Live Music and Charity

For many of the touring bands that we cover here at Live Music Blog, the fan base is more of a community of people rather than a collection of individuals simply having an interest in common. It was extremely evident this weekend when we posted a commemoration of Phish’s Island Tour. Communities celebrate together; they also lend hands to those in or outside of the group in charitable ways.

Live music has long been a vessel of awareness, charity and protest. We want to open a conversation focusing on the charitable side of the live music medium and how numerous bands today are following in the footsteps of history in their charitable work. Realizing that they are fortunate to be doing what they love, helping those who are less fortunate is a natural reaction to many group’s success. Though large festivals have had a great amount of success and are likely the roots of charity through live music, we thought we’d highlight a couple of bands and organizations that are working within their own community of fans to help the greater one. We are only starting the conversation; we hope you will help us continue it. The topic is very large and the bands and organizations mentioned here are not the only ones; they’re just ones that are on our radar right now.

Conscious Alliance is one of the most visible organizations in the live music scene today. Conscious Alliance teams up with a wide variety of acts raging from Jack Johnson to The Disco Biscuits and many of the summer music festivals. The organization seeks to collect money and food to distribute to food pantries and communities throughout the US.

If you’ve ever dropped off some canned goods (that never can seem to disappear from your pantry) at a concert and received a free concert poster, you have most likely made a donation to Conscious Alliance. Started in 2002, Conscious Alliance has donated over 500,000 pounds of food to those in need. They will be at a number of festivals and on tour with the STS9/Umphrey’s dual bill this summer. Take a visit to the website and see what events are coming up in your area where Conscious Alliance will be working.

One more recently created not-for-profit is Head Count, an organization that is co-chaired by Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits and Andy Bernstein of The Pharmer’s Almanac fame. Truly a function of the larger jamband community, Head Count works to register voters and push political awareness among the thousands of fans that make up our community. So far, Head Count has registered over 60,000 voters and helped ebb the growing number of uniformed or nonexistent voters in the US.

Not only are there great organizations in our community, but there are also a number of bands that do work teaming up with non-profits and also on their own. Two of these that come to mind happen to be touring together this summer: STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee.

STS9 has always been involved in charity work, continually teaming up with Conscious Alliance on tours and running a quasi-grassroots organization themselves through 1320 Records. Recently, the band was featured on CNN in connection to a larger piece on musical charity. The interview featured the band using its stage as a medium to help others. STS9 features fourteen charities on their website and are a great example of a band pushing boundaries not only on the stage but elsewhere.

The Chicago based Umphrey’s McGee is of note for their charity work for a number of reasons as well. Known to play a benefit concert or two, the band is set to play the Egyptian Theater in Dekalb, IL tonight to help support the NIU Memorial Scholarship Fund. The concert will honor those who were injured or lost their lives in the NIU shooting by helping others attend Northern Illinois University. It is this type of awareness and activism that make us here at LMB proud we are a part of the live music world.

These are just a few pieces of the larger picture of good works done by those in our community. Help us spread information and the commitment to each other by dropping a comment on a benefit concert in your area, a band that is doing its part, or your thoughts on being a part of it all.