Deadheads For The Environment!

The 10th annual Grateful Dead tribute concert benefits the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance


On Friday, June 14, 50 musicians from the Brandywine Valley will converge on the Myrick Conservation Center in West Chester for “Dead Fest Ten: A Decade of Awesome,” an evening of heady jams in celebration of The Grateful Dead. It’ll be a party, for sure, but the evening’s primary purpose is to raise funds to support the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance (BRCA), a regional leader in environmental restoration of the Brandywine and White Clay watersheds.

To help ensure that Delaware’s rivers and streams meet water quality standards, BRCA has launched the Red Streams Blue initiative to restore the landscapes around the waterways to their natural state. Board member Rob Grant explains that deforestation and erosion have changed the ecology of area watersheds. A healthy waterway will have banks that slope down gradually from the surrounding landscape, which enables healthy flooding. Unfortunately, those gradual banks have long since eroded, transforming what were once gentle creeks into water expressways. This exacerbates erosion, creates more runoff and deposits more pollutants downstream. BRCA is working to mitigate this problem by restoring gradual sloping banks to streams and creeks throughout the Brandywine and White Clay watersheds.

Ticket revenues from “Dead Fest Ten: A Decade of Awesome” will support BRCA conservation projects. So you can hula hoop to Sugar Magnolias while also helping the environment.

Dead Fest has become a staple of the greater Wilmington concert scene, attracting nearly 3,000 attendees annually for what is arguably the biggest deadhead concert of the season. Summers have become saturated with music festivals, but Dead Fest stands apart. First, there are no bands, explains Grant. The organizational model behind Dead Fest is relaxed, with musicians rotating on and off stage to emulate the kinds of collaborative jams on which the Grateful Dead and its countless spinoffs and tribute acts have built their reputations.

“We deliberately avoid putting an entire band together on stage,” says Grant. “Be ready to be surprised, because everybody does things differently. No one really knows what is going to happen next.”

In true deadhead fashion, the improvisational nature of the evening makes the concert as much fun for the musicians as it is for the crowd.

“Musicians enjoy it because we’re playing with our friends we don’t normally play with,” says Grant. “So it’s just fun for us to do that and we like the challenge of playing with different people, and the crowd really seems to pick up on that.”

Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 at the door the day of the event. This is a family-friendly event. Children under 12 are admitted for free, and ages 12 to 18 or older with a college ID can get in for $10. Gates open at 5 p.m., and music starts at 6. The event is BYOB. The festival organizers encourage everyone to carpool—there is limited parking in the area.

Visit or call 610-793-1090 for more information and ticket options.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.