Flashlight Shows: Illuminating independent artists, local charities

Flashlight Shows is a nonprofit music series whose aim is to “shine a light on” up-and-coming indie bands, to highlight various local charities and to help further the perception of Chattanooga as a sustainable concert destination. Along with the touring acts being brought in, local visual artists and bands will be invited to perform and display their work; comedians, dancers and other artists will also take to the stage.

Flashlight Shows is a nonprofit music series whose aim is to “shine a light on” up-and-coming indie bands. (Photo: James Lee, Flickr)

Working from a “passion before profit” attitude, a portion of the proceeds raised from each show will go to a specific local charity, and it’s here at the intersection of social awareness and live music that Flashlight Shows seeks to highlight how community and music can come together to create a platform for significant positive change.

If you are a local artist or performer, or would like to submit your nonprofit organization as a potential beneficiary of a Flashlight Show, please contact heyflashlightshows@gmail.com or message them on Facebook.

I recently had the chance to put a few questions to co-founders Charity Painter and Jessica Bartet.

What was the motivating factor behind the creation of Flashlight Shows?

Painter: This is an idea I’ve had brewing for years now. It’s the combination of two things that I think are important: indie music and social causes.

Bartet: If Charity’s aspiration was solely to book bands, I wouldn’t be interested. The majority of the Chattanooga population won’t come out to see bands they don’t know. The concept of exposing the city we love to bands we love to benefit causes we love that help people live better lives really sounds like the best idea ever … so here I am.

What’s the process for choosing which charity to work with on any given show?

Bartet: So far, we have three shows booked, with two confirmed charities. They both happen to be art-/children-related, but we want to tap into the broader scope of community needs. I interviewed to teach for Story Creators last year and fell in love with their mission and the books created by the kids. Art 120 just organically fell into place for April because they will be running a Causeway campaign, and our show is just a week or so before the art car parade in May.

How vital is it that an arts community incorporate a sense of social awareness?

Painter: I don’t think it’s necessarily “vital,” because I think the arts inspire and inform already on their own, implicitly. Flashlight Shows is just about pushing the goodness a little further. Music has been such a vital, driving force in my life, and this is my attempt at paying it forward.

Bartet: The arts save lives. The therapeutic value of expressing oneself through pen to paper, paint to canvas, thoughts to melodies, bellowing lyrics when no one’s around, dancing, the methodical calming of weaving thread through a loom … it’s an infinite list, really. These forms of creation give humans an outlet to dispose of the hard, weird, disparaging parts of life that can be otherwise overwhelming and tragic. We hope to encourage people to explore the potential of the arts community in Chattanooga to promote good when people are willing to step outside the inherently selfish state of mind and use their creativity in a positive way.

How you do choose which bands to approach for each concert?

Painter: Bands that I love who I want Chattanooga to experience. A lot of the bands I’m trying to book now are bands that I’ve been able to interact with who are genuinely good people working really hard on their craft, independently, not necessarily because they’re making big bucks, but because they’re passionate. Those are the bands who I’m interested in booking first—bands that put on a really killer, fun live show and deserve to be heard everywhere.

Bartet: That’s Charity’s forte. She amazes me with her ceaseless researching and recommending of new music. We want to host musicians that are down for our cause, but also bring a bit of flavor to Chattanooga that we may not have seen here before.

Are there any wish list artists you’d like to have participate in an upcoming Flashlight Show?

Painter: Yes! It’s a running list. Some of these we may or may not be in talks with—wink, wink. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is my favorite artist right now, and I’m definitely working on bringing her here. Pearl and the Beard. I want to get Lucius back. Sharon Van Etten. Angel Olsen. PHOX. Perfume Genius. Courtney Barnett. San Fermin—their live show is ridiculous! Sylvan Esso. Landlady. Torres. Kishi Bashi. SO many! If we’re talking “DREAM wish list,” though, it’d be tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, Warpaint, TV on the Radio, Bon Iver, and Iron and Wine. Sam Beam is my indie dad. Another one is HAIM—so obsessed with them for a while now.

credit: nooga.com

Bartet: My actual dream list is probably unreasonable for the Flashlight Shows vibe. If we’re talking live music, I like gritty rock ‘n’ roll—the kind that’s most likely not going to attract people looking to buy art or support after-school programs.

Was it difficult to get people excited about this project?

Painter: Actually, no. Everyone we’ve spoken to during the last six or so months has been really supportive of the project, which has been really reassuring. We’re excited to get the events going so we can show everyone why we’ve been so amped about doing this, raise some money for some cool organizations [and] also so we can dance.

Bartet: Not at all! I have a firm belief that if you have to force something to happen, it’s not meant to be. This project so far has flowed along quite smoothly. Creating something that involves public exposure is both terrifying and electrifying. There are so many small pieces to put in place, and we are working hard to collect them all to bring to the beautiful people of Chattanooga. We are infinitely grateful for the support!

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