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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dead Heads unite at Rialto

    The “”Summer of Love”” came and went long before most current UA students were even born, but the lovey-dovey legacy of the flower children can still be seen on a regular basis today. Nowhere are these psychedelic summertime sentiments more apparent than in the flowing locks and smoky smiles of the music lovers who call themselves Dead Heads.

    Since their 1965 inception, The Grateful Dead spent over thirty years touring, forging a legend as one of the most iconic live rock shows in the U.S. by fusing folk, blues, country, jazz and psychedelic styles into their improv-heavy sets. On Monday April 6, this legend will be honored at the Rialto by Dark Star Orchestra, the definitive Dead tribute.

    The philosophy of Dark Star Orchestra is one of authenticity: the band has seen somewhere close to 1,000 Dead shows between its seven members, and it is this faithful fanaticism that drives DSO’s own live performances. According to Dino English, one of the band’s two drummers (Dino plays the music of the Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann while fellow percussionist Rob Koritz emulates Mickey Hart) about two-thirds of DSO’s live shows are song-for-song recreations of sets from the Dead’s thirty-years-rich catalog of live material, right down to the off-the-cuff solos and jam sessions. “”That’s the cool thing about the Dead’s stuff,”” English began, “”in twenty years, they never played the same thing twice.””

    DSO tries to approach their shows with the same kind of originality. When asked if there were any Dead hits guaranteed to be played at a given show, English responded, “”There’s no guarantee of anything. We know about 400 songs that we can pull out of our heads at any time, so [expect to hear] one of those 400.””

    In addition to their recreation of live shows, what really makes DSO unique is their meticulous attention to detail, English says; everything from melodies to solos to the sound quality of the instruments is fine-tuned to recreate the distinct sound of the Grateful Dead. “”Even when we’re playing our own set lists, we try to adapt the flow of a Grateful Dead show…in that it takes you on a real journey.””

    Admittedly, the number of Dead Heads on campus is staggeringly few compared to the throngs that fled to San Francisco during the apex of the Dead’s popularity thirty years ago, but it’s never too late to become one. English himself was a late convert to the order of Dead Heads, having seen his first show in 1990, just five years before visionary frontman Jerry Garcia died from a heart attack. In that interim, though, English managed to see the Dead more than twenty times live, providing him with a wild new musical world to explore. “”The first time…I only recognized two songs,”” said English, “”one was ‘Truckin” and one was ‘Good Lovin”…but I was hooked. The Grateful Dead had elements of all the musical styles that I liked…it (was) kind of like the whole universe meeting together.””

    Dead Head or not, audience members of DSO’s April 6 show at the Rialto will be in for what English describes as a “”real celebration.”” Tickets are $24 in advance and $26 at the door. Long live The Dead!

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