Rob Barraco, Dark Star Orchestra keyboardist and vocalist, said there is a famous Grateful Dead line penned by Robert Hunter in the song “Scarlett Begonias” that goes: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” The upcoming Dark Star Orchestra performance in Wilmington, he said, just may be someone’s way of seeing the light.
Dark Star Orchestra will recreate a show from the vast Grateful Dead canon at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, Wednesday, Aug. 13.
“Our mission is to continue the Grateful Dead experience,” Barraco said during a July 29 phone interview. “We will take a specific show from the band’s 35-year history, use that set list from that show and play it in the style from that era with corresponding song arrangements because it all morphed over time.”
Dark Star Orchestra meticulously recaptures the Grateful Dead’s sound and will even perform using the same instruments and stage setup as was used during the show they intend to recreate.
“After that,” Barraco said, “the whole thing is improvised because Grateful Dead music is all about improvisation.”
Dave Weissman, Dark Star Orchestra publicist, explained the Grateful Dead probably never played one of its songs the same twice.
“Each musician in Dark Star Orchestra is so talented to be able to improvise but also stay accurately faithful to the Grateful Dead’s music and what they were all about,” Weissman said during a July 29 phone interview.
Since 1997, Dark Star Orchestra has played more than 2,200 recreations worldwide, and once performed 250 shows in a single year. As a testament to its mission, the band has been joined on stage by every living member of the Grateful Dead — guitarist and lead vocalist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux and keyboardist Tom Constanten — and widely acclaimed jam band musicians Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman of Phish and Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule.
Concert night, the doors to Greenfield Lake Amphitheater will open at 4:20 p.m. and Dark Star Orchestra takes the stage at 5 p.m.
“It’s a four-hour-long show,” Weissman said. “They play for 90 minutes, and then the second set is close to two hours; but because you’re taken on a journey, the experience feels timeless.”
Barraco believes Dark Star Orchestra has experienced wide reception because Grateful Dead’s music continues to speak to people of all ages.
“I see people who are about 70 years old who are still coming out to the shows,” he said. “But I look in the audience and there are 15- and 16-year-olds out there and I think it is because anyone can gravitate toward this music. It sparks something in your head.”
Barraco said this show at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is the perfect opportunity to experience what was the Grateful Dead journey.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.greenfieldlakeamphitheater.com