Student-organized fundraiser raises money for brain health, showcases local bands | Culture

Maintain Your Brain Battle of The Bands, a fundraiser for the Triangle Aphasia Project, raised $13,000 for aphasia support Saturday, April 15.

Held on Stafford Commons, the event showcased four different local and student bands competing for the chance to play as an opener at Lincoln Theatre, a music venue in downtown Raleigh.

The first band to perform was the student-run Bell Tower Blues Band, followed by Juniper Avenue, Christian James and the Paint Buckets and Satellite Dog. Charlotte Fullbright, the founder and main organizer of the event, spoke on the importance of brain health issues and her inspiration for the fundraiser.

“I think [live music] is a great way to bring people together,” Fullbright said. “It’s really good for our brains. It’s good for our mental health. These are some really talented bands, and I think it’s a great way to raise awareness for neurological health.”

Bell Tower Blues Band kicked off the event with its signature funk-rock sound, playing a variety of original songs and popular covers. Covers included Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk” and the Backseat Lovers’ “Kilby Girl,” a crowd favorite. 

Juniper Avenue followed with their rock-focused set. The band highlighted its performance with its signature guitar licks. The set was distinguished by its punk-rock sound that got the crowd up and moving.

Following Juniper Avenue, Christian James and the Paint Buckets played a variety of genres. Their cover of “Love Story” by Taylor Swift was a standout performance that could best be described as electric. Lead Singer Christian James said he connected personally to the event when he first saw the flier.

“I saw it was about brain health,” James said. “My girlfriend, she had a concussion, and I saw how it really interrupted her college life, and since I’m in a band, I wanted to support the cause.”

Popular student-run band Satellite Dog stood out with the significant crowd it brought to the event. Satellite Dog brought its personal flair with their Grateful Dead-influenced jam sessions and their seamless transitions. 

Katie Finan, a second-year studying human biology and friend of Fullbright, said apart from personal connections, she attended the event to support the cause. 

“I also think it’s for a really cool cause, supporting brain injuries and mental health,” Finan said. “I hope that everyone here knows that we’re here for more than just live music. This is to create awareness for brain health. My grandpa also has Alzheimer’s, and it’s a hard thing to see. Although a lot of people experience it, it’s not really talked about that much. This event gives people a community to talk about these issues.”

All four bands had standout performances and received great feedback from the crowd and judges. The battle for the opening Lincoln Theatre act came down to the crowd vote in order to break the judges tie. The bands took their places onstage as the members and crowd alike anxiously awaited the decision. 

“And the winner of this year’s Maintain Your Brain Battle of the Bands is — Bell Tower Blues!”

Follow Bell Tower Blues Band, Juniper Avenue, Christian James and Satellite Dog on Instagram for opportunities to see the bands live.

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