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Published: 2012/01/03

Dark Star Orchestra Celebrates Three Decades of the Grateful Dead

Noted Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra celebrated New Year’s with three-set shows at Montclair, NJ’s Wellmont Theater on December 30 and 31. The group offered a range of material during their six sets: Dark Star Orchestra created an original setlist of Dead tunes on December 30 and nodded to three very different eras of Grateful Dead history on December 31. The band’s December 30 shows also featured an acoustic opening set, consisting of “Oh Boy,” “Rosa Lee McFall,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Black Muddy River,” “Big Iron,” “Strange Man,” “Yes She Do, No She Don’t” and “Deep Elem Blues.”

In a unique twist, instead of covering a complete Grateful Dead show, on New Year’s Eve proper Dark Star Orchestra recreated portions of shows from three different decades. The band opened with a single-set show the Dead played in Napa, CA in 1969; though Dark Star Orchestra shied away from the Dead’s 1960s shows early on, the ensemble has tackled the group’s early years more regularly since the addition of keyboardist Rob Barraco and lead guitarist Jeff Mattson. From there, Dark Star moved into the ‘70s to perform the Dead’s first set at Santa Barbara CA’s University Of California from 1978. The performance was filled with standard first set material from that era of Dead history. Finally, the group wrapped things up with the second set of a classic Dead show from East Troy, WI’s Alpine Valley in 1989. When midnight hit during set three, the band broke character for a countdown and then continued on with “Eyes of the World.”

Dark Star Orchestra will kick off an extensive winter tour at Minneapolis, MN’s First Avenue on February 1.

Here’s a look at DSO’s Wellmont shows

December 31

Set I: 2/21/69 – Dream Bowl, Vallejo CA – Friday
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl ; Doin’ That Rag ; Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Turn On Your Love Light ;

Set II: 6/4/78 – Campus Stadium – University Of California, Santa Barbara CA – Sunday Set 1
Bertha > Good Lovin’ ; Dire Wolf ; Me And My Uncle > Big River; Brown Eyed Women ; Looks Like Rain ; Tennessee Jed ; Jack Straw

Set III: 7/18/89 – Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI – Tuesday Set 2
Sugar Magnolia > Scarlet Begonias ; Man Smart (Woman Smarter) ; Eyes Of The World > Drums > Space > China Doll ; Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude ; Throwing Stones ~ Sunshine Daydream

E: Quinn The Eskimo

December 30

Set I [acoustic]: Oh Boy ; Rosa Lee McFall ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Black Muddy River ; Big iron ; Strange Man ; Yes She Do, No She Don’t ; Deep Elem Blues

Set II: Hell In A Bucket ; West L.A. Fadeaway ; Greatest Story Ever Told ; Loser (*) ; Passenger ; Waiting For A Miracle ; Feel Like A Stranger

Set III: Foolish Heart > Samson and Delilah ; Terrapin Station > Playing In The Band > drums > space > Wharf Rat > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider

E: Around & Around

(*) – Power outage during ‘Loser’

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