City Star emcee holds fundraiser in Berthoud, delivers instruments to Flint, Mich.

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

City Star Brewing emcee Ian Phillips wanted to give the gift of music so, just before Christmas, he traveled to Flint, Mich., to drop off $4,000 worth of slightly-used and new instruments.

Phillips made the delivery to the YMCA of Greater Flint, Mich., for a new free after-school music program called Y Safe Places. His donation is through Chase the Music, a Lyons-based nonprofit headed up by Clark Hodge, son of Clyde and Jan Hodge of Berthoud.

Ian Phillips, a volunteer with Chase the Music in Lyons, left, shakes hands with Moses Bingham, director of the YMCA of Greater Flint, Mich., after he drops off instrument donations Dec. 23 that will be distributed to youth.

“Even though it seems like an easy and small thing to do, if you give a child a guitar, they’ll create their own magic with that,” said Phillips, a New York native who now lives in Lyons.

Phillips delivered 30 slightly-used instruments, including guitars, ukuleles, violins, trumpets, flutes and keyboards, through Chase the Music to Flint, a project he launched three months ago in Berthoud. He purchased another $1,500 worth of instruments, amplifiers, sound systems and drum machines at a discount from music stores in Flint and Longmont, using money he raised through donations and a fundraising concert at City Star in Berthoud. He also provided $900 in seed money for the YMCA to hire staffing for the new program.

The City Star concert Dec. 19 was part of the pop-up concerts for charity Phillips emcees at the brewery. The concert had a turnout of about 30 people and raised $1,100 for the project — of that amount, the brewery donated $1 per beer sold that day, or $100.

“It was small numbers that created big things,” said Phillips, who helps manage the brewery’s special events, adding the brewery provides live music in the taproom and was supportive of the project. “Giving kids hope and love through music, it’s something they immediately got behind.”

Chase the Music, founded in 2014, presents children battling critical conditions with music composed and performed specifically for them. The nonprofit hires professional musicians to write the music for a specific child or group of children that is performed at hospitals, concert venues or other locations. The performances are recorded for the children to keep as memories.

In Berthoud, Chase the Music provided a performance for an 11-year-old Berthoud girl in summer 2016 at the local farmers market.

“The whole idea of Chase the Music is inspiring hope and seeing a better tomorrow, and music is a way to do that,” Phillips said.

Phillips provided children with the instruments to create their own music, and the nonprofit provided the fiscal sponsorship to his efforts.

“I just paired up with them for a project for the holidays to bring musical instruments to Flint,” Phillips said, adding he plans to do additional projects with the nonprofit. “It’s a city suffering a tremendous amount of pain. … There’s really not a lot of hope. … It’s a level of poverty and despair we certainly are not used to with the luxury of living in Colorado.”

Phillips organized a similar project for Christmas 2016, when he collected and delivered $3,000 worth of new and slightly-used instruments to a Navajo reservation in Chinle, Ariz. He wanted to do the same thing this year but on a larger scale, so he decided to pair up with Chase the Music.

“Our missions are inline. We’re giving hope and love though music,” Phillips said.

Phillips, who doesn’t play an instrument, made his first trip in memory of the wife of one of his friends, Tonya Dubeansky, who died in 2016 of brain cancer and was a music teacher in New York City.

“She was just a good person and cared about making children happy,” Phillips said.

Music is something many people love and can be a source of inspiration and hope, while also opening doors for those who get involved with it.

“Many people can understand the importance of music, especially at a time when music programs are getting cut,” Phillips said.

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