Jamtronica quintet STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) are originally from Georgia, but have ties to California and Colorado as well. So when Boulder, Colorado suffered apocalyptic flooding just days after the band had wrapped their summer tour at the legendary Red Rocks Ampitheater near Denver, the band felt compelled to give something back to a region that holds one of their strongest fanbases.
2013 marked STS9’s 10-year anniversary of playing Red Rocks, during which time they’ve ascended from an opening act for the String Cheese Incident in 2003 to packing the majestic venue for a pair of headlining shows this past September 6 and 7. A foreboding sky seemed to threaten early in the day of Saturday’s tour finale, but the rain held off, enabling the band to deliver one of the summer’s best dance parties. An extended encore featured the rare fan favorite “Water Song”, a tune with a slinky groove and sound effects of thunder that turned out to be somewhat prophetic. But no one could have seen a “1,000-year flood” coming.
It was no surprise when STS9 stepped up with a fundraising effort to raise money for flood relief since they’ve long been known for altruistic efforts such as partnering with Conscious Alliance for food drives at shows, and larger projects like raising money through their fanbase to build a new home in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward in the post-Katrina aftermath. The band’s management has also been based in Denver for almost a decade.
“Colorado has been so good to us since the beginning of our career. It only felt right to support everyone when they needed us most. It really had nothing to do with the fact that we just played Red Rocks,” says band manager Crawford Byers.
The band offered special Colorado-themed merch and all live concert downloads to fans for a period of time where 100 percent of proceeds would go to disaster relief in the Boulder area. They also partnered with Conscious Alliance again to offer $10 raffle tickets for a chance to win a room at Mayan Holidaze, the band’s annual excursion to play on the beach in Mexico in the Mayan Riviera region in December.
The band posted on their Facebook page last week to announce that over $12,000 was raised:
“We know that we have the best fans in music, and once again y’all have pulled through in a big way. It’s an honor to report that with your help, we raised over $12,000.00 for Colorado Flood Relief! We’ll be splitting this donation equally between Conscious Alliance, Flatirons Habitat For Humanity and the Boulder Flood Relief this week in order to directly help those most affected by the massive flooding that’s left communities isolated across the state. Your critical support is so appreciated. We still have a limited number of STS9‘s Colorado Flood Relief die cut stickers left in stock at STS9 Store, and 100% of the proceeds from these sales will continue to go to these organizations as well. Get them here:http://bit.ly/15hYexL “
STS9 have long stood out in the live music scene scene for both their uniquely groovy instrumental sound and their spiritual vibe (leading to a fan page on Facebook titled “The Church of STS9”.) Byers says the band’s socially conscious efforts are just part of their DNA.
“We’re all part of a number of projects continuously. Some you hear more about than others, but the band has been supporting charity since the beginning,” says Byers. “ Everyone brings different ideas to the table and the band as a whole makes the decisions on who they feel they can help and make the most impact with.”
The jam rock scene has been rolling that way ever since the Grateful Dead were playing benefit shows back in their formative years. The Denver/Boulder area has long been a hotbed for the improv music scene, so a number of other bands have also contributed to a benefit album called River’s Rising Front Range Flood Relief. Spearheaded by Colorado’s own Leftover Salmon, the album features live tracks from Furthur, the String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Railroad Earth, Yonder Mountain String Band and many more. All proceeds benefit Foothills United Way.
In an era when many popular entertainers are viewed as superficial and materialistic, STS9 and their brethren offer a refreshing reminder that music can be a powerful force for good in this world.