“The most talented and accomplished tribute band out there. Fanatical attention to detail.” – Rolling Stone
“As close as you’ll get to the Grateful Dead.”
– New Times Newspapers“One of the most durable and ingenious cover bands out there.”
– St. Paul Pioneer Press
“A cover band for people who don’t like cover bands.” – Washington Post
Using entire shows from the Grateful Dead’s decades of touring as a launching pad, Dark Star Orchestra recreates song for song performances straight from historic set lists. Not merely mimicking the Dead, DSO instead seeks the individual style of each era and offers its own interpretations and improvisations for a group famed and loved for their interpretations and improvisations.
Having toured worldwide to the tune of over 2000 shows, Dark Star Orchestra’s determined commitment to ‘raising the Dead’ has drawn them much critical acclaim.
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:
“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, Grateful Dead vocalist, frequent DSO guest
Made up of Jeff Mattson (lead guitar/vocals), Lisa Mackey (vocals), Dino English (drums), Rob Koritz (drums), Skip Vangelas (bass), Rob Eaton (rhythm guitar/vocals) and Rob Barraco (keyboards), Dark Star Orchestra does not try to match Grateful Dead live songs note for note. 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.