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It's been proven repeatedly that music can be used to raise awareness about various diseases and raise money for battling them, with the Spread Your Wings benefit concert to fight breast cancer being just one local example. The inaugural Spread Your Wings event, held in June 2001, was the brainchild of Charlotte-based Americana music fans Missi Ivie and Bob Graham. The pair, well-known in the area for their kindness to road-weary musicians, had a special interest in the cause: A year earlier, Ivie had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and, among many other things, this first Spread Your Wings show celebrated her recovery.

An impressive collection of musical friends showed up at Charlotte's Neighborhood Theater to help celebrate and to donate their exceptional, roots-leaning talents. Happily, the Reflection Mobil Unit also showed up to record the festivities, culminating in this crisply recorded 12-song collection. Joining a half-dozen North Carolina artists (ranging from Chapel Hill's Richard and Linda Thompson-ish Glory Fountain to Mount Holly's restless troubadour David Childers) were Nashvillians Greg Trooper, Duane Jarvis, Kevin Gordon and Jim Lauderdale, plus two way-out-of-towners, Alejandro Escovedo and Richard Buckner. It seems a little unsavory to cite highlights from a benefit CD, but Buckner's previously unreleased "Dusty from the Talk" and Escovedo's offering of the True Believers' tune, "The Rebel Kind," resurrected with the help of a true pickup band, deserve a nod. And Jarvis' "Sad Blue Year," dedicated to his dear friend Donald Lindley (who played drums for Dave Alvin, Lucinda Williams, and Rosie Flores before losing a courageous battle with cancer), best exemplifies the gathering's spirit. The lyrics express loss, but the exuberant music--served up by a roots-rock power trio of Jarvis, bassist Danny Kurtz, and Childers' son Robert on drums--does not go quietly into the dark night. Along with raising money and raising awareness, raising the roof is also a fine idea.

All proceeds from the sales of the Spread Your Wings disc go to the American Cancer Society, and the second annual Spread Your Wings benefit is Saturday, Sept. 21. This year's lineup includes returnees Jarvis and Childers as well as Scott Miller, the Ware River Club, Stacey Earle, and The Silos. To order a copy of the disc and to get more information on the upcoming concert, contact Bob Graham at blazenboogie@aol.com.

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