Dark Star Orchestra will recreate a show from the vast Grateful Dead canon at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, Wednesday, Aug. 13.
The Grateful Dead was integral to the psychedelic jazz and rock soundtrack for the 1960s San Francisco Bay Area counterculture scene, promoting avant-garde music, art and thinking. The band dissolved in 1995 following the death of guitarist and front man Jerry Garcia. Today the legacy and music of the Grateful Dead are kept alive by DSO.
“Our mission is to continue the Grateful Dead experience,” said Dark Star Orchestra keyboardist and vocalist Rob Barraco 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.”
The Dark Star Orchestra meticulously recaptures the Grateful Dead sound and will even perform using the same instruments and stage setup as was used during the show they intend to recreate.
“After that,” said Barraco, “the whole thing is improvised because Grateful Dead music is all about improvisation.”
The Grateful Dead probably never played one of its songs the same twice, “Ever,” said Dark Star Orchestra publicist Dave Weissman during a July 29 phone interview. “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.”
Since 1997, DSO has played more than 2,200 recreations worldwide and once performed 250 shows in a single year. As a testament to the Dark Star Orchestra 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,” said Weissman. “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 the Dark Star Orchestra has experienced wide reception because the 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.”
To those who may have missed seeing the Grateful Dead in their lifetime, or have never listened to the band’s music, Barraco believes this show at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is the perfect opportunity to experience what was the Grateful Dead journey.
“There’s a great Grateful Dead line penned by Robert Hunter in “Scarlet Begonias,” Barraco said. “‘Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.’ Maybe this will be someone’s way to see the light.”
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.greenfieldlakeamphitheater.com