Dark Star Orchestra is a Grateful Dead tribute band.
They’re not your typical Grateful Dead tribute band though.
Instead of performing Grateful Dead’s biggest hits, they’ll perform complete Grateful Dead shows. Dark Star Orchestra recreates historic Grateful Dead concerts and they do so song-by-song and in the original order.
DSO also does its best to mimic the Dead’s arrangements, phrasing, and musical equipment. Of course, they don’t recreate the Grateful Dead concerts note-for-note—that’s beyond the scope of every musician.
Now, this isn’t the recipe for every Dark Star Orchestra concert but it is for most performances. In the shows where they don’t copy a Grateful Dead concert DSO will use Dead songs to design their own set.
Either way, Dark Star Orchestra manages to create a unique experience that both honors the Grateful Dead and showcases the amazing talent of the band members.
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How Long Has Dark Star Orchestra Been Performing?
Dark Star Orchestra formed in 1997 after John Kadlecik and Scott Larned contacted one another. During their very first interaction the two musicians learned that each had the idea of performing complete Grateful Dead shows.
Neither man is currently with the band…
…Larned died of a heart attack on April 24, 2005. He was eventually replaced by Rob Barraco.
…Kadlecik left Dark Star Orchestra in 2009 to join Further, a band made up of Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, two original members of the Grateful Dead.
How Did The Band Get Its Name?
DSO is named after The Grateful Dead’s 1968 single, “Dark Star.” Ironically, the original single was just 2:44 but often used by The Dead to launch into long improvisation sessions.
“Dark Star” is one of the first classic Grateful Dead songs, one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, and Rolling Stone magazine’s 57th greatest guitar song of all time.
How Many Shows Has Dark Star Orchestra Performed?
Since forming in 1997, Dark Star Orchestra has performed more than 2,200 shows (that’s according to their web site). Some of those shows have not only been seen by members of the Grateful Dead, but members of the Grateful Dead have actually performed alongside the Dark Side Orchestra.
Dead members that have sat in with Dark Star Orchestra include Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann.
In 1998, Dark Star Orchestra was joined by Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman of Phish.
Who’s In Dark Star Orchestra?
There are more than 20 current and former members of the Dark Star Orchestra. The band’s current lineup consists of…
Rob Barraco – Keyboards, Vocals
Rob Eaton – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Dino English – Drums
Rob Koritz – Drums
Lisa Mackey – Vocals
Jeff Mattson – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Skip Vangelas – Bass, Vocals
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How Often Does Dark Star Orchestra Tour?
It’s not uncommon for the Dark Star Orchestra to perform 200 times a year and launch six to eight tours.
Dark Star Orchestra is known for routing its tour by seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) and coasts (East and West). They usually hold a “Cosmic New Year’s Run” too.