Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Here is some questions I answered for a Buffalo area publication.

Hope to see you soon,

Q: How often do you catch yourselves straying outside the boundaries of a given era’s style? I imagine it must be tempting and almost subconscious to play the big bombs of a late-era Bertha or the Lydian jams of Cassidy when you’re supposed to be coloring inside the lines of the early 70s.

A:  We stick to the arrangement of the time period but sometimes the arrangement we end up playing  is an educated guess from having played so many shows.  We encourage each other to listen to each  show but it's not a requirement. And daily time constraints dictate that we often can't listen to the whole show all the time.  We talk over arrangements right before we go on or even on stage but sometimes a detail will slip by all of us at which point we take a guess.  Our main concern is to play the best music we can for the audience that night.  ... However we see fit.  

Q: Buffalo has quite a pedigree in the history of the Dead. Do you honor that in a way that is different from how you might approach a gig in a town without so much history?

A: We love playing Buffalo because the fans have such a history with the Grateful Dead.  It's an enthusiastic crowd.  That synergy between audience and band propels us to play well most of the time.

Q: The term “psychedelic” gets tossed around rather cheaply but I think you guys have been in this long enough to have a deep appreciation for what it really means. What is it about Grateful Dead music that provides a platform for this experience and where else have you come across it?

A:  I think you are referring to the experience which occurs with this music that is hard to articulate.  Some call it "psychedelic", others call it the "x factor" or simply "it".   Many Grateful Dead fans have experienced "it" but usually in their own way ...although it may seem ( or may be) that everyone in a room is experiencing the same thing at the same time.  They just know they took part in something that happened which seems to encompass something larger than themselves.  It's both a communal and a private experience which results in the feeling of "having your mind blown".  It's the part that gives Grateful Dead music, experienced live, a bit of a spiritual experience.  Whole books have been written on trying to define what it is about GD music that causes this or why it happens.  I can just say "it" does happen but as always "it" can be elusive.  
    For us on stage, the music plays the band. We, the band, allow the music to take us over so that we may simply be a lightning rod for the energy that flows through us.  It has some elements of being possessed by a spirit greater than oneself.   (If you are a star wars fan, you might call it "the force").  It's a genuine feeling of the music simply playing through you.  Very little thought goes into it.  You actually want to not think too much because if you are being distracted by your thoughts, you aren't in the moment with the music.  If this feeling is happening on any level with the band, usually the audience feels it too.   

Q:  Jerry is famously quoted as saying “some people really go to pieces on the road.” What are some nuggets of Dead-style wisdom you guys have picked up from your time on the road?

A: I'd like to think we have learned from the mistakes from those who have travelled before us but as the song goes "it's so easy to slip".   Everyone deals with things in their own way the best they can.  Sometimes we are on top of the world, other times we are barely hanging on and all of us at different times are usually in different spaces mentally.   
    Being in the Dark Star Orchestra is something like being on a bucking bronco.  You try to enjoy the ride for as long as and as much as possible without getting thrown off.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Older DSO board recordings ok for archive

Just a public service announcement....

      Any recordings we aren't currently selling can be uploaded and shared through http://archive.org/index.php or any other site as long as they are offered for free.   If you have purchased some DSO downloads and you can't find them on sale here:


or here:


You may share them with others via the internet or any other way.  Nobody is going to come after you. please feel to share.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vending & Vendors - The Future Of Shakedown Street

 I'm going to preface this blog by saying this is not an official DSO statement.  These are just my thoughts. ... that's what blogs are for, right.

   Vending .... Back in the day, it was a fun part of the overall experience of going to shows.  A whole mini economy developed around the Grateful Dead where artists and food vendors, who were usually on tour, sold their art and tasty treats to the locals so they could get gas money to get to the next show, food, maybe hotel or camping, and of course, tickets.  We all know this.  Of course there was the bad apples who never went into the show and were just sucking off the scene, selling counterfeit tickets, and doing other illegal activities, ...which as we all know, caused problems.  For the most part, the venders were there to catch as many shows as possible and they used vending as a means to get to the next show.  Most of the major problems happened toward the last few years of the Grateful Dead when the whole scene was enormous.  They Grateful Dead were playing football stadiums where there could often be just as many outside a show as inside.  
    Vending in recent years has carried on of course.  Phish shows have quite a scene, Furthur, and Widespread Panic to a lesser degree.  I'm sure others exist.  The smaller scene makes it much less of a problem than in the early 90's which is nice.  It's nice because the colorful characters who gravitate to such a vending scene are a part of the whole concert experience.  Also, it's fun to go hang out with your friends during the day near the venue and get all the talking out of the way so you don't have to catch up by talking during the music (hint, hint).  At such times, it nice to have a cold soda pop or a grilled cheese to munch on.  
 So what am I getting at?.....  Vendors at DSO shows.

