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Michael Butler, Nick Swift, David Becker, Milt Reder, with Tyler Brooks looking on from the drums of Bearly Dead.

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BRATTLEBORO — Bearly Dead is not your typical Grateful Dead cover band.

They want you to take everything you know about the Grateful Dead and toss it out the window. Their fans describe them as a hard-rocking, loud, up-tempo, and “blow the doors off” kind of band.

The idea for Bearly Dead came about in January 2015, after Tyler Brooks, now the drummer, told a friend about the Grateful Dead’s 50th reunion shows. They were inspired to start their own Grateful Dead tribute band in Boston — focusing on 1960s Grateful Dead music. Bearly Dead was formed, and has evolved as the band’s repertoire expanded.

Bearly Dead is keeping the music alive in Boston and around New England when the band returns to Southern Vermont to play at The Stone Church at 8 p.m. Saturday. Since it’s the day before Halloween, the band is inviting everyone to come in costume for a chance to win great prizes.

“We’re definitely not a band filled with Deadheads, which is what I like about our band,” said Nick Swift, guitar and vocals. “The thing that makes us stand out from other Grateful Dead bands is we don’t try to recreate that sound. We’d rather play like ourselves; we are a rock band which just happens to play Grateful Dead tunes.”

He continues, “We have a rule that we break from time to time, if the Dead touched it — we can play it. We do a lot of Dead but there are other songs that the Dead played, in the same vein. Our approach is often, to make people examine their Grateful Dead biases. We play songs that we know people hate but we know they’re good songs, and maybe the hate wasn’t deserved. For example, we play ‘Corrina’ and lots of people hate that song, but when we play it they begin to love it.”

When asked what it was like during the last year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, the musicians say it was hard on live music and the loss of income was hard on the band.

“I’m ecstatic to play music again and everyone in the band is,” Swift said. “We missed it so much, we need to express ourselves and be creative.”

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When reached by email, David Becker, on bass and vocals, said, “In some ways it’s almost like joining your first band all over again. After a year of exclusively playing with no one and to no one in the same room, it’s a strong re-validation of the choice I made to pursue life as a performer.”

Tyler Brooks, on drums and vocals said in an email, “It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to play music again.”

Bearly Dead brings a different roster of musicians to each show. Musicians at The Stone Church will include: Nick Swift on guitar/vocals; Jeff Vetstein on guitar/vocals; Michael Butler on vocals; David Becker on bass/vocals; Justin Lopes on keyboard and Brian Sayers on drums.

“Being able to play shows again in a venue that is taking everything seriously — we really appreciate it. The Stone Church is doing a great job making sure the bands are safe and the audience is safe. They are proactive and The Stone Church in Vermont is a gold standard for that, which is great,” Swift said.

Tickets are available at Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The bar and food service is outdoors and will be available starting at 7 p.m.

COVID-19Proof of a vaccine or negative test taken within 48 hours is required for entry at The Stone Church. Masks are required while indoors. The food and beverage service is available in a new tent outdoors.

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