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Jerry Day 2014

by Trina Calderón on August 06, 2014

Jerry Day

McLaren Park

San Francisco, Calif.

August 3

Jerry Day is the annual celebration of great rock guitarist Jerry Garcia. Family, friends, and the city of San Francisco came together at McLaren Park in the Excelsior District where Jerry grew up this past Sunday, August 3rd, 2014, for the 12th annual dance party hosted at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. The free civic and cultural event was well attended by folks of all ages and ethnicities who rejoiced and reconnected with the bright spirit Jerry left behind in his music. This year, the lineup included Josh McIntosh, the Tea Leaf Trio, Stu Allen and Mars Hotel, and Melvin Seals & JBG closing out the beautiful afternoon in the park.

While clouds floated overhead most of the day, patches of sunlight broke through while Stu Allen played an extensive set with special guests Robin Sylvester, Jeff Chimenti, Steve Ellis, and Marcus Malone (one of the original percussionists from Carlos Santana Blues Band who recently reunited with Santana after he was discovered homeless in Oakland by a TV reporter in 2013). Sam Johnson came out on harmonica for “It's All Over Now” and Stu donned his mad hatter top hat for a thunderous “Other One.”The band and the audience had total symbiotic liftoff as “Dark Star” and “Throwing Stones” literally tore the place apart.

Jerry's longtime keyboardist and good friend Melvin Seals raged with JGB, playing classics “Russian Lullaby,” “Johnny Too Bad” and “Sisters and Brothers.” It was impossible not to have your boogie on, and make new friends while surrounded by familiar faces in the hillside park.

The San Francisco Parks Alliance sponsors Jerry Day every year. Designed to recognize Jerry's childhood stomping grounds in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, Jerry Day was founded in 2002, when the community came together to fundraise for a dilapidated playground in the southeastern part of the Excelsior District. A local contacted the Jerry Garcia Estate to seek their financial support to help create awareness for the diverse and low-income area, as well as their blessing to memorialize Jerry Garcia in his childhood neighborhood. In result, the community was able to organize and use his artwork to fundraise for the playground and to rename an amphitheater in his name, the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. The first Jerry Garcia event in the Excelsior District happened on September 19th, 2002 at the Italian American Social Club, which raised $5000 for the playground and called the event 'Jerry Shirt' after a shirt that was used as a fundraiser for the playground.

Jerry's childhood homes are also being acknowledged by the San Francisco Department of Public Works' commemorative plaque program later this year. A proposed installation of two plaques at Jerry's childhood homes on 121 Amazon Ave. (where he lived his first five years in the Excelsior district), and at 87 Harrington St., (where Jerry and his brother, Tiff, moved in with their maternal grandparents, also in the Excelsior district). The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the resolution this fall. "Commemorating the childhood homes of Jerry Garcia will celebrate Garcia's unique contributions to the social and cultural life of the City and help promote the significant role the Excelsior District played in the formative years of this unique San Franciscan," the resolution says. No doubt that Jerry played an important role in the Bay Area music tradition, and in the hearts of so many fans.

Authors: Trina Calderón