The Garcia Project will make you Smile, Smile, Smile

Upstate NY band The Garcia Project has been on the move lately and wowing audiences from the East Coast to the West with their recreation of Jerry Garcia Band shows for the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The Garcia Project has come from playing little festivals in Upstate like The Strawberry Jam to Fiddlers Picnic and has gained a strong following in their home state. There’s just something about seeing this band live, you can’t help but close your eyes and kick off your shoes to spin barefoot in the grass wherever they are playing the sweet music of Jerry Garcia.

The band recently spent some time on the West Coast [home to the Grateful Dead] where they celebrated Jerry’s 72nd birthday at the Jerry Garcia Birthday Celebration in Santa Cruz, C.A. where they opened for and sat in with Los Angeles Grateful Dead legends, Cubensis. While in California the band was also invited to be VIP guests of the Jerry Day celebration in San Francisco – a huge honor to any GD family member.

This year’s Jerry Jam in Bath, N.H. was another milestone for the Garcia Project, not only were they the Friday night headliners but they had none other than JGB’s Melvin Seals sitting in on the keys for that event. The show can be heard on the Live Music Archive –

With such success this past summer the band will be looking forward into the Fall season with a main stage appearance at this year’s Wormtown Music Festival in Greenfield, M.A. Sept. 12-14, where they will be opening up for Dopapod and Max Creek. Making their way from the side stage to the main stage is an accomplishment bands strive for when first starting out and the Garcia Project has made the leap and audiences are welcoming them with open arms.

If you haven’t seen this band yet and you are a fan of JGB or the Grateful Dead, you must get out to see them – and run, don’t walk to their next appearance. You can catch them on Sept. 20 where they will be opening for New Riders of The Purple Sage at the Autumn Equinox Festival at Page Farm in Croydon, N.H. They will return to the Capital District to play the Rustic Barn in Troy, N.Y. on Sept. 27 with special guests Knot Dead. The band will then head to Glens Falls on Oct. 24 for a special evening at the Wood Theater where they will recreate a classic JGB show for fans. This band is on the move and a must see for any Dead Head. For more show dates please visit the Garcia Project online.

NYS Music recently had the opportunity to speak with Mik and Kat from the Garcia Project about why they were drawn to Jerry’s music and where they find their inspiration.

What was it about Jerry’s music that drew you to it, specifically?

Kat: I think the thing that initially drew me into his music was the affect it had on people. I kept meeting these folks that seemed to be living life with a different perspective. They were seemingly positive, carefree, and excited about life. It was like the old saying goes, when you see someone having a good time, “I’ll have whatever they are having.”  I had to look into this music and community and see what it was all about.

Mik: I found the Jerry Garcia Band in 1988 and fell in love with the song choices that the band played and the incredible, beautiful guitar tone that Jerry had. Jerry had a way of showing emotion through his guitar playing and singing that I just never heard from anyone else. Also, the warmth of the fans at a Jerry Garcia Band show was infectious. It was a place where you could go and relax, let your hair down, talk to other like-minded folks and enjoy the music. There has not been anything else quite like those experiences.

When were you introduced to Jerry Garcia’s music – his or the Dead’s, what circumstances surrounded it?

Kat: Before I was a Deadhead, I met someone who mistook me for one. I had no idea what a Deadhead was and not very familiar with The Grateful Dead’s music. So, of course, this made me curious. I inquired and they brought me to a show soon after. I felt at home right away and started dancing immediately. This is not only unusual when a person doesn’t know the music, but i had not really danced in public before to any music. It was a freeing experience. I was in awe at people’s kindness, openness, and concern for each other as strangers. A very eye-opening night, seeing for the first time that society could be different from I knew it to be.

Mik: I listened to The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles throughout High School in the late eighties. In 1987, right after I graduated, I went to see The Grateful Dead with my HS friends in Rochester, NY. It was at Silver Stadium and the ride there was filled with anticipation! When we hit Rochester, I saw a sea of people dressed every kind of way, in every kind of color. We parked and walked around and talked with everyone that we could and eventually went into the show. I saw a huge speaker system with scaffolding on the end of the field and a huge american flag tarp was laid on the field (to cover the wires, etc?) They were pumping Sgt. Peppers on the pa system and everyone inside was just having a blast! I made my way up to the front of the stage, past the flying marshmallows and frisbees. I really thought to myself that “The Grateful Dead” were not a band that performed, it was much more than that….we were all part of the show. Then the band came out and opened the show rocking. I was hooked.

Along with Jerry, who would you say are your most significant influences?

Kat: It’s hard for me to narrow that list down to any reasonable degree. I take my inspiration from all singers with soul, past and present, from all genres of music. When I am studying a new song, I listen to every version of that song I can find. I search for every person singing it on YouTube and  I look for the current really good bands and singers out there and see what they’ve done with it. I always find and listen to the original version, if it’s something Jerry covered. Then, I take that inspiration and knowledge and figure out what my take on it is.

Mik: Hmmmmm. Let me think about that.

Why did you decide to focus on JG instead of the GD as a whole?GarciaProject-2

Kat: The Jerry Garcia Band music always felt special.  It touches hearts, soothes souls, and eases minds. Manifesting love and good vibes together is so important. People come in weary and leave rejuvenated by gathering together and helping create the community, and the music. I feel so grateful that i got to experience these shows, the community, and the consciousness while Jerry was still around. If we can create an atmosphere and play this music so that people can still gather and hear it, and be even a little bit as happy and inspired as we were with Jerry’s band, then it’s a mission worth pursuing.

Thanks for asking 🙂 <3

Mik: I had been playing Grateful Dead music for years. I never really tried putting together a band that played Jerry Garcia Band stuff…It was kind of like a holy grail to me. Once we started down this path it became apparent I needed to perform this music and people needed to be a part of it as well. There are new fans that never got to see The Jerry Garcia Band and older fans who miss it as much as I do. If we all get together and make a show happen, it is an amazing experience. Currently, we are performing actual classic set lists (shows) from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. We do the same songs and perform with the inspiration from listening to the old shows. It’s not a note for note thing, but more of a feeling and vibe.

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