This Memorial Day Weekend, the Dark Star Orchestra continues its seemingly endless run of shows with two stops at the New Jersey Shore. On Friday, they are scheduled to perform at the Tradewinds Nightclub in Sea Bright, NJ. The music starts at 9pm and tickets are available through DSOtix for a mere $15. After a festival appearance in NY on Saturday, DSO returns to Jersey to play the Music Pier in Ocean City. Sunday’s show, which takes place outdoors on the boardwalk stage, starts at 7pm with tickets available through Ticketmaster for $20.
The Dark Star Orchestra has transformed the cliché of a “cover band” into a fine art. The band began in 1997 as a conglomerate of various Chicago-based bands. Originally a local band, performing primarily at Martyrs' club, their fan base has grown steadily through continuous touring. The premise of the band is to use actual setlists and equipment from specific Grateful Dead concerts as the framework for their own interpretation. Concerts are reproduced in their entirety and diehard fans, some of whom attended the original, have the chance to guess the date, which is revealed toward the end. When time allows, the band plays miscellaneous Dead-related filler as an encore.
Each member of the Dark Star Orchestra plays a specific role in recreating the experience of a Grateful Dead concert. "What we offer is sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978 or whenever," says keyboardist Scott Larned. The band has played with a who’s who of guests including Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman from Phish, Billy Payne from Little Feat, violin legend Vassar Clements and, from the Dead family, Tom Constanten, Vince Welnick and most recently Bob Weir.
These New Jersey shows come at the beginning of a summer tour that takes the Dark Star Orchestra throughout the Northeast (VT, NJ, NY, RI, NH, PA), Midwest (OH, MI, MN, IL, WI, MO) and West (OR, CO). The tour ends September 1 in MD at which point the band will join up with the Jam Grass tour for more fall dates. A full listing of shows can be found in the DSO website.
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