The Garcia Project celebrates ‘Jerry Day’

The music of Jerry Garcia celebrated at the Stone Church on the anniversary of his birth

BRATTLEBORO — On what would have been his 80th birthday, Jerry Garcia's music is alive and well in 2022. Each year, in early August, tens of thousands of fans gather all over the globe to pay tribute to his kind spirit, listen to his music, and celebrate his birthday.

You will hear that music reverberating at the Stone Church next Monday, Aug. 1, at 8 p.m. when the Garcia Project rolls into town to pay homage to a beloved musical icon.

The group is on its annual “Days Between” tour in New England, with more than one dozen shows in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Vermont.

“Aug. 1, 2022 would have been Jerry Garcia's 80th birthday, and Aug. 9, 2022 is the date that marks Jerry's passing (27 years ago),” Mik Bondy, guitarist and vocalist, explains. “So Aug. 1 to 9 is what we, Jerry's fans, refer to as 'The Days Between.'”

Replicating arrangements, styles, and sounds

The Jerry Garcia Band remained the most important of Garcia's side projects until his death in 1995. Garcia also enjoyed playing in the Saunders-Garcia Band and Old and In the Way with David Grisman.

The Jerry Garcia Band toured and recorded sporadically throughout its 28 years and released 24 original recordings. The band lineup changed a number of times over the years, but the one constant member besides Garcia was bassist John Kahn.

The Garcia Project is the only nationally touring Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) tribute that performs full, classic JGB shows from 1976 to 1995 with proper, era-specific equipment and arrangements.

The band, founded by Bondy and Kat Walkerson 12 years ago, aims to faithfully perform the same arrangements, styles, and sounds of the Jerry Garcia Band's set lists from those decades while not playing them note-for-note.

Bondy, who adds his own guitar tone and feel as well as soulful vocals, was gifted two Jerry Garcia replica guitars and has spent years building a replica guitar rig, including the same speakers, amps, mods, and anything else to try to capture the tone and feel of Garcia back in the day.

Walkerson, who sang with Melvin Seals (keyboardist for Jerry Garcia Band from 1981 to 1995), is an accomplished and beloved vocalist.

The Garcia Project's bassist is Dan Crea, who joined the band in 2011. Crea has a collection of tribute basses that he uses for each era and has been building and perfecting his “John Kahn” bass rig.

Drummer Bob McKeon, who keeps the tempos for each era to the correct beat, and John Marsh will be joining the band on Hammond organ and piano on this tour.

'Spirit' album released

The Garcia Project recently released the group's first studio album, Spirit (2020, The Garcia Project and Good Clean Fun Productions) a tribute to Jerry Garcia and the spiritual, gospel and inspirational songs he performed throughout his career. It was produced by Maria Muldaur and featured Jerry Garcia's bandmates Peter Rowan, Jacklyn LaBranch, Buzz Buchanan, and Muldaur.

The CD and other merchandise will be available at the Stone Church show. The Spirit album and the digital download are also available at

The album features Bondy (The Garcia Project, Acoustically Speaking), Walkerson (The Garcia Project, Acoustically Speaking), Crea (The Garcia Project), and Tommy Nagy (The Garcia Project).

Guests include Buchanan (Jerry Garcia Band, Juice Newton), Jason Crosby (Phil & Friends, Moonalice, Doobie Decibel System), Jacob Jolliff (Yonder Mountain String Band), Gary Kaye (Mill Valley Musician), LaBranch (Jerry Garcia Band), Muldaur (Jerry Garcia Band), Rowan (Old and In The Way), and Rick Turner (cofounder of Alembic, Wall of Sound, Model 1 guitar).

According to a recent press release announcing the “Days Between” tour, Maria Muldaur first met Jerry Garcia in 1974 when he asked her to sing harmony with him on his second solo album, Cats Under the Stars. She started recording and sitting in with The Jerry Garcia Band and was an official member from 1977 to 1979.

“Recently, I was asked to sit in with a wonderful band called The Garcia Project, who lovingly and reverently recreates different specific sets of the Garcia Band in their heyday,” Muldaur says. “They don't merely recreate Jerry's music - as far as I'm concerned, they are channeling it.”

Muldaur describes herself as “moved and touched by how much the music moves the audience into a state of joyous community and rapture.”

“The Garcia Project brings us all back to that special time, and I'm excited and blessed to participate in giving new and old audiences alike, the chance to relive the spirit and magic of the Jerry Garcia Band,” she says.

Stone Church expands programming

“We just completed our third year participating in Independent Venue Week, a nationwide celebration of independent venues,” reported Robin Johnson, owner and general manager of the Stone Church, where the band will perform. This year, the effort to highlight and support these performing arts spaces included more than 1,100 shows in more than 400 venues in more than 200 cities.

Johnson also attended the inaugural National Independent Venue Association Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, “and while things are still pretty rocky for the live music industry coming out of Covid, there's a strong feeling of camaraderie, and a new powerful voice advocating for independent venues, promoters & artists that didn't exist prior to the pandemic,” he says.

He adds that the Stone Church has expanded programming “to include a series of high-end suppers, a greater focus on private catered events, as well as more comedy and other events to complement our great lineup of live music.”

“We're looking forward to our strongest season ever this fall and winter,” Johnson says, noting the impending concert from the Garcia Project is “their fourth time at the venue,” where “they always bring a great crowd.” During the pandemic lockdown, Bondy and Walkerson also performed a livestream during the 2020 Independent Venue Week.

For his part, Bondy is looking forward to performing again there.

“I've always felt that southern Vermont is the West Coast of the East Coast,” he says. “I love the vibe, the people, the food, and the mountains. Jerry's 80th birthday show is going to rock!”

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