Flatiron brings a weekend of music in support of Autism Society

by Ryan Snyder

One of the finest dives in downtown Greensboro is joining forces with a desperately underfunded, though vital nonprofit for a full weekend of music starting Friday night. The Flatiron will play host to Progressive Pieces: A Benefit for Autism, an event that will feature 13 bands over three days in an effort to raise money for the Autism Society of North Carolina.

The event is coordinated by Community Support Instructor Gregory Sarine and Flatiron bartender Justin Krick with the support of the bar’s owner Mike Mullins. Krick went to Sarine with the idea to throw a fundraiser for the charity, which gets very little federal and state money and depends on fundraising and donations for almost half of its budget. Sarine said that administrators from the Autism Society are all for the event and Mullins even pledged 10 percent of the evening’s sales towards the donation fund.

Krick handled the booking of the performers, while Sarine sought out sponsorships from several local businesses that donated dozens of raffle items, which will be given away all throughout the weekend. Some of those include a Johnson acoustic guitar from the Music Barn; gift certificates from Smith Street Diner, Simple Kneads and Cheesecake’s by Alex; hour-long massages by a professional who’s also a Flatiron regular; and tickets to the Triad Stage. Others provided monetary and logistical support, such as promotional banners that were printed by Sierra Nevada Brewing.

“We wanted to keep it all local and as close knit as possible because it’s a totally grassroots thing,” Krick said in reference to the sponsor list. “We’re not trying to be huge or ridiculous about the event. We just want people to come out and have a good time and donate some money for a good cause.”

Of the 13 bands on the bill, almost all are local acts that are frequent Flatiron performers. Krick said that he didn’t necessarily look to book the biggest draws, moreso the bands that had the most loyal followings among the bar’s regulars. While there isn’t necessarily a solid theme as to the genres that will be featured each night, there is a noticeable lean in a certain direction. Friday is heavily slanted toward progressive rock with the Grand Ultimatum, Nyos and new addition

Cytokine Storm, a band that recently replaced Irata who recently canceled in order to play a show in Raleigh. The Sunday lineup is the deepest of the weekend, with five bands performing starting at 2 p.m. and includes a mix of folk, soul and Americana with Kristin Leigh, Our Horse Jethro and Come Hell or High Water.

The Saturday night lineup may be the most anticipated, however, with one name in particular jumping off of the event flyer. Avett Brothers patriarch Jim Avett will perform a set early in the evening before joining Molly McGinn’s new band Amelia’s Mechanics as a guest afterwards. Rumors persist among online social networking forums that Avett will be bringing along “special guests” as a part of his set, though no specific names have been mentioned. The Avett Brothers are not booked for any performances this weekend, according to their official tour itinerary. Citified will close the evening out.

Proceeds from the evening go straight to the Autism Society of NC and from there will be dispersed to the smaller offices based on need. Sarine said that the local office is anticipating a move to a new and less dilapidated office in the near future and hoes that the money generated from the event will help spur the move. He added that there are 20 adults at the Greensboro office at any given time during the day, and the current facilities are inadequate to support that number. He also believes that there’s a chance the money will go to the charity’s day-to-day operations, such as paying wages, also in desperate need. On the organization’s lack of funding, Sarine believes that it stems from a fundamental lack of understanding.

“Autism is overlooked a lot and people just don’t understand it. It’s not as cut and dry as going to the doctor and getting a round of drugs to cure it,” he stated. “We hope that this event will help people understand how much support is needed. Either way, it’s going to be a great weekend.”

wanna go? The Flatiron 221 Summit Avenue Greensboro, NC 27401

(336) 272-7774

Jim Avett and Molly McGinn, seen here at the Blind Tiger, will both perform in support of the Flatiron’s Autism benefit