Deadheads on the East Coast decided against sitting idly by while their musical heroes performed "Fare Thee Well" shows across the country in the Santa Clara, CA and Chicago areas. After hearing of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann's unwavering drive to continue performing and his expressed sadness for East Coast fans, Atlanta deadhead Rick Kline and company took matters into their own hands, challenging the band to give fans on the East the "Fare Thee Well" they yearn for.
On Thursday, July 16, fans of the Dead assembled and launched a Challeng.org charity campaign to raise as much money as possible--if the Dead agree to two performances on the East Coast, the entire earnings will go to the Rex Foundation, created in memory of the Dead's roadie, Rex Jackson. In just five days, the campaign procured more than $1,000 from dedicated fans. If the plan fails, the donated amount won't be charged to any challenge supporters.
As the Challeng website notes: "From their earliest days, the Grateful Dead received countless requests for help from community organizations, and became known for their generosity and their numerous benefit concerts. In the fall of 1983, members of the band, with family and friends, established the Rex Foundation--named after Rex Jackson, a Grateful Dead roadie and later road manager until his untimely death."
The 69-year-old drummer recently explained his desire to perform to PBS' News Hour: "I would like to do it more. Between you and me and all your lovely fans, I would like to have a couple more shows on the East Coast. I want to do it for the fans again because we had such, such amazing support in the East Coast from the Deadheads, the whole thing called the 'Grateful Dead Belt' between Boston and Washington. They deserve concerts like everybody does. I wish we had done two there too."
Speaking exclusively with founder and CEO of Challeng.org Benjamin Moshe, he detailed his personal music taste and overwhelming delight to be a part of the deadhead movement. "I'm more of a Dylan guy than a true Deadhead, but I'm a big classic rock fan generally and I definitely dig the Dead. I think this campaign is a perfect use of the Challeng platform: Deadheads are all about community, and this campaign lets fans express their demand for an East Coast show by giving back to that community. Rick is amazing; he's devoted a ton of time and energy to this movement and we couldn't be happier to be hosting his campaign," he said.
Although the "core four" of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (sans Jerry Garcia) said their goodbyes over an attendance record-breaking Fourth of July weekend, band reunion shows seem to be a bigger trend than fare well tours. Don' t give up hope just yet East Coasters: You have 162 more days until the campaign is up--if any fan base can make it happen, its the loyal and vagabond van-packing, country-spanning deadheads.