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Can Jerry Day Turn Around The Doom Loop in SF?

Updated: Aug 06, 2023 09:08
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This weekend in SF’s Excelsior District, the city will celebrate Jerry Garcia with Jerry Day and Jerry Nite.  I met one of the organizers, Tom Murphy, at Harmonic Brewery when Dead and Co played their final show at Oracle Park. I knew Jerry Day was a big thing for deadheads, but I didn’t realize until talking with Mr. Murphy, how important Jerry Day has become for the community of San Francisco.  Mr. Murphy tells me, “There is no doom loop in San Francisco, the streets of San Francisco are coming back to life thanks to the music of the Grateful Dead” and I think he’s onto something here.

Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin

The Origin of Jerry Day

Mr. Murphy tells me, that the community came together wanting to fundraise to rebuild a dilapidated playground in the Excelsior District, that he reached out to the Jerry Garcia Estate for financial backing, support and blessing to memorialize Jerry Garcia in his childhood neighborhood.  The first Jerry Day took place at the Italian American Social Club where they raised $5000 for the playground by selling “Jerry T-shirts.”

The following year, the community members decided to keep the event going and moved it to McLaren Park Amphitheater, which in 2005 was named the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, as an Annual Cultural Event for the City and County of San Francisco.  “After years of park revitalization, ongoing awareness, and community empowerment, Jerry Day was recognized and honored to win the Best Community Building Event award in 2009.” says Mr. Murphy

Fans dancing during Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin

There have been some memorable Jerry Days including in 2010 when they collaborated with the San Francisco Giants for Jerry Garcia Night.  The San Francisco Giants won their first World Series that year and then won it again the next two times they had Jerry Garcia Night.  Last year was also a memorial to Jerry Day as Mr. Murphy tells me his favorite Jerry Day is always the one that just happened and he feels that this year is no different.

 “Newer and younger San Franciscans are embracing deadhead culture more and more, and after three sold out nights at Dead and Co, there is a momentum and the  positive impact this band has had on the city remains. We look forward to taking that energy and bringing it to Jerry Day and the Excelsior corridor, which is near Jerry Garcia’s two childhood homes and where he started to learn how to play guitar.  We are looking forward to having another successful event and supporting local merchants.

Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin

Introducing Jerry Nite in SF

2022 was also the Inaugural Jerry Night. Which took shape from Jerry Day’s relationship with the Dark Horse Inn on Geneva Ave.  Dark Horse is located one block from Jerry Garcia’s childhood home and that Jerry Day coincided with an ArtSpan event that fell on Jerry day last year.  It was such a success that Andrea from Dark Horse and Excelsior Outer Mission Merchants created the artwork in 2022 and suggested keeping the name Jerry Nite.

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What to expect for this years Jerry Day & Nite

The amphitheater will open at 11 am. The day will start with opening remarks from Mayor London Breed and Jerry Garcia’s daughter, Trixie.  The line up includes Box Set, Melvin Seals with the Jerry Garcia Band, and Stu Allen with Mars Hotel.  Attendees are reminded that this is a no smoking event, kids are welcome, but to leave their furry friends at home, and it is a cash only event. If you can’t make the event, the audio will be live streamed and a video will be posted on youtube at a later date.

Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin

Jerry Nite will start at 6pm with music at 6 different venues and will go on until 10:30 pm.Be sure to walk around and take time to visit and see the two plaques in Jerry Garcia’s honor on Mission Street. 

When I left the final Dead and Co show, I thought about all the music in the area. After talking with Mr. Murphy, I’m reminded that the Grateful Dead is more than music, it’s a movement, it’s community. I appreciate Mr. Murphy’s dedication to the Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhood and learning the legacy that Jerry Garcia, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, not only had on music, but on his neighborhood, and I hope that Jerry Day continues to bring life to the parks and businesses of San Francisco.

Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin

Where is Jerry Day?

Jerry Day is at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

McClaren Park, San Francisco
Excelsior District

You can also participate in Jerry Day in these San Francisco locations:

Recovery Room
4528 Mission St
w/ Hot Mountain Dips
(Dead, Americana)

 Tala Wine
4625 Mission St
w/ Three Flower Jam

The Check In
201 Ocean Ave
w/ Kim Capria

Bottoms Up
4704 Mission St
w/ Sweet Undertow

4826 Mission St
w/ Six Foot Banditos

Dark Horse Inn
942 Geneva Ave
w/ The Bonafides

For more information on other Grateful Dead Events, check out our article FAREWELL TO DEAD AND CO.: THEIR SPIRIT LIVES ON IN LOCAL MUSICIANS

Jerry Day in San Francisco – photo by Bob Minkin


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Nicole Ski

Nicole Ski

Nicole is from New Jersey. She's lived in the East Bay for 10 years and cherishes all it has to offer as well as what it's taught her. She loves to travel, learn new trails in the redwoods, and is a live music aPHISHianato.