That the Grateful Dead’s music has remained a source of joy and inspiration for an ever-growing audience now 25 years after the passing of Jerry Garcia is simply one of life’s modern mysteries. But the endurance of the band’s Rex Foundation, still making charitable grants and effecting change—that’s a miracle. The band was its sole source of income, but in the years since Garcia, other bands, along with Dead Heads themselves, have stepped forward to celebrate and support the tradition of community building through grants that Rex still embodies.
In fact, like the Dead’s music, the Rex Foundation is more active than ever. Consider 2020’s “Daze Between" event, which took place during the Dead Head-created holiday celebrating the eight days between Garcia’s 8/1 birth and 8/9 passing, the name taken from a classic Hunter-Garcia song. Given the pandemic, it was virtual: over the period, 80 artists and storytellers from across the community gathered in cyberspace to play 120 different songs over nine days. The event saw more than 2.7 Million views spread across multiple platforms, including nugs.net, FANS, YouTube, and Facebook. Partners in the event included HeadCount, Keen, and the Jerry Garcia estate. Better still, it raised $150,000 in donations, a portion of which went to the artists who participated, fulfilling Rex’s spirit of taking care of the community.
Rex recently announced that $25,000 from Daze Between will go to the Rex Roadie Fund, a new Rex project in conjunction with Sweet Relief that aims to assist the hardworking touring crews of rock and roll (both at the bands and in the venues) who are out of work due to the pandemic. Good generating more good, the Bay Area’s legendary Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (which recently pulled off its own virtual version for 2020) has jumped in to match that sum. Feel free to join them both with a donation to https://www.sweetrelief.org/rex-roadie-fund.html.
That’s only one of a number of cool things going on. Rex recently partnered with “Little Kids Rock,” a national nonprofit supporting music education, to record a wonderful version of the Dead song “Touch of Grey” that included such well-known artists as David Hidalgo, Steve Berlin, and Louie Perez from Los Lobos, famed producer/bassist Don Was, Trombone Shorty, Jeff Chimenti of Dead & Co., Billy Strings, and Jay Lane (Primus), as well as kids from LKR’s national music education programs. See and listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy40Z745VTA. The video has already generated several thousand dollars in income for LKR.
And Rex continues to do what it has always done, supporting small nonprofits that practice social and environmental healing for the planet as a whole and arts programs for young people in particular. A partial list of this year’s recipients includes the Abundant Earth Foundation, which is establishing a permaculture program in Togo; Color Outside the Lines, which brings arts programs to at-risk kids in Portland, Oregon; the Give a Beat Foundation, which offers incarcerated youth an education in music production; the Human Needs Project of Kenya, which delivers water as well as computer and life-skills education; and Food Runners of San Francisco, which gathers food that would otherwise be discarded and makes sure it reaches those who need it.
There’s lots more information at www.rexfoundation.org about recipients – and yes, you are welcome to donate, too.