The Dark Star Orchestra, clockwise from lower right: John Kadlecik (guitar); Lisa Mackey (vocals); Scott Larned (keys); Kevin Rosen (bass); Dino English (drums); Rob Koritz (drums); Rob Eaton (guitar). Their Indianapolis show will be DSO's 1,180th performance.
Dark Star Orchestra, hailing from Chicago, began in 1997 when John Kadlecik and Scott Larned had a concept for a different kind of Grateful Dead cover band. Kadlecik explained that, "The idea was to get a band together where each musician would play a particular band member. We quickly realized that it was easier to play an entire set as one musician."
The majority of the seven members of Dark Star Orchestra have played in Dead-tribute bands in the past; none stuck like this one. In total, the DSO band members have seen over 1,000 original Dead shows. "It is a great privilege and honor, as well as a huge responsibility," said Dino English who appears in DSO as Mickey Hart. "We feel fortunate to be doing what we are doing and appreciate the response we have gotten. We know when we are doing it right from the way the audience responds to us. It's all quite amazing."
The difference between DSO and other cover bands is that they do not just perform a few Grateful Dead songs; they actually play an entire set chosen from the 2,500 that the Dead performed over their 30-year career. Their sets typically reach up to three or four hours. Kadlecik and English explained that DSO selects which set-list to play depending on what has been performed in that particular city before; for example, if they played a late 80s show the last time they were in town, they may choose a set list from the mid 70s. Both emphasized the importance of variety, which explains why the band interprets a different Dead show each time they perform. The only catch is that the audience has to wait until the end of DSO's performance to find out the original date and venue.
The band's stage layout is based on the year of the Grateful Dead show they are performing. DSO even adapts their phrasing, voice arrangements and specific musical equipment for the correct era in which they perform.
According to English, "We want to take music to a new place while respecting the history of where it came from... homage to the past while paying tribute to the future. And even though the songs may sound a little cliché now, they still ring true."
For more information visit: darkstarorchestra.net