UI alumni release compilation album to raise money for Cedar Rapids after derecho

Former Cedar Rapids residents Ed Bornstein and Andrew Cahak have released a compilation album benefitting the derecho recovery effort. The duo have individual labels based in Chicago and Minneapolis and have collaborated together in an effort to help the community rebuild.



Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

When the mid-August derecho hit the Cedar Rapids area, the inland hurricane left debris and damage citywide. Feeling the devastation of their former hometown from afar, duo Ed Bornstein and Andrew Cahak decided to team together to raise money in the best way they knew how — through music.

The former Cedar Rapidians and UI alumni have compiled songs from artists based locally and all over the world in order to help raise money for derecho recovery. Their final product, titled New Roots Grow, features over 100 tracks.

Bornstein will release the album through his music label, MoneyTapes. He created the label in August to raise money for mutual aid organizations. After hearing about the derecho, he knew that he wanted to help the recovery effort.

“I have always been a part of the music community, whether it was in Cedar Rapids or Chicago — where I am currently based out of,” Bornstein said. “Music is such a powerful resource and can bring so many people together.”

Bornstein reached out to his friend, Minneapolis-based Andrew Cahak, to create the album. Cahak, owner of his own label Math Lab, helped to create the cover art, which features three children playing on an uprooted tree.

“I looked for any and every way that I could help Ed with this project,” Cahak said. “After he asked me to collaborate, I knew this was a chance to help my community. Although I don’t live in Cedar Rapids anymore, I will always consider it home.”

At the beginning of September, both Bornstein and Cahak said they reached out to close musician contacts to see if they would be interested in helping with the project. The news quickly spread, and many artists were eager to contribute tracks to the album.

“It has been an extremely fast process,” Bornstein said. “Every musician has submitted their own recorded pieces, some that have never been released or have been sitting around for years.”

Artists from all across the U.S. have donated a variety of songs to be released as part of the album. Many of them are local — like R&B singer Aaron Jackson — and hail from either the Cedar Rapids or Iowa City community. The song submissions have extended outside the country’s borders, as well.

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“We actually have a band from Stuttgart, Germany, who reached out to us and wanted to donate a couple of tracks,” Cahak said. “They heard about us through Facebook and wanted to help despite not knowing where Iowa even is.”

The compilation will feature many different genres, including hip-hop, contemporary jazz, and rock.

“Our title is all about rebuilding and restrengthening, especially as our community overcomes this tragic event,” Cahak said.

The album is available for purchase through BandCamp. There is no set price for its purchase, allowing supports to put any amount of money they want toward the relief effort. The sale will run from Oct. 2 until Nov. 3. All proceeds, the organizers said, will be donated to charities Intercultural Iowa and Trees Forever.

The charities were chosen in part by Bornstein’s sister, Christina Springman, who lives in Cedar Rapids. Having experienced the derecho and its aftermath firsthand, Bornstein trusted her to choose organizations that would most benefit the community.

Springman said she noticed both a humanitarian and environmental crisis in Cedar Rapids and found charities that could contribute to both causes.

“Intercultural Iowa has been helping out the most vulnerable, especially the many refugees who lost their homes yet again,” Springman said. “We lost over 65 percent of our tree canopy, and Trees Forever is working towards restoring this canopy.”

Bornstein and Cahak confirmed that anyone who donates to Intercultural Iowa or Trees Forever after the sale of the compilation is closed can still receive a digital download code of the album if they email proof of the donation receipt to [email protected].

“Music is truly an amazing platform to help raise money for important causes,” Bornstein said. “I had no clue that we would get the support from these artists who have donated the tracks.”