s also invited state Sen. Jeff Jackson and Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
“I admire Jennifer for sticking to her guns. The ordinance that you guys passed is not the problem. HB2 is the problem,” says Allen, who lives in Durham. “It’s political posturing at this point. It’s extortion.
“(The concerts) are not so much about the money, although all net proceeds go to EqualityNC – it’s about bringing the community together and letting musicians have a platform to fight this thing and be heard.”
Stand Against HB2 concert
WHEN: 12 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.