For many years starting in 2006, local music stalwart Austin de Lone curated an annual live music fundraiser for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project, the residential facility he and his wife hoped to create for people with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which includes his son Richard, who is afflicted with the rare chromosomal disorder that affects 1 in 15,000 births and causes those who suffer from it to be insatiably hungry and require ongoing care.
The de Lone family had paused the event in recent years, but it’s coming back in a massive way this month. Music legend Elvis Costello, long a fan, collaborator and colleague of the late icon Jerry Garcia, as well as songwriting guru Robert Hunter, is set to perform Elvis Sings Hunter-Garcia, a pair of intimate shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 30 (7pm & 10pm) to benefit the Prader-Willi Homes of California. NOTE: Both shows have sold out.
The proceeds from both shows will go towards Prader-Willi Homes of California (formerly the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project), which seeks to provide social services to people born with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), and to build and maintain homes for people living with PWS and similar disabilities.
“We are so lucky to have Elvis as a friend and adviser to Prader-Willi Homes of California,” PWHC executive director Austin de Lone told Live for Live Music in a statement. “This is a momentous occasion, as we have purchased our first home and are making the final push to fund renovations and give our first residents the specialized care they and their families have been dreaming of. The overwhelming requests for placement in this first house reinforces the importance of PWHC’s mission to purchase and support the multiple homes for the large number of California residents with PWS who lack the kind of housing they need.”
For most of the years that de Lone hosted his fundraising events, he did so around the same weekend as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, ensuring that many of his favorite collaborators and friends could turn up for it. Over the years, that has included Costello, Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, James Cotton, Jim Keltner, Buddy Miller, Jimmy Vaughn, Elvin Bishop, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Steve Earle, Loudon Wainwright, Carlene Carter, Ryan Bingham, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Bill Kirchen, Caroline de Lone, Robert Plant, Clover and many more.
Costello’s love for the music of the Grateful Dead and the lyricism of Hunter has been longstanding. In a 1991 Musician magazine cover story featuring himself and Garcia, Costello revealed that his experience at a four-hour Grateful Dead show during a 1972 festival in Greater Manchester’s Wigan had inspired him to start his own band.
According to Live for Live Music, he noted in the 1991 interview about getting into the Dead from England, “The real esoteric people were into West Coast bands. ‘Cause it was mysterious, it was like collecting stamps or something. You have this message from the other side of the world and you have no way of verifying it. And I made almost this willful decision, maybe ’cause I’d had the record through the years: I went, ‘Right, I’ll go further out now. Nobody will follow me to this one: the Grateful Dead,’ [laughter] You know, this music almost nobody can dig.”
In 2000, Costello contributed a pairing of “Ship of Fools” and “It Must Have Been The Roses” to the tribute album, Stolen Roses: Songs of the Grateful Dead. He also performed with Garcia a handful of times before the latter’s passing in 1995. Here’s a clip of the pair at the original Sweetwater Saloon in 1989: