Grateful Dead's Rex Foundation to Celebrate 20 Years with Chicago Benefit

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Philanthropic Organization To Hold Â?Black Tie-Dye BallÂ? Concert Fundraiser Featuring the Dark Star Orchestra

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San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) February 5, 2004 -- The Rex Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1983 by friends and members of the Grateful Dead, initiates the celebration of its 20th year of grant making with a benefit concert. The ‘Black Tie-Dye Ball’ fundraiser features the Dark Star Orchestra, referred to by the Washington Post as "the hottest Grateful Dead tribute act going", Saturday, March 6 at the Park West in Chicago and benefits Chicago-area charities.

Proceeds from the March 6th benefit will support the following local-area programs: Albany Park Theater Project, a multi-ethnic ensemble of teenagers creating original performance works out of real-life stories. Cathedral Shelter of Chicago, which provides crisis intervention, addiction recovery, community assistance and life skills development to the most vulnerable in order to prevent homelessness and hunger. Chicago Women's Health Center has provided quality health care and counseling services to women regardless of ability to pay since 1975. Grand Avenue Club in Milwaukee, WI, which provides adults who have experienced mental illness with pre-vocational, employment, educational, housing and recreational opportunities that will enable them to fully integrate into their communities.

In the Spring of 1984 the first Rex Benefit was held in San Rafael, California. For the next 11 years, the Grateful Dead performed Rex Benefit concerts across the country that resulted in over $7 million in grants to some 900 programs. In December 2001, the Rex Foundation initiated its renewal efforts by presenting benefit events and extending its reach to a broad base of supporters, and has since granted $350,000 to 50 programs.

"The Black Tie-Dye Ball is our first benefit outside of the Bay Area since 1994," says Sandy Sohcot, Executive Director. "We're excited about initiating our 20th Anniversary celebration in Chicago with Dark Star Orchestra. This not only honors our history, but also celebrates the success of our renewal efforts to connect with an extended base of musicians and fans who want to see the Rex Foundation once again fund many worthwhile programs." The fundraiser begins with a pre-concert reception with the artists, dinner, and silent auction at premium contribution levels, the public are invited in and the show begins.

Dark Star Orchestra performed its first shows in November 1997 at Martyrs' in Chicago. Giving homage in a continually evolving artistic outlet, the band recreates historic Grateful Dead set lists with compelling accuracy. Each night, the Chicago-based band decides on performing one show from the 2,500 that the Grateful Dead performed during their 30-year tenure as fathers of improvisational rock. Dark Star Orchestra presents the complete original set list, song by song, and in order, with uncanny faithful interpretation.

The group has their craft so well-refined that even members of the Grateful Dead themselves, rhythm guitarist/singer Bob Weir, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, and keyboardist Vince Welnick, have appeared on stage and performed with these live music interpreters. Rolling Stone praises "Dark Star Orchestra's fanatical attention to detail" and USA Today says DSO is "channeling the Dead."

"Since forming in 1997, Dark Star Orchestra has had the honor of carrying the torch for the music of the Grateful Dead, and now we have the opportunity to help in another way," says Scott Larned, keyboardist/manager of Dark Star Orchestra. "The benefit will utilize local artists, businesses, caterers, and promoters to generate funds that the Rex Foundation will turn around and grant to worthy causes in the Chicago area. We look forward to supporting the Rex Foundation and keeping the strong the sense of community that the Grateful Dead generated, given the local nature of this special event."

The Rex Foundation was established in 1983 as a non-profit charitable organization in order to provide community support for creative endeavors in the arts, the sciences, and in education. With the death of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995, the Rex Foundation lost a friend and board member. With the cessation of Grateful Dead touring, the Foundation lost its main source of funding.

In December 2001, the Rex Foundation presented its first benefit concert to help launch the renewal of the Rex Foundation’s activities. The concert - The Healing Power of Music - helped spark a new era of broad community support for the organization. Since then, the Rex Foundation has granted over $350,000 to 50 programs. Proceeds from the Black Tie-Dye Ball will not only support Chicago-area programs, they will also support the foundation's goal to multiply its grant making each year and once again fund many grassroots programs that might not otherwise receive mainstream recognition yet work in innovative, bold, and sometimes controversial ways to bring about helpful solutions to local and global challenges.

The March 6 benefit fundraiser event takes place at the Park West Theater at 322 W. Armitage Avenue in Chicago. Dinner and pre-concert reception begin at 5:30 PM, doors open to the public at 7:30 PM, music begins at 8 PM. Concert ticket prices are $35 and are available now at all TicketMaster locations, or by calling (312) 559-1212, and the Grateful Dead Ticketing Service at or (415) 457-6388. Tickets which include a special pre-concert Reception with the artists, Dinner and Silent Auction are available by calling the Rex Foundation at (415) 457-1296 or by visiting the website at


The mission of the Rex Foundation is to help secure a healthy environment, promote individuality in the arts, provide support to critical and necessary social services, assist others less fortunate than ourselves, protect the rights of indigenous people and ensure their cultural survival, build a stronger community, and educate children and adults everywhere. For more information on the Rex Foundation, visit the website at


Dave Weissman                

Dark Star Orchestra


Sandy Sohcot

Executive Director    

Rex Foundation



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