Music & Nightlife

9 bands head festival to support East Meck

Rock the Ed will feature many bands whose members who graduated from Charlotte high schools. Among the groups is Ancient Cities.
Rock the Ed will feature many bands whose members who graduated from Charlotte high schools. Among the groups is Ancient Cities. Danien Coston

Springtime means multi-band music festivals galore, but Saturday’s nine-band bill at Amos’ Southend has a greater agenda in mind than rocking out. Proceeds from the Rock the Ed festival will go toward programs and initiatives at East Mecklenburg High School.

An organization to supplement funding for school programs and for creating new ones to attract and assist teachers was uncommon a decade ago. But it’s become more so as schools grow more competitive and educators lose support at the state level. The East Mecklenburg High School Foundation holds annual golf tournaments and bi-annual luncheons to support programs and fundraising efforts at the school.

“As public education had to become more competitive, schools like East, Myers Park and Olympic have foundations that support programs such as the School of Culinary Arts, the Academy of Engineering, special-needs programs and departmental needs that the respective heads apply for,” explains foundation chairman Ken Gray.

Rock the Ed will feature many musicians who graduated from Charlotte high schools like Myers Park and South Meck. Saturday’s acts include Junior Astronomers, Bombadil, Ancient Cities, Serfs, Sinners and Saints, Bless These Sounds Under the City, Cameron Floyd and the Business People.

Mecklenburg County teachers will be admitted free to the show.

The foundation called on Cameron Lee and his organization CLTure (a Charlotte-based arts and culture blog that also does marketing and throws its own events) to curate the lineup and publicize the show. Lee suggested tapping some of the city’s most popular groups, opening the event to the community, and incorporating food trucks, vendors and games.

The foundation had already booked Amos’ Southend, and Lee used the location as inspiration for the show.

“(To me) the pinnacle of Amos’ is Rock the Vote,” Lee explains of the 2008 election-anchored show headlined by the Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow and Santigold. “That was one of my best memories for a concert in Charlotte. There was so much excitement brewing.”

He also thinks it’s a good time to refocus on South End.

“The timing couldn’t be better, with Tremont (closing) and all that’s going on in NoDa,” Lee explains. “Amos’ needs to be a good spot (for live music). There are restaurants there. It’s on the light rail line. It’s walkable.”

Gray says Rock the Ed intends to reconnect alumni, their children, parents and friends from other schools.

“The lifetime friendships that grow into supporting our high school and college alma maters keep us young. We, generally, have an emotional tie that causes us to help teachers’ and student programs,” he says.

Phil Pucci of the band Serfs, which plays Saturday, says he’d like to see a similar effort at his former high school, South Meck: “None of us went to East Meck, but it would be really neat to play a benefit for the high school I went to.”

Rock the Ed

When: 4 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St.

Tickets: $15-$18; Char-Meck teachers free with school ID.

Details: 704-377-6874;