FOLLOWING A DARK STAR ; Grateful Dead Tribute Band Plays Live on the Levee Friday

By Lynch, Bill | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), July 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

FOLLOWING A DARK STAR ; Grateful Dead Tribute Band Plays Live on the Levee Friday


Lynch, Bill, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


WANT TO GO? Dark Star Orchestra WHERE: Haddad Riverfront Park WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Friday COST: Free INFO: 304-348-8014, ext. 105 or www.liveontheleveecharleston.com

Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra doesn't try to play every Grateful Dead song note for note. The band, best known for recreating the music and the concerts of the iconic rock band, believe that exact reproduction is beside the point.

For DSO, who brings its big batch of groovy music to Live on the Levee Friday, it's more about being true to the spirit of the music.

"We go for the arrangements of the songs as they are, but there's a lot of leeway in the framework," drummer Dino English explained. "We're all familiar with the basic layout of the song, but there's a lot of room to improvise."

Everybody seems fine with that, including the surviving members of the Grateful Dead, most of whom DSO has performed with or shared the stage with over the last 15 years.

After Jerry Garcia died in 1995 and effectively ended the group's epic 30-year-run, the remaining members of the band continued on - occasionally together in one configuration or another, or just as often separately - but a kind of void was left.

The Grateful Dead was more than a band. It was a culture.

As a musical act, the group never amassed more than a few actual radio hits, but devoted fans of the band, called "deadheads," didn't buy a lot of records. They loved the shows.

Deadheads traveled gypsy-style with the band, following in caravans of beat up cars and camping out in parking lots. It wasn't unusual for a deadhead to see the band more than 100 times, and the Grateful Dead encouraged fans to tape shows, which were duplicated and openly sold or traded.

After Garcia died, a lot of that came to a halt.

Dark Star Orchestra arose from a group of Chicago-based tribute bands.

"We were all big Grateful Dead fans," English explained. "We came from that place as a starting point."

English, who joined DSO a year and a half after it's formation in 1997, said he'd seen The Grateful Dead about 20 times while the band was still active.

"But I'm one of the more baby deadheads. I'm 43 and I saw them for the first time in 1991, but others saw them back in the 1970s."

The group was founded by John Kadlecik and Scott Larned. …

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