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RISMEDIA, October 22, 2009—“When we started out it was just rock and roll – who knew it would become historical,” said Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh as he and Dead guitarist Bob Weir took the stage Wednesday night during a benefit at the New York Historical Society for its upcoming Grateful Dead archive exhibit.

Seven New York-based real estate executives and fans of the band, organized and co-hosted the event, which gathered about 250 people for a meet-and-greet with Lesh and Weir, to preview of selections from the archive and raise funds to support the cost of the exhibit, opening in March 2010 at the historical society.

Phil Lesh and Bob Weir w Billy ProcidaCo-hosts included: Billy Procida, president of William Procida Inc., an Englewood Cliffs, NJ-based turnaround management firm for middle market real estate companies; Robert Lapidus, President, Chief Investment Officer and Co-founder of L&L Holding Company, LLC, a privately owned real estate company dedicated to investing in office buildings; Emanuel Stern, President and COO of Hartz Mountain Industries in Secaucus, NJ, who manages one of the largest privately held commercial real estate portfolios in the country; Brian Harris, CEO of Ladder Capital, a New York-based specialty finance company to the commercial real estate industry; Brad Settleman, Managing Director of Latus Partners, a real estate private equity fund based in New York City, Marc Warren, Owner, Linear Realty Capital, LLC in the Greater New York area; and Tom Marano, CEO of GMAC’s Mortgage Operations and Chief Capital Markets Executive.

Robert Lapidus“There is a huge connection between San Francisco [where the Grateful Dead was based] and New York so bringing the archive here for people to see is a big opportunity for this city,” said Marano. “The Dead have an enormous fan-base in New York and it’s great that we are able to have this event and do this. People may not realize it but Deadheads are an industrious group, as industrious as any capitalists out there.”

Certainly the crowd in attendance reflected that sentiment. Evan Silverman, a hedge fund manager and Dead fan from Manhattan, noted, “It’s great to see people in big business who love the Dead. When you listen to the words of their music you’re reminded of what’s important in life, and in my journey I try to apply that to how I operate in business as best I can. I hope others do that too – if more people listened to their music, the world would be a better place.”

Rachael Silverman (no relation to Evan), a raving Dead fan and grant writer for the American Geriatric Society, had heard about the fundraiser in a building update for employees where she works at the Empire State Building to inform them that the lights atop the landmark building would be set to simulate a tie-dye effect in honor of Wednesday’s event.

“I was so excited and immediately called the Historical Society to get a ticket,” she said, adding about the event co-chairs, “As a Deadhead everyone’s cool. It’s amazing to learn who are fans. It’s always a good thing to get people together.”

Procida jammingFans got a special opportunity to see Lesh, Weir and Jeff Chimenti, Weir’s keyboardist in his band Rat Dog, play a couple of the band’s hallmark tunes including “Paint My Masterpiece” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” in an up-close, intimate setting. Event co-host Billy Procida even joined in with the band, hopping up on stage with his guitar to play a song with New York-based Grateful Dead cover band Wig Jam, who provided the music Wednesday night.

The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society traces the career and achievements of a band that became one of the significant cultural forces in 20th century America. Through a wealth of original artwork and documents including concert and recording posters, album art, large-scale marionettes and other stage props, banners and decorated fan mail, the exhibition will explore the musical creativity and influence of the Grateful Dead from 1965 to 1995, the sociological phenomenon of the Deadheads (the band’s network of devoted fans) and the enduring impact of the Dead’s pioneering approach to the music business.

Materials in the exhibition will be drawn almost exclusively from the extraordinary holdings of the Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California Santa Cruz, established in 2008.

Photo information: Top, from left event co-chair Billy Procida with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead meet and greet benefit guests; Middle, event co-chair Robert Lapidus enjoys listening to Weir and Lesh play some tunes; and Third, Procida jams with Grateful Dead cover band Wig Jam Wednesday.

For more information about the exhibit, visit