Offering a continually evolving artistic outlet within the Grateful Dead’s musical canon, members of Dark Star Orchestra seek out the unique style of each performance era and offer their own interpretations and improvisations at each show. Using entire set lists from the Grateful Dead’s decades of touring as a launching pad, Dark Star Orchestra recreates song for song performances straight from the set list of these historic shows.
Made up of Jeff Mattson (Jerry Garcia), Lisa Mackey (Donna Jean Godchaux), Dino English (Bill Kreutzmann), Rob Koritz (Mickey Hart), Skip Vangelas (Phil Lesh), Rob Eaton (Bob Weir) and Rob Barraco (multiple keyboardists), Dark Star Orchestra does not try to match Grateful Dead live songs note for note. Anything so formulaic would quickly dispel the free spirit embodied in the music.
While faithful improvisation is pinnacle, precision is of equal importance with DSO, which position the stage plot based on the year of Grateful Dead show to be performed, adapting phrasing, voice arrangements, and even arranges specific musical equipment for the various eras of Dead music performed. At the end of each performance, the band announces the date and venue where the original show just covered took place. Dark Star Orchestra dips into every incarnation of the Dead, so most fans can “see” shows that happened long before they were born.
Dark Star Orchestra isn’t a cover band. Its shows are not even meant as tributes. What Dark Star Orchestra tirelessly strives for and achieves is a continuation of the spirit of what has now become over forty years of the Grateful Dead’s timeless music.
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