Band Together: Concert for a cause

Scott Sharpe/ The News & Observer

When pop-rock-classical musician and North Carolina native Ben Folds takes the stage at Red Hat Amphitheater May 6, he’ll headline “a celebration of everything that’s great about Raleigh,” says Matt Strickland. Strickland is the executive director of Band Together, the nonprofit that puts on this annual fundraising concert by the same name. The music will be stellar, and the cause even better: This year, Band Together has partnered with the YMCA to raise “awareness and dollars” – about $1 million – for the Southeast Raleigh YMCA capital project, a $15 million undertaking that will include an elementary school, a Y branch, and a health care facility, among other resources. “It’s a pretty substantial capital project,” Strickland says, and the concert is a celebration of that: “the exclamation point on the end of a year-long partnership.”

Year-long community partnerships are at the heart of Band Together, which has become the largest annual charitable music event in the Southeast. Every year, nonprofits apply for the Band Together partnership, which kickstarts months of fundraising through community support and corporate and individual donations. “We walk hand in hand with them to generate fundraising and support,” Strickland says. “But it all comes together in the spring” when as many as 500 volunteers put on the main stage concert.

When it all comes together, it’s a whole lot of fun. Besides Folds, “who puts on an incredible piano stage performance,” supporting acts this year are The London Souls, a classic-rock-inspired indie rock band, and Asheville-based Travers Brothership, which won the organization’s annual “last band standing” competition at Lincoln Theatre in February.

The bulk of Band Together’s fundraising will be done by the May 6 show, which means the evening can focus on the other half of the Band Together equation: awareness. “Having 4 – 5,000 people at Red Hat generates a lot of buzz about what The Y is doing,” Strickland says. “This is where potential volunteers come from and even potential board members. It’s the way for us to connect the community back to the cause.” Rock on. –J.A.

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