Light Up 1976

Annual sell-out concert Shine A Light is back on Feb. 20 to raise funds for community outreach programs

The same year Steve Jobs created Apple Computer and the United States celebrated its 200th birthday, the international music scene was awash in punk rock, disco and early glimmers of new wave.

The year was 1976, and 50 local musicians are banding together to commemorate it with Shine A Light 2016—A Tribute to 1976 at Wilmington’s World Cafe Live at The Queen on Saturday, Feb. 20.

The performance will be the fifth consecutive sell-out show that has become a lucrative fundraiser for Light Up the Queen Foundation, which focuses on keeping the venue revived, and for community and arts outreaches. The annual show is considered one of the biggest and best concerts in Wilmington.

Each song in this year’s show will feature a different lineup of the area’s most talented, influential and prominent musicians, representing multiple generations of Wilmington’s music scene.

For the first three years, the event focused on Rolling Stones covers, but at last year’s event organizers switched to a 1975 theme. It was embraced by fans, says event co-founder Rob Grant. Now the concert will roll on to the next great year in music.
“I’m optimistic that we will continue to put the biggest crowds ever into the World Cafe Live and that the energy will continue to ramp up,” says Grant.

Laura Moss performed “ Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop last year. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)
Laura Moss performed “
Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop last year. (Photo by Joe del Tufo)

The ’70s focus stems from the decade being “a crazy time” in the music world, according to Grant. Sounds from the ‘60s had evolved with full force, while punk and disco were just starting to gain traction. The diversity is perfect for a concert of such large proportions—musicians can jump from Zeppelin to Abba to Freddie Fender in a single segment, Grant says.

Shine A Light originated from an idea from Grant and his friend, Chip Porter, the event co-founder and guitarist/vocalist in area band Montana Wildaxe. With one smash annual event under their belts—Jam on the Brandywine since 2007—Porter had the idea for a winter show, and after a few meetings that included others area musicians, Shine A Light was born.

As far as a 1977 theme for next year, Grant isn’t making a commitment yet. “We need to get through this year first, then we will figure out what, if anything, is next,” he says.

The fun evening’s fundraising aspect is a huge component, helping not only to defray Light Up The Queen’s operating expenses and also funding arts enrichment programs offered at no cost to schools located primarily in Wilmington’s underserved communities. The event has raised $233,800 since its founding in 2012. Last year’s concert brought in approximately $75,800, and LUQ Executive Director Tina Betz hopes for $85,000 this year.

“Shine A Light has allowed Light Up the Queen to vigorously pursue an important aspect of its mission: engaging the community, with a focus on underserved young people, in music and arts education programming,” says Betz.

The fundraiser has been a significant contributor to LUQ’s growth and is the only annual fundraiser for the organization, Betz says. The consistently sold out event, with about 1,000 attendees a year, also gives LUQ the opportunity to “shine a light” on the nonprofit’s accomplishments and enduring community support. And for that, Betz is grateful.

“In addition to the dollars raised to support Light Up The Queen’s operations and programs, hundreds of hours are donated by some of this area’s extremely talented musicians, graphic designers, production personnel, social media professionals, small businesses, professional event coordinators and many others,” Betz says. “The commitment of these volunteers is what keeps Shine A Light and Light Up The Queen going and growing.”

Doors open at 7 p.m., the show starts promptly at 8:00, and tickets start at $60. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly.