One day in 1997, two Dead Head musicians were ruminating about life without Jerry Garcia and simultaneously came up with the same idea: “Let’s recreate a Grateful Dead show.” Around forty people came down to Martyrs’ in Chicago on November 11, 1997, to hear the brand-new Dark Star Orchestra’s rendition of the Dead’s show of 10/8/81. They’d planned it as a four-week experiment; ninety folks showed up the second week, then two hundred, then a 400-person sell-out…so it seemed like a good idea to keep going.
Since the idea behind the “Orchestra” part of Dark Star Orchestra is that this is a tribute to a body of music, lots of people have come and gone over the years—one co-founder, Scott Larned, passed on in 2005, the other, John Kadlecik, went off to play with the Dead’s Phil Lesh & Bob Weir in Furthur. But DSO keeps rolling, to the point that they’ve played well over 2,600 shows – 120,000 people in just the past year — and incredibly enough, are looking at an approaching 20th anniversary. This calls for celebration.
Like the Dead, DSO has developed an extraordinary relationship with its audience, and to honor the long strange trip they’ve shared, DSO will offer, for the first time at regular shows, beginning with their spring tour, a VIP Soundcheck and Poster Signing package. Participants will get exclusive pre-show access to the venue, a chance to hear the soundcheck, meet the band and get their 20th anniversary posters signed, a souvenir laminate and sticker…and more. Only 25 such tickets will be offered to each show.
Anyone who has seen – and heard – DSO will tell you this is not a “cover” band. It’s on a higher level, and you just have to be there to get it…kinda like the band whose music they play.
Written by Dennis McNally, former publicist of the Grateful Dead