The Knoxville music scene has become a family of sorts and will come together tonight at WUTK's benefit concert, Power the Tower.
Local rock bands O Youth, Gamenight, Madre and Johnny Astro and The Big Bang will perform at the Pilot Light to raise funds for WUTK to purchase an improved transmitting tower.
The current tower, which has been worn by weather damage over time, rests atop Andy Holt Tower and reaches up to a 30-mile radius. WUTK needs about $5,000 more to afford to raise the power of a new tower and increase coverage area, according to Benny Smith, general manager of WUTK.
When local bands caught wind of this issue, they were eager to help. Paul Wakefield, guitarist and lead vocalist of Johnny Astro and The Big Bang, had the idea for a benefit concert from the beginning.
"I just saw that (WUTK needed money) and I was like, 'Oh man, we gotta help them somehow. That's a lot of money and even if we can't get it quick, we gotta help them,'" Wakefield said.
Wakefield then talked to members of JABB, as well as other bands, and said the response was great. Fellow band member Patrick Tice said this is not only a benefit for WUTK, but the entire local music scene.
"(WUTK) is like our best friend," Tice, a senior in public relations and guitarist for JABB, said. "They're the only way bands like us will get played in Knoxville with any kind of regularity at all."
Andrew Sayne, guitarist for Madre, said the difference between WUTK and corporate radio stations lies in its willingness to play something other than mainstream music.
"The difference between The X and WUTK is WUTK will play anything they like," Sayne said. "I remember back in the day when Madre was first getting started giving them EPs and begging them to play it and they would play it. No other radio station in the world would do that.
"They're not just playing what they're getting paid to play."
Both Sayne and Tice said this is an issue that's not clearly explained around campus.
"I don't know the ins and outs of how you run a college, but to me it seems like they're a part of the school," Sayne said. "They're providing a service and teaching their students in the process. I mean you would pay an English teacher to get the books that they need. Why wouldn't you pay for the radio station to be able to transmit?"
Sayne said another importance of WUTK is the history it holds. WUTK has been on the air for more than 30 years and was the first Knoxville station to play bands such as U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"Think about how long that station has been on," Sayne said. "There are bands that have come out of Knoxville, like Superdrag for instance. Maybe they got played the first time on WUTK."
WUTK is self-titled "Local Music's Best Friend," according to Smith. He said the station feels as though the title has been earned.
"We really feel like these bands are part of our WUTK family," Smith said. "We are all in this together to make it a win-win for all involved. We feel that the local scene in Knoxville is as strong as ever, and we would put it up against any in the country.
"It is a great relationship that has resulted in lots of success for our scene over the last 31 years."
All profit earned at the door tonight will go directly to WUTK. JABB and Madre will also donate all profit made from merchandise sales. Tice said there will also be giveaways throughout the night. He hopes this will motivate more bands to raise money.
"We hope that other bands jump on this train," Tice said. "If it is a success, since it has been brought to a lot of people's attention just how severely WUTK needs love from other people, I would love to see this happen again."
Power the Tower has made it clear that WUTK is appreciated by Knoxville bands and will not be overlooked.
"These bands and musicians know that they can depend upon us to help get the word out about their music," Smith said. "And we can depend upon them for their support when we need it."
Power the Tower begins at 10 p.m. at The Pilot Light. The cover charge is $5.