Thursday, October 06, 2005

Arbiter talks about DSO

From Arbiter Online:

Dark Star Orchestra tours to the beat of the Grateful Dead
By M. Grace Lucas / Editor in Chief


Dark Star Orchestra, the nation’s premier Grateful Dead cover band, is returning to Boise’s Big Easy Concert House on Oct. 8.
And what a long strange trip it’s been for the band since their previous Boise show. After nearly three years on and off of the road and the death of a founding member, DSO is still bringing one more Saturday night to Deadheads.
All right now, I admit that you can’t swing a Dead china cat sunflower in downtown Boise without hitting a bar that has a generic cover band.
But DSO offers something special. Most of the band’s shows consist of an authentic set list played live by the Grateful Dead.
Founded in the late 1990s, DSO has become a staple of he jam band scene. Many attribute part of their rapid rise in popularity to Scott Larned, DSO’s keyboard player who passed away earlier this year.
DSO Drummer Dino English told The Arbiter Larned was a founding member of the band and an integral part of the shows.
“He was a brother that we miss dearly,” English said. The death eerily parallels the Grateful Dead’s loss of three keyboard players. But Dino said he thinks that is merely a coincidence.
In the past, Larned was quoted as saying that playing Dead set lists had become, “second nature.” English says though playing is different without Larned, the music still feels natural.
“We’ve been immersed in this for so long now, it just kind of comes out of us,” English said.
In Boise on April 7, 2002, DSO covered the Dead’s April 14, 1978 show.
From my own recollection, the show was packed with goodies like ‘Tennessee Jed,’ and ‘It’s All Over Now.’ The encore yielded an excellent cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Lovelight.’

That show, as with many DSO shows, caused a ripple effect, bringing further prestige to a band now enjoying a high time.
Also working to the band’s advantage is the fact that this time around they are not competing against an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ for the attention of Boise’s niche neo-cruncher market.
The episode, also aired on April 7, 2002, featured the band Phish defending the use of medical marijuana. Many local Deadheads cited ‘The Simpsons’ as the reason they stayed home the last time DSO was in town. But, it should be stated that the Phish episode was aired at the Big Easy just before DSO took the stage that night.
For this Saturday’s show, English said that female singer Lisa Mackey will most likely be joining the band on stage. This may provide clues as to from what era of the Dead DSO will pull a set list.
Mackey takes the place of Donna Godchaux, a female singer briefly included for Dead shows in the 1970s.
But English is quick to add, “Last time [DSO played in Boise] we did a ‘78 show. We try to switch it up from the last time. So it’s definitely not going to be like a mid-70’s set list.”
Despite my pleading for further details, little else was said about which specific set list DSO will recreate this Saturday.
Fans are never told which Dead show DSO has chosen until the first note is played.
English said no matter what Dead set list they play, DSO will just try to give fans something sugaree this weekend.
“We just kind of try to capture the vibe of the evening and we go for [that show’s] arrangements of the songs,” English said.
And with little distraction this weekend, you don’t have to ask if DSO will continue to keep the chain unbroken and keep the sage and spirit one of the greatest stories ever told.
Believe it or not, anyone who ever loved the Grateful Dead, The Dead, The Other Ones, or any other incarnation of the real thing, needs to get a ticket for the next best thing.

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