Smile Politely

SvenStock 2017: Binding together to support fighters and survivors

It seems that music and raising money go hand in hand in the C-U area, there’s some type of benefit show almost weekly here, which is definitely something to brag about. 

SvenStock doesn’t actually take place in the C-U area, but a little ways a way in a town called Sadorus on a farm. We got in contact with one of the organizers as well as the host, Stephen “Sven” Johnson, to see what this benefit festival was all about.

This festival benefits Imerman Angels, their mission is “to provide personalized connections that enable one-on-one support among cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.” They believe that “no one should have to fight cancer alone or without the proper support needed.”

Smile Politely: Give us an introduction to “SvenStock,” what is it? How long has it been going on? Who exactly is involved?

Stephen “Sven” Johnson: SvenStock is a chill fundraising event that raises funds for a charity. Music, food, and camping.  This will be its 3rd official year. SvenStock was originally musicians coming out to the farm and playing for one another, roasting weenies, and watching a movie under the stars. The SvenStock name is a little embarrassing since the name was a joke originally, but it stuck. I think I came to a point where I thought: “why not make this an event for charity and raise funds and awareness for a particular organization?”

For the last two years, it has been Jordan Schwartz (Finer Feelings/Early Eighties) and me setting up and running sound for SvenStock. That’s the great thing about events like this, once the music is lined up and scheduled, the event pretty much runs itself. The biggest part is getting people to come out to Sadorus. This year a team of people and I are raising funds for Imerman Angels.  We’re called the Sadorian Uprising because we either live in Sadorus or have ties to Sadorus and we are “uprising” against cancer. We are all running the Chicago Marathon in October and we have to raise $4,250 as a team.

SP: What inspired SvenStock?

Johnson: I like local live music, I don’t like to leave my house… problem solved. 

Seriously though, this fundraising event began because I have always been into creating fundraising events. I have been fundraising in one way or another for the last 10 years. The C-U area has an abundance of talented BIG-hearted musicians.  They make my job easy, It doesn’t take much arm-twisting to get anyone to come out and volunteer their time and talent. We live on a five-acre piece of land that has very few neighbors, it’s the perfect place to have an event.

I want people to hang out, eat some food, camp, play some outdoor ping-pong (we have a table set up for some odd reason) and enjoy being in the country. If in addition, we raise some funds for a great cause, even better.

SP: Where will it take place this year? Date and time? Suggested donation?

Johnson: SvenStock is at our home/horse farm in Sadorus called D’StillHer Farm.  August 5th from 3 p.m.-midnight. We are asking for a $10 donation, all of that money will go straight to Imerman Angels and our fundraising goal.

SP: Tell us about Imerman Angels, who are they? What’s the cause? How’d you get involved?

Johnson: Imerman Angles is an organization that matches cancer fighters with cancer survivors. Imerman Angels have a database of over 7,500 mentor angels and will match up anyone facing cancer so that they do not have to face cancer alone. A mentor angel is someone who has signed up to mentor a cancer patient, caregiver or family member because they have gone through a similar cancer diagnosis. I have been running marathons and raising money for Imerman Angels since 2011. Over the past six years I’ve run 47 marathons for Imerman Angels and they are very close to my heart. My wife Leslie is celebrating her 10-year cancerversary this year, she is a member of the Sadorian Uprising, her cousin Laura and Peggy are also part of the team and we are all running the Chicago Marathon in October.

SP: Are there any differences between this year and previous years?


  1. First off, we have 15 musical acts this year compared to 10… so hopefully there is something for everyone!
  2. We have two bands that are arriving from out of state.
  3. We are having a bags tournament from 4-6 p.m.

SP: What will be taking place at SvenStock? Bands, activities, etc?

Johnson: I haven’t announced all of the bands yet! But here is the lineup:

  • Kurt Bielma
  • Etumu Elmari
  • Rebekah Songer
  • Nectar
  • Snayl
  • Isaac Arms
  • Single Player
  • + many more to be announced

SP: What’s the goal here? How much are you hoping to raise?

Johnson: We are hoping to raise around $2,000 that would help us all meet our goal.

SP: Anything else people should know about the cause or event?

Johnson: If you know of anyone who could use some emotional support through cancer, they should contact Imerman Angels.

All photos were taken by Eric Frahm.

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