Preview: Gaining inspiration from a few ‘Outlaws’ this Friday at the Neighborhood Theatre

By Kelli Raulerson

April 28, 2015

Local musician hosts tribute show to support Levine Children’s Hospital

You’ve got to care about the music…You’d better not be doing it for the publicity, the fame or the money. And you’d sure better not be doing it because it’s a way to make a living, ’cause that ain’t always going to be easy. You got to believe it, believe in the music. You got to mean it.” – Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings’ 1984 taping at TPAC via

Music and community are two inseparable things. Throughout history, music has been a vehicle for enacting change within society through the eagerness of artists to play a substantial role in not only our community’s development, but also more importantly, its sustainment.

In the 1960s—fed up with the state of Nashville’s recording industry—artists Tompall Glaser and Bobby Bare set up the “Outlaw Headquarters” just off Nashville’s music row. The headquarters, which included a full independent recording studio, soon became a refuge for other disgruntled, notable artists like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. As more artists flocked to the headquarters, a community was created – a community of collaboration that drove a social movement.

At a time when country music was on a rapid decline toward a mechanical, sedentary genre, artists who refused to accept the status quo in favor of going their own way helped define the outlaw movement. With the addition of Jessi Coulter, the Outlaws released a compilation album that became the first certified platinum country music album ever released. The success of these artists restored the raw authenticity and life force to country music as well as to their community.

Fast forward 55 years and the same outlaw spirit that refused to forsake authenticity for commerce is still alive and well. It’s present in communities that foster and support artists and musicians – recognizing the important value the arts and local business bring to communities.

By CommonMime Photography / Urban & Rural / City Life

As the NoDa neighborhood faces a transition that has the potential to push the artist community out in favor of those with deeper pockets, there’s resurgence of resistance amongst its artists and their supporters. There’s a recognition that business doesn’t have to define community – as long as people are still willing to be the ones to define it.

Looking every bit the part, local musician and philanthropist Justin Fedor personifies outlaw country. Wearing all denim, boots, with hair a bit long and beard firmly in place, he understands the role music and art play in sustaining communities. This Friday, he’ll host his fifth tribute show over the past two years all benefiting the Levine Children’s Hospital. Over the course of those events, Justin along with a host of local musicians giving their time and talents have managed to raise over $10,000 – simply by doing what they love and trusting in the power of music to encourage action.

Justin Fedor – Ancient Cities – LASR Recorded Live: 10/2/2014 – Aloft Charlotte, NC – Charlotte, NC.

So it seems fitting that for his fifth tribute show benefitting Levine’s Children Hospital, Justin chose to honor the artists that defined Outlaw Country in a community at similar crossroads.

This week’s show will feature artists that defined Outlaw Country including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and more. Local artists covering the Outlaw catalogue include Amigo, Jim Avett, Chris Cook, John Dungan, Evergone, Funky Geezer, Heywire, Kodiak Brotherhood, (members of) The New Familiars, Ross Adams, The Sammies, Sherman Hellville, and Stress Test.

Together, these musicians will share the stage to showcase what it means to be part of a community – collaborating to benefit something bigger than us. Events like these tribute shows and others such as Zanebash, NoDa F.A.M. Rally, ReverbFest,  – these are events that define our community. It’s a community long committed to using its time and talents to give back in service of one another. It’s a simple concept, but one that often gets brushed aside when other more popular (or better funded) priorities take precedence.


As we work to understand how growth and development will impact our community, it’s critical that we maintain a strong sense of what we want that to be, even as our physical environment changes. Just as the Outlaws wouldn’t allow business and commerce to define their community, artists like Justin—through collaborative events like Friday’s—will ensure the music, art and, most importantly, the people, define NoDa.

So whichever side of the argument you favor, a simple truth remains – a community of artists and their supporters giving back will sustain far longer than one without – regardless of how many condos are built.

If you’re searching for a glimpse of community where you feel it’s lost, or if you’re new to NoDa and want to learn more about the neighborhood, you need to swing by the Neighborhood Theatre around 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Both the stage and the audience will be an eclectic mix of community-focused individuals leaning on their collective power to affect the change they wish to see. The same way it’s been for years.

Event details: Friday, May 1

Neighborhood Theatre 8:30 p.m.

$10 donation will benefit the Levine Children’s Hospital

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