Earlier this year, Chapel Hill real estate appraiser Jim Mansfield was diagnosed with cancer. Childhood pals Marc George, Frank Heath and Fred Royal rallied to Mansfield's side, organizing this benefit to support Mansfield through chemotherapy treatments. "He was always a life-of-the-party guy: great athlete, smart and played circles around me on the piano," says Heath, who owns Cat's Cradle "We're all very pleased to be able to do something to help the Mansfields out financially."
After growing up with Mansfield in Chapel Hill's Lake Forest subdivision, Wyatt Easterling moved to Nashville decades ago and eventually signed John Michael Montgomery and Tracy Lawrence, co-produced Montgomery's triple-platinum debut and co-wrote tunes for Joe Diffie and Dierks Bentley. In short, Easterling knows country music inside and out. He specializes in gently strummed ballads and fingerpicked folk tunes, the latter suggesting fellow Orange County native James Taylor with a bit more twang. Pittsboro trio Uniontown send power pop down the dirt paths traversed by roots rock. And two-thirds of that band, including Fred Royal, also play in Frank's Garage, a quartet of Triangle veterans that ably covers classic rock, country and blues, ranging from Cash to Creedence to Chuck Berry. Pittsboro rock outfit Cortete and magician Matt Wright also perform. Admission is free but donations are strongly encouraged. —Spencer Griffith