Daniel Donato Plays Jerry Garcia’s Alligator Guitar Sitting In With Greensky Bluegrass At Dark Star Jubilee

Fiddler John Mailander also made a guest appearance with GSBG and Holly Bowling at the festival in Thornville, Ohio on Sunday.

By Scott Bernstein May 28, 2024 11:15 am PDT

Greensky Bluegrass featuring keyboardist Holly Bowling — a.k.a. 6reensky — were the penultimate performers at Dark Star Orchestra‘s Dark Star Jubilee music festival on Sunday (May 26). Daniel Donato was one of the jamgrass act’s two special guests at the festival held at Thornville, Ohio’s Legend Valley and ripped it up on Jerry Garcia‘s famed Alligator guitar for his collaboration with GSBG.

The 1957 maple-neck Fender Stratocaster gifted by Graham Nash to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was among the axes belonging to Garcia and GD bandmate Bob Weir brought to Dark Star Jubilee by the Grateful Guitars Foundation. The stage-played gear was on display at the festival and VIPs were able to take photos with the instruments. Alligator was Jerry Garcia’s main instrument for several years in the early 1970s.


6reensky fittingly kicked off their set at the Grateful Dead-themed festival with a cover of “Feel Like A Stranger.” The band then played “Worry For You” off their latest full-length studio album, 2022’s Stress Dreams. Staple “In Control” came next followed by “Entirely Mine” and “Solstice,” two songs from GSBG and Bowling’s recently released The Iceland Sessions EP.

The ensuing “Courage For The Road” featured special guest John Mailander on fiddle. Mailander, a member of Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers was on hand at Dark Star Jubilee to perform with the Sam Grisman Project. It was then back to The Iceland Sessions for “Born Again” before Donato emerged with Alligator in hand to add to Stress Dreams cut “Give A Shit.”

The guitarist was introduced by GSBG dobroist Anders Beck who saluted him for putting his own cosmic twist on country music in the same way Greensky aims to bring their own spin to bluegrass. Donato wailed away on Alligator during his “Give A Shit” solo as the band and their guest extended the song to nearly 10 minutes.


Greensky Bluegrass and Holly Bowling went it alone to continue the set with “Murder Of Crows.” Then they played “Distracted,” the final song remaining off The Iceland Sessions, ahead of the well-jammed “Don’t Lie” finale.

Listen to the full set below with a nugs.net subscription or head to nugs.net to watch video.

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Set: Feel Like A Stranger, Worry For You, In Control, Entirely Mine, Solstice, Courage For The Road[1], Born Again, Give A Shit[2], Murder Of Crows, Distracted, Don’t Lie

  • [1] – with John Mailander on fiddle
  • [2] – with Daniel Donato on guitar

Show Notes: Holly Bowling on keys for entire set.

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