Using entire shows from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring as a launching pad, Dark Star Orchestra recreates the original song for song performance set list for an entirely new generation of Deadheads. Dark Star Orchestra performs Grateful Dead classics in the same way that an orchestra interprets music of classical composers. The composer spirit is derived and channeled as the players capture the excitement and innovation of the original performances and compositions. Touring nationwide for nine years to the tune of 1300 shows since forming, the band's determined commitment to 'raising the Dead' has drawn national media attention.
"Fanatical attention to detail." – Rolling Stone
"Dark Star Orchestra takes its act to a level of detail that befits a rock band famous for its fanatical following." – Associated Press
"The hottest Grateful Dead tribute act. A cover band for people who don't like cover bands."
– The Washington Post
"There are cover bands. There are tribute bands. And then there's Dark Star Orchestra."
– The Denver Post
Critics aren't the only ones singing Dark Star Orchestra's praises. Five original members of the Grateful Dead have played alongside DSO and have had this to say:
"A couple of times when I had my back to John (Kadlecik) onstage and he started to sing, I had this weird sense that it was Jerry." – Bob Weir, Grateful Dead co-founder/vocalist/guitarist
"Playing with Dark Star Orchestra is something that feels just exactly like it felt when I was playing with the Grateful Dead." – Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay, Grateful Dead vocalist, frequent DSO guest
Made up of Lisa Mackey (Donna Jean Godchaux), Dino English (Bill Kreutzmann), Rob Koritz (Mickey Hart), Kevin Rosen (Phil Lesh), Rob Eaton (Bob Weir), Rob Barracco (keyboards) and a revolving cast of friends, Dark Star Orchestra does not try to match Grateful Dead live songs note for note. The band instead seeks the individual style for each era of their performances and offers their own interpretations and improvisations of a group also famed and loved for their interpretations and improvisation. Anything more formulaic would quickly dispel the free spirit embodied in the music.
Precision is king 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 every 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 achieves is a continuation of the spirit of what has now become over forty years of the Grateful Dead's timeless music.