    Seeing a couple of vendors at a DSO show is not uncommon.  Sometimes even a small shakedown street will pop up on occasions.  It's been a little rough for vendors at times because they have been trying to sell to a crowd of hundreds  and not thousands or even ten's of thousands.   ... hard to make enough gas and food money to get to  the next show.  
   Lately, I've been noticing a few more venders which is leading me to believe there is beginning to be enough people where venders can sell enough to help supplement their travel expenses.  And I have to say, it's nice seeing the familiar face from night to night in the audience.  We are all making friends and that's a large part of what makes this music and scene so fun.  

O.K. ... So what I'm a getting at still?  ...

In my opinion... ALL VENDERS ARE WELCOME AT DARK STAR ORCHESTRA SHOWS .... as long as they are not doing those things they know the shouldn't be (illegal activities) and as long as you are not upsetting the particular venue where we are playing.  We want to be invited back!   
     I'm not a fan of the laughing gas venders.  You guys stay away.   You are not welcome.  Hippy crack creates a bad scene.  Mostly the people who sell gas balloons are no fans of the music and are just there to take advantage of the audience.
    Although I (nor any other band affiliate) can be responsible for your actions ... as far as I'm concerned, IF YOU ARE AT THE SHOW TO SEE THE MUSIC,  YOU ARE WELCOME TO VEND (at your own risk).   FOREMOST, BE RESPECTIVE TO THE VENUE, THE FOLKS WHO WORK AT THE VENUE, AND TO YOUR FELLOW SHOW GOER. ...and CLEAN UP YOUR TRASH.   DO THE RIGHT THING AS YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS.   
    We, the band, have no pull over what the venue allows so if they say pack it up, PACK IT UP.  Follow what ever the venue personnel  request so we can continue to come back.
 The cool thing about the size of our scene is, at this point, we can have a scene with out it being a major problem.  Have fun and take care of one another!  


FEEL FREE TO COPY AND PASTE THIS ANYWHERE ELSE or any other message board... but only if you copy the whole message.

another e - interview

    It seems I get the e - mail question interviews as I'm the only one who doesn't mind typing answers out. At least I don't get misquoted (which often happens to all of us) or misunderstood (which can happen if I'm not speaking clearly enough ... that happens too).
    This one is from the west coast tour ... Arcata’s Tri-City Weekly/Times Standard .... better late then never.

Q:First of all, thanks so much for your time and energy. We’re excited to welcome you back to Humboldt! How was the last show in Arcata for you?

A:We are definiatly looking forward to returning to Humbolt.  We love the energy of the area and feel right at home.  The last show was a good time and well attended.
I didn't play the last show as it was a one drummer early '70s show and it was Rob's turn to play (we switch off for the one drummer shows), but i had a really fun time as an audience member.  I'm lucky in that I get to be a fan of DSO from an audience perspective as well as playing in the band. 

Q:What would you say is the biggest change for you as a band since we last saw you?

A:  Our biggest change may have been becoming more of an international band.  We have played overseas but it has been awhile.   We played Japan for the first time, returned to Amsterdam, and played London for the first time.  We also got to do a little tour of Alaska which haven't done before.  ...lots of great adventures.  

Q:I’ve read that you recently did your first tours of Alaska and Japan — awesome! How were those shows and what sort of cultural fun did you all experience in Japan?

A:  Alaska was awesome!  Lot's of appreciative Deadheads up there who don't get to hear the music live very often.  The second show was outdoors and I thought it would be cold but I ended up playing in a short sleeve shirt, no problem.  I would definetly enjoy returning to Alaska.  
    Japan was awesome as well!  We were a little scared about the potential radiation danger but we were upwind and quite some distance away.  The country suffered a harsh blow and it was an honor to go and play for the Japenesse.  They have a welcoming commity as there is a core bunch who are really in to and knowledgeable about "jamband" music.  The festival was really well run and the have the bands of our style play the same stage every year (dating back to Phish in '99 I believe) so those who are fans of this style of music know where to go.  
    Culturely it was very interesting to see how the Japenesse respond to our music and music in general.  They are very polite listeners but get down at the same time.  I passed an acoustic stage at one point and I observed a huge crowd of people silent and listening attentively to the solo acoustic performer. ... No talking whatsoever.     

Q: Jamaica next year, too! How did that opportunity formulate?

A:  We were approached by Cameron Sears, former manager of the Grateful Dead, with the idea of playing Jamaica.   He has put on shows at the same site with Little Feet,  Ratdog,  Gov't Mule, and others.  He thought we would be good canididates for a show on the beach in the Carrabean.   We are very much looking forward to jamming on the beach.  We have already sold over half the tickets available a year out.  Anyone considering taking the trip with us may want to jump on the tickets sooner than later as it seems it will sell out.

Q:  Is it safe to say you are the most original-member-approved ‘Dead tribute group in the land?

