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Remember Me

Richard Burleigh Memorial Scholarship Dance
Sonora, CA...On January 1st, 2016, Tuolumne County awoke to the New Year with sad news that one of its best-loved arts benefactors had passed, Richard Burleigh. With nearly 40 years' experience organizing popular arts, crafts and music festivals, Burleigh will long live in the hearts of many people as the man, who brought us creative fun!Now, to honor him Burleigh's family and Tuolumne County Arts Alliance are working together to create the Richard Burleigh Memorial Scholarship to support local youth arts. "From the day he moved to Tuolumne County, Richard went to work to help create our local arts council," says TCAA's executive director Connie O'Connor-Gahagan. "He was a founding member of our arts advocacy work. With such a deep friendship, everyone at TCAA knew that we needed to help build a lasting tribute to this brilliant producer and artist."

On Saturday, February 11th, TCAA and the Burleigh-Grandstaffs will host the first fund raiser for their new scholarship program. "Richard wanted kids to have every chance to get involved in the arts," says his wife Corinne Grandstaff, "So, we're going to help make that dream real."

The inaugural RBM Dance takes place at the Sonora Opera Hall, located at 250 S. Washington St., on February 11th, beginning at 7pm with doors opening at 6pm. "We're wrapping up our February Art Night with this amazing gathering," says Art Night committee member and TCAA member Laurie Lehmann. Advance tickets of $30 are now on sale at Mountain Bookshop, 13769-I Mono Way (209.532.6117), at Tradewinds Fine Consignment, 63 S. Washington St. (209.588.8810), or online at www.tuolumnecountyarts/ . If available, tickets will sell at the door for $35 that evening. "We hope that lots of folks will get their tickets early," says Lehmann, a longtime friend and one of the Christmas Crafts Faire's first elves. "This is going to be such a great night!" During the evening guests can purchase pizza from one of Tuolumne County's local food carts, Old Skool Pizza, and a no-host beer and wine bar.

"Our concert will feature two very popular bands, that my dad enjoyed," says Kailee Burleigh, daughter of the much loved promoter. "He loved introducing Tuolumne County to great new music and musicians, so we're bringing out some of the best." The featured band for the evening is Painted Mandolin, a northern California group who explores the acoustic side of the Grateful Dead's legendary Jerry Garcia. Comprised of some of the North State's best musicians, Painted Mandolin jams with great energy and strong vocals covering Garcia's Jug Band days, his Bluegrass period, as well as the Grateful Dead's "Reckoning" period. The anchor for this up and coming band is freestyle multi-instrumentalist , music educator, theatre performer, and sound-poet Joe Craven, a former member of the David Grisman Quintet and Mumbo Gumbo. An international musical force, Craven has also partnered with many well-known musicians, such as Alison Brown, Jason Marsalis, David Lindley, and more. Currently Craven and his own family are embarking on a musical research trip to Cuba. "We're quite excited to dive into the rhythmic beat of this Caribbean treasure," Craven states. "I'd love to bring some of that musical spice home and share it at our night in Sonora." In late April 2017 Craven will offer his second Vocàli Camp, a weekend of vocal arts, at Camp Sylvester in Pinecrest, CA. "Joe is a flowing river of creativity, community, and magical charm," says longtime arts advocate BZ Smith. "During Strawberry Music you can expect to see Joe invited on stage to add his musical textures to any number of acts. But most important now is this: Richard Burleigh and Joe were dear friends for more than 30 years. It's no wonder that Joe is an integral part of this Tuolumne County celebration of Burleigh, our very own Rainbow Tie-Dye Hippie Man." Rounding out Painted Mandolin will be a host of outstanding musicians, who are mostly based in the Santa Cruz Mountains: Guitarist and vocalist Larry Graff, founding member of the Banana Slug String Band, ChinaCats' Matt Hartle on banjotar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and percussion, and Roger Sideman, also of ChinaCats, on bass.

Opening for Painted Mandolins is one of the Mother Lode's most creative acoustic bands, Risky Biscuits, who opened the Fall 2016 Strawberry Music Festival. The eclectic group is renowned for its tight Bluegrass, juxtaposed with its own style of Break-Out Jazz. "These talented young guys are incredible musicians," says Lehmann. "We're so lucky to have this group in our own area! They are going places with their music!" The six-member group describes their songs as "mountain music from the heart and the trees, creating a state of mind that grows like a virus, infecting the brain of the musically inclined." Members of the band include fiddler Austin Broder, Emery Nelson on percussion, Travis Schlafman on banjo, keyboardist Nathan Semprebon, songwriter and guitarman Kiel Williams and bassist Andy Merrill. The latter two are both graduates of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

"We all need to remember Burleigh for his work that laid groundwork for our local arts community," says Gahagan-O'Connor. "He was the driving force behind the Sonora Christmas Craft Fair and Music Festival, the Summer Arts & Wine Fest in Twain Harte, as well as the producer of the Blues and Brews Fest, which lasted for 16 years. He produced many festivals and concerts in other northern California communities, and knew every influential contemporary musician on the West Coast."

Burleigh was born Aug. 20, 1948, in Santa Monica. In his 20s, he worked in banking, stained glass and glass restoration in the Los Angeles area before making his way north. He arrived in the Mother Lode in 1975, and soon after opened Fire on the Mountain Stained Glass Studio in Twain Harte. A few years later that entity morphed into Fire on the Mountain Productions.

"Richard had a knack for seeing new artistic talent, and he understood how to structure large events," remembers arts advocate and storyteller BZ Smith. "It's no wonder that he launched this amazing history of festivals!" Burleigh's creative mind was tireless, attending over 50 shows a year to scout out new talent and to promote his local shows in Tuolumne County. Along the way, he gave many new artists and artisans a platform to get their work known. But over the years the promoter's health began to decline. This tribute concert and fund raiser gives the community a chance to hold on to Burleigh's memory for years to come.

Burleigh had a rich love of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead's acoustic music. The two featured bands for this concert, Painted Mandolin and Risky Biscuits, are cut from that same piece of tie-dyed cloth, and are deeply inspired by the Grateful Dead. "These bands are perfect for my dad! Joe Craven is a close friend, and the reason I chose Risky Biscuits, was because he loved supporting up and coming acts," says his daughter Kailee Burleigh. "He always wanted to go see them, but I don't know that he ever made it."

Burleigh truly believed that our lives are enhanced through the arts. Now this new scholarship fund will help his family carry on Richard's legacy. Says wife Corinne, "We're grateful to the arts council and Richard's many friends for helping us. We share Richard's vision of strengthening children's lives through the arts." Once the fund is established, Grandstaff and her children hope to help provide access to the arts through arts scholarships, grants, arts lessons, instrument rental or purchase, and possibly helping to bring guest artists and musicians to the area. "If you'd like to contribute, but you can't come that night, please make a donation in Richard's honor to TCAA-Hearts for the Arts," the arts council's O'Connor-Gahagan. "We have an easy-to-use donation button at our website!" For more information, please visit and learn more about TCAA's Hearts for the Arts programs.
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