This month we feature USTORM.org, the website of USTORM, a charitable organization founded by musicians but supported by fans, whose participation is needed to make it all work. Here is a bit on USTORM and its upcoming birthday event…
The USTORM Foundation is based in Chicago, IL, and was started by Brendan Bayliss (Umphrey’s McGee) and 3 of his close friends: Kevin Kostelecky (owner of Chicago watering hole "The Store"), Mike LeMaistre (promoter for Jam Productions), and Barry Brown (member of Chicago-based band Jack Straw). This group of friends realized that through their various ways and means, they could produce some positive, fun and exciting events that could raise money to be put towards different worthwhile causes. The group met "officially" for the first time in January of 2006 and decided that they would do what it took to get their official non-profit status from the state of Illinois before they held any official events. While this process can take up to a year or more at times, with the help of an attorney/friend, they acquired their official "non-profit" status at the end of March 2006. The USTORM Foundation held their first event (The Kick-Off Party) at The Store in May. Since then, they’ve held a number of fun and music filled events, including the sold out BRAIN DAMAGED EGGMEN show (featuring Brendan, Jake and Kris from Umphrey’s, and Marc and Aron from Bisco) at The Vic Theater in Chicago in August, and the late-night Umphrey’s after party show on December 29th featuring Chicago bluegrass band CORNMEAL.
Through their fund raising efforts, USTORM has been able to support a number of Chicago based non-profits. These are groups that fulfill what USTORM wishes to accomplish, as stated in their mission statement: to provide funding for music and art education programs for children and young adults that may not otherwise have the access to such programs. To this date, USTORM has made donations to Keys for Kids, The Merit School of Music, Rock for Kids, and The Chicago Off the Street Club. The group looks forward to supporting other worthy causes in the upcoming months and years.
USTORM now looks ahead towards their 1st Birthday Party and Concert on March 31st. A very impressive line-up of friends and supporters have committed to donating their time and talents to assure a great night of acoustic and electric music for those lucky few in attendance. Among those scheduled to appear: Brendan Bayliss, Al Schnier (moe.), Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band), Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits), Jennifer Hartswick (The Trey Anastasio Band), Ron Johnson (KDTU, New Monsoon), Josh Quinlan (Ray’s Music Exchange), plus various members of Umphrey’s McGee and other special guests.
For more information about The USTORM Foundation, please visit www.USTORM.org