A:   I don't know how to qualify that answer.   We certainly have had fun playing with original members that have sat in with us on multiple occasion and it seems we are regarded well enough to have some of our members nominated to play in their bands.  It's looking like we will have some of them participate in our festival we will be doing Labor Dar weekend call the "Dark Star Jubilee" in Ohio at the same site as Buckeye Lake where the Grateful Dead put on some fine shows.  It's always a pleasure to cross pollinate the music with former members and it's also really great to have the support of much of the old GD crew and family.

Q: Over 2,000 shows, wow! How do you do it?

A:  One show at a time.

Q:  What songs have been making it into the sets lately?

A:  We have been playing some stuff that goes all the way back to the Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions which was the Grateful Dead before they were the Grateful Dead such as "Overseas Stomp" aka "Lindy", "Yes She Do, No She Don't", and others.  We also will occasionally drop in our song we wrote with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter titled "Run Mary".  We always make sure to make room for the classics everyone loves.  That's why we are here.

Q: So, how’s Amsterdam treating you? I see you’re on the bill with Mike Gordon, Keller Williams and Lotus....cool!

A:  We just got back (Yesterday).  Amsterdam was a blast!   I got to sit in on two sets of Keller Williams and he played with DSO as well.  I enjoyed checking out and hanging with all the other great bands as well.  On the first night we arrived, I checked out a German Grateful Dead band called "Cosmic Finger".  We are everywhere.

Q:  What’s next release-wise for you? Please tell me everything you can if you’re able:

A:  We typically release the better shows of a tour eventually.  Rob Eaton takes note of the shows that felt good and then goes back and checks out how the recording came out.  If the recording is decent he will master it and then we release.  It takes awhile sometime but we try to release the best recordings possible.
    We are also very slowly working on other original tunes.  We've only released one so far but more will come eventually for those interested.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like Humboldt to know before your return to Arcata?

A:  Just looking forward to the Humbolt love!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Do the Best Things Always Disappear?

God bless Levon Helm. As a young teen in the early 70s, my “holy trinity” was the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and The Band. These three bands represent the best of Americana music. I was lucky enough to see The Band a few times before they split up in 1976 and quite a few times when they reformed without Robbie Robertson in the 80s. I even had the great honor of opening for them with my old band, The Volunteers in the early 80s. I got to meet them all and they were all a little strange but very friendly. I remember Levon making some obscure baseball metaphor that went right over me head! There was always something so soulful and right in both Levon’s drumming and his singing and he had that infectious smile and energy that came across in any theater or coliseum you happened to be in. I also was fortunate enough to see him play in a small bar on Long Island called My Father’s Place with a line-up called Levon Helm and the RCO All-stars, featuring Dr. John, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Fred Carter Jr., and the Howard Johnson Horns. God, they blew the roof off that joint!

My last recollection of seeing Levon was from side stage at the Gathering of the Vibes a couple of years ago. He wasn’t able to sing at the time, but his powerhouse drumming and warm, positive vibe were the heart and soul of that great set. It really broke my heart to hear of his passing yesterday. His music has meant so much to me over the years. I’m really going to miss him.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DSO number of shows per year

# of DSO shows per year. This list is probably not 100% accurate but close.

1997 - 7

1998 - 85

1999 - 143

2000- 156

2001- 154

2002- 168

2003- 132

2004- 159

2005- 148

2006- 167

2007- 155

2008- 133

2009- 130

2010- 136

2011- 129

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hey there blogosphere! Rob K here.
First, I must apologize for the lack of blogging on my part recently. We appreciate you reading and are making a better effort at more frequent entries.

So what's been going on? Well, we had a great 2nd half of 2011. Japan was incredible, as was Alaska. We are hoping to get back to both those places soon. Our gig at Hardly Strictly in Golden Gate Park gave us chills. So many people out there. Playing a GD show just yards from where the original was played. A truly unforgettable day.

2012 is off to a great start. The crowds are growing and we are playing really well. There is a great energy between the band and fans happening during the shows, and that really takes it to another level. Thank you!!

Lots of exciting stuff coming up. We are really looking forward to returning to Europe in a few weeks. Ready to take it to London for the first time. Tickets are selling well, and I am really excited to let the English heads know what we are about.

We are in Cleveland right now. We had the day off here yesterday and went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had the honor of taking a behind the scenes tour of the Archival Storage area. They are getting ready for a big Grateful Dead special exhibit and we got to see some of the artifacts up close. It opens in April and promises to be very cool. If you can get to Cleveland to see it, I would recommend it.

As I am sure you all know, we have announced our Jam in the Sand for March 2013 in Jamiaca. This is going to be an amazing time. Rooms are selling quick, so get those deposits in. Don't miss out on this great musical vacation!

Look for some more big announcements in the near future.
As, always, folks, thanks for your support. We couldn't do this without you.