On February 27, 2019 the historical River Theater was completely flooded by the Russian River. The area surrounding our town of Guerneville was declared a natural disaster, causing the National Guard to take over the city and putting Guerneville's name in news headlines across the country. The theater is a multi-level structure, and the water filled the dance floor, the stage, the sound booth, the middle floor and up into the lobby. The damage is catastrophic.
What is the River Theater? Located in Guerneville, California, 70 miles north of San Francisco, the Theater was built in the spring of 1947, originally as a movie theater, but for several decades the theater has served as a legendary music venue. Many artists have performed at the Theater, including the Jerry Garcia Band, Rickey Nelson, Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, Emmylou Harris, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe McDonald, Merle Sounders, The Dead, Martin Fierro, Ronnie Montrose, Elvin Bishop, Buddy Owen Band, and Joules Brossard.
To give a little background on me, I'm a disabled Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War. I was ground support crew chief in the top secret fighter bomber squad, the Wild Weasels. I employ other war veterans at the River Theater, as well as offer internships which teach valuable skills for employment.
I put my heart and soul into restoring this theater; it is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system and lights. During the devastating flood in April, we suffered colossal damage; the entire sound system and other integral equipment was damaged, including the speakers, soundboards, monitors and lighting system. We need to replace all of this equipment. We will also need to replace the sheetrock walls and the electrical wiring. We must purchase permits for the repairs and cleanup. The theater is currently inundated with a thick layer of slippery mud, which we are in the throes of cleaning up.
A modest estimate of costs to save the River Theater would be $125,000.
I am a contractor and a sound engineer, so I will be able to do a lot of the work myself, but I will need help with materials, equipment, permit fees, and some labor.
We are hoping to raise $125,00 to save the River Theater. We humbly ask for your help. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Aside from monetary contributions, there are plenty of ways to help. We are looking for companies that carry sound equipment or projection equipment to donate. We can offer 501 3c nonprofit tax write-offs for the donations. We are looking for headlining artists to donate their time by performing at the River Theater, once we are up and running again, to raise the funds we need to stay in business. We welcome any helpers that have experience fundraising. We ask that you spread the word and share this post to reach others who are in a position to help.
We are starting with the cleanup now, and need the necessary funds asap. Thanks to everyone who can donate or is willing to help in some way. We are immensely grateful.
Together we can keep this musical icon alive and thriving!
Facebook: Jerry Knights River Theater
- John Anderson
- Justin Sowa
- Sue Wilkinson