DARK STAR ORCHESTRA TAKING US BACK IN TIME

09.23.76 | Cameron Indoor Stadium | Duke University | Durham, NC
Set 1: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Minglewood Blues, Ramble On Rose, Cassidy, Brown Eyed Women, Lazy Lightning > Supplication, Crazy Fingers > El Paso, It Must Have Been The Roses, Music Never Stopped

Set 2: Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower > Looks Like Rain, Eyes Of The World > Samson & Delilah, High Time, Dancing In The Streets > Wharf Rat > Drums > The Other One > Morning Dew


Photo by Black Jack
Hey there everybody, Madeline Modeliste here once again reporting from Athens. It dawned on me that many of my reviews have taken place at the Georgia Theater, and I have yet to give a detailed description of what the joint looks like, yet I give many details on what Mad Modeliste looks like. And in this review bout the Dark Star Orchestra I will once again overlook a detailed description about what that theatre of Georgia looks like in favor of a detailed description of yours truly, because that is still much more important.

I was wearing a black skirt with black stockings, black shoes, and you guessed it, a cute black shirt. My skin is rather fair (even though I’m not) so the shocking contrast of colors had boys heads swiveling round and round to get glimpses of me. Which was cool and all for a little bit, but after a while it began to get annoying.

When I was just a wee high school girl, I loved me some Grateful Dead, I went and saw them every chance I had. And when I did not have a chance to seem them, I somehow made it out so that I did get that chance to go see them. Them’s were the days, The Dead moved me (spiritually, not literally. Literally, I moved myself to Athens, packed up all my belongings in my car, drove it on into town and moved myself- literally). Spiritually The Dead always moved me to a happy place, a mythological place, a place that didn’t seem real at all- but seemed right. That is why I kept on going to see them. So when I heard about the Dark Star Orchestra coming into to town, obviously I was curious. Curiously I was obvious.

I moseyed my way in to the hard wood floored bar area of the theatre. Smelling patchouli, seeing folks spinning in danceable ways. The show had already started. I hadn’t missed much. I saw seven folks up on stage. Not one of which I recognized. But their music, their sound, their songs, I was very familiar with. The sounds I heard I was more familiar with than my own phone number. The music was that of the Grateful Dead.

Yes I know, you know, and the girl down the street with the funny walk knows about Grateful Dead cover bands. Folks, I must warn you, this is not like other Grateful Dead cover bands. If you close your eyes they aren’t even a Grateful Dead cover band at all. They are the Grateful Dead. It was striking. Folks around me began to fill me in a bit on how these folks- these Dark Star Orchestra folkies pick a Dead show and cover it as closely to the original as possible. And I could dig it. I saw what they mean. I meant what they saw. I felt it as I closed my pretty eyes. Garcia’s guitar made circles through my cranium. The music got a bit spacey and intense. I needed some air. So I worked my way outside. There were kids in their seventies garb, many with Duke hats, with their fingers pointing in the air asking for miracles. I shook my head, but I couldn’t shake what I was seeing. Yes it truly was the seventies. And I truly was at Duke University. September 27th, 1976, just outside Duke Cameron Indoor stadium. The music was so much like that of the original Grateful Dead show, that I found myself at the original show. I heard a kid in a homemade tie-dyed Duke T-shirt talking to a kid in a University of North Carolina hat saying, “one of these days we’re going to beat you, and it’s going to be sweet, man.”

But what was really sweet was the “It Must Have Been The Roses” that the band broke into, that pulled me back in through the Georgia Theatre er- Cameron indoor stadium doors. Garcia’s voice was like lazy left out butter- smooth, tasty and good with just about anything. It brought tears to many in the audience. The whole thing was real trippy, man. Donna Jean was up there dancing, Bobby on guitar, Phil’s off kilter bass patterns...I was totally into it, till a modern day UGA kid asked me if I had a light. “What the hell was that all about?!” I was so in tune with that 1970’s night, and then this kid had to throw me off my time traveling magic carpet. And to make matters worse, he was just asking me because he was trying to pick me up, not because he needed a light. I saw a friend of his bust out a lighter and light a cigarette as I lit his. He then proceeds to tell me his name, asks for mine, tells me he thinks I am pretty. Shit, as if I didn’t already know this, well I knew I was pretty and I knew my name, didn’t know his, but didn’t care to know his, either, what I really wanted to know was what song the band was about to break into, not any of this immature pick me up bull shat-shit. Took me a lil while, but eventually I was right back there in 1976 North Carolina. The band played on with all the pleasure and crispness of a mid 70’s Dead show. Most in the crowd weren’t born at the time that this show was originally played, but maybe that’s what made it so special, these kids got a chance to feel what it may have been like to be in that tiny basketball stadium back when The Dead was doing their thing.

I for one would dig catching these cats again. You never know if you are going to get a 60’s Pigpen show, or a Donna Jean show, or an acid test show...it’s all a surprise till the music starts.

As I left the show, people’s fingers where up in the air for a “miracle” to the next show. I got a miracle for you; I’ll smile at you. Not that my smile wasn’t showing throughout the night- very much on the contrary- my smile was all lit up because of Dark Star Orchestra’s incredibly, suspiciously, convincing replication of September 27th, 1976.

In the spirit of recent Ms. Madeline Modeliste write-ups, I decided my night was not over. There had to be a second band I could go and investigate. Without discussing it with my brain, my feet took me right over to the lil hidden away bar known as “The Watering Hole.” The music blared out on to the sidewalks and invited me on in. I did accept the invite, though I had no time to RSVP, I stumbled through the doors. The band that played was a local band, Fark-a-nookin. Three boys on stage trying to play blues-rock. The kids were actually up there on stage learning their instruments. I have no problem with kids learning their instruments, just don’t do it on stage, in front of me, and my blessed ears. At this point in the night, they had scared just about everyone out of the bar, except for me and the poor bartenders. Far-a-nookin was far from grooving. And I do not mean that in a polite way.

On an Athens Scale of 5, Dark Star Orchestra got a 3, which ain’t bad at all for out of town folk. 3 slices of pizza pie from Somebody’s Pizza (which is not around anymore, but was when the show took place).

Far-a-nookin got 1. They only got 1 because they are out of Athens. One crummy extra side of nasty ass mayonnaise from the very un-local joint McDonald’s. Better luck next time, boys.

Madeline Modeliste
JamBase | Athens
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[Published on: 11/5/02]

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