It ought to come as no real surprise that certain outfits are embracing the cover band concept and reaping rewards as a result. Consequently, there's a veritable cottage industry that flourishes via tributes to the Beatles (natch), Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin (led by the son of drummer John Bonham no less), and a whole host of others. In many cases, the original band is defunct, and now they, the tribute band, can recreate every note and serve as the next best thing. And why not? When bands like Journey, Yes, and Foreigner are finding new singers by scouring YouTube, it's a clear sign that the public is ready to accept new incarnations of the old.
Still, one has to credit Dark Star Orchestra with earning more than a hint of actual legitimacy. Keyboard player Rob Barraco performed with the Dead bassist Phil Lesh in his band Phil Lesh and Friends and also toured with the reunited band that went by the abbreviated name the Dead in 2002 and 2003. Likewise, guitarist Jeff Mattson has also played with Lesh, as well as onetime Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux. Singer Lisa Mackey claims to having seen over 200 Grateful Dead shows since 1973 while bassist Kevin Rosen says he's seen 93. Drummers Rob Koritz and Dino English swear their devotion as well.
Even so, the most essential factoid that contributes to their cred may well be the number of shows that Dark Star Orchestra itself has performed as a unit. Consider the fact that in their full 30 years of activity, up until the point that their visionary Jerry Garcia shed his mortal coil, the original Grateful Dead accumulated 2,318 concerts. When Dark Star play the Dead's hometown turf this April, they will actually eclipse that total. And they've accomplished that feat in only about half the time.
See also: Review of Dark Star Orchestra at Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale on February 26, 2013More »