Summer of Jerry

San Rafael Rocks celebrates the Dead

‘In 1968, I was an 18- year-old kid in Ohio who wished I could stroll through the Haight-Ashbury,” says San Rafael marketing guru Bruce Burtch, who helped provide us with our cover this week.

The painting is an original portrait of Jerry Garcia by legendary 1960s rocker Commander Cody. The painting will be part of a month-long fandango orchestrated by Burtch to celebrate rock icons in what we’re decreeing is the Summer of Jerry.

The event is called, naturally, San Rafael Rocks, and San Rafael will commence to rock in June. It will rock through July, thanks to Burtch, who has produced and curated a multi-platform celebration of the art of rock that includes the biggest-ever showing of art by the late Garcia (thanks to the good graces of the Jerry Garcia Foundation, which is overseen by the musician’s family). This is the first-ever project of the foundation in the United States, says Burtch.

The raison d’être goes beyond the celebration of a dearly departed icon with San Rafael roots: Burtch is raising money for a cause he’s passionate about, helping at-risk youth.

With the Fare Thee Well hoopla as backdrop, Burtch’s first move was to approach well-known musicians who are also noted visual artists, and get them to donate paintings to benefit DrawBridge, a Bay Area organization that connects youth-at-risk with art programs.

Now there’s an art show, a film festival, a street fair, a planned musical tribute to Garcia and a local webcast of the final Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead show.

The Art of Rock Legends kicks off June 12 and runs through July 24 at Artworks Downtown (1337 Fourth St., San Rafael). Along with seven Garcia artworks to be auctioned, Burtch has used his powers of persuasion to coax works into the San Rafael gallery from the likes of the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin, Carlos Santana and Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman.

The Rock and Roll Film Festival unspools July 6–8 at the Rafael Theater (1118 Fourth St., San Rafael) and will emphasize films about the Grateful Dead and the Jer-Man. As a high-impact warmup show, on July 5, the Rafael Theater will webcast the last of the Fare Thee Well Dead shows from Soldier Field in Chicago.

A rock and roll Block Party in downtown San Rafael on July 11 will include all kinds of cool, vintage poster art from the folks at the Rock Poster Art Society.

And finally, the Fenix (919 Fourth St., San Rafael) is tentatively putting July 15 on the calendar for a musical event hosted by Merl Saunders Jr. Merl Jr. works at the theater and Merl Sr. was a musical collaborator with Garcia. Burtch says to expect “a very special guest” at this show, the details of which are still being hashed out.

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