Concert for a Cause, a benefit music festival founded by local music lover Eric Grider, is back. After taking a year off, Grider regrouped and put together his sixth concert, taking place July 25 at Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., to raise money for two local organizations, the Meadowlark House and Art Without Boundaries. “This year I felt like I needed to do (Concert for a Cause) because these charities could definitely use some help, and I enjoy putting it together,” Grider said. Grider, who runs the marketing and events company Cause a Scene Media, formed Concert for a Cause at age 14, shortly after his grandfather, Gary Kallem, died of cancer. The first Concert for a Cause, held in the summer of 2003, raised nearly $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. “I wanted to show people that young kids could create an event to help the community and that we aren’t just ‘careless’ kids,” Grider said. “I also want to help others like my grandfather did.” This year’s event has a $5 cover and will feature bands from Montana, South Dakota and Colorado. The Photo Atlas, of Denver, Colo., headlines the concert, with Billings native Nick Miles on drums. The event also includes performances by local bands From Womb to Tomb, Noise Noise Noise, Grudge, Montana Law, and Down Time. Missoula bands Fiancée and Places will perform, as well as The Reddmen from Rapid City, S.D. Local comedian Chad Korb will emcee the event. Proceeds from the door after expenses for this year’s concert will go to the Northern Rockies Radiation Oncology Center’s Meadowlark House, a free cancer patient lodging facility located in west Billings, and Art Without Boundaries, a charity that helps kindergarten through college age students obtain and learn how to play instruments. Each organization will have a booth at the event with information available, and additional donations will be accepted at the booths. Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. will be selling pints of beer and Doc and Eddy’s will have a full bar set up, and $1 for every pint of beer sold and 10 percent of liquor sales will be donated to the cause. Besides the headlining act, bands are donating their time and are not receiving compensation for performing.
A rocky road
During the first couple of years of Concert for a Cause, Grider said he kept expenses low, but for subsequent concerts decided to “spend money to make money.” That philosophy didn’t end up working out, and the events didn’t raise as much money for charity as Grider had hoped, so this year he cut back expenses drastically, getting everything from posters to advertisements donated. Grider used his personal money for fliers, bands are donating their time to perform, and Yellowstone Valley is donating the facility for the event. “I’m pretty happy that I’ve taken it back to the basics and made it really simple,” Grider said. “I want people to know about these charities because they are really cool ideas. With our expenses so low this year, I hope to give a nice chunk of change to these charities and have a good time.” In the past, tickets have cost upwards of $10, but Grider is hoping to entice more attendees by lowering the price. “The lineup is certainly worth $5; it’s actually worth $10 and the fact that it’s a benefit,” Grider said. Attendance at the concerts in the past has been relatively small. From ticket proceeds and private donations at the previous five Concerts for a Cause, Grider estimates he’s raised $10,000 (after expenses) for charities and private cancer patients. Initially, the money was given to organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the Northern Rockies Radiation Oncology Center, but after the second year, Grider and his family formed The G.K. Cancer Foundation — named after his grandfather — to help local Montana cancer patients with day-to-day expenses. The money was funneled through the nonprofit to cancer patients, but the foundation disbanded in 2007. “We all got really busy, and it’s time consuming to keep a 501(c)(3),” Grider said. “It’s nice to have your own charity, but it’s a pain. And it was called the G.K. Cancer Foundation, so it was silly to have it benefit something else. This way, I have flexibility in choosing two different causes, and this year we’re still helping cancer patients out with the Meadowlark House, but are adding Art Without Boundaries.” Concert for a Cause takes place Saturday, July 25, and is for all ages. Gates open at 4 p.m. in the parking lot at Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., where an outdoor stage will be set up. Music begins at 4:15 p.m. and the event is expected to last until 11 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate only and donations above the cover charge are accepted. For more information, visit concertforacause.blogspot.com.