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Grateful Dead’s music to be revived by tribute band

Courtesy of Bob Minkin

Take seven parts musician, seven parts “dead head,” and what results is Dark Star Orchestra, a tribute band to Grateful Dead.

The tribute band is scheduled to play at Newport Music Hall at 8 p.m. Friday.

Dark Star Orchestra, comprised of seven musicians, has not only played with like-minded fans, but also original members of Grateful Dead.

Drummer Rob Koritz said it was a huge honor to have some of the original band members, such as Bob Weir and Tom Constanten, jam with them.

Even though the tribute band has played with original members, Koritz said they never feel pressured to live up to the original band.

“That’s not what it’s about,” Koritz said.

Koritz said playing is about keeping the music alive, and giving younger generations the chance to experience what Grateful Dead was like.

One way Dark Star is able to continue Grateful Dead’s legacy is to play original set lists of performed shows.

Koritz said 70 percent of the shows played are based on the original set lists Grateful Dead’s concerts. The other 30 percent are mashups of various singles and unreleased songs from the real band.

Rick Barnett, former drummer for Train of Love, a Johnny Cash tribute band, said matching up set lists is a common practice for tribute bands.

“It’s a way to give the audience the ultimate experience,” Barnett said.

Barnett said he was impressed Grateful Dead members actually played with Dark Star Orchestra occasionally.

The decision process for Dark Star Orchestra’s set list ranges from which instruments will fit on stage to the date or location of the show.

If Dark Star Orchestra is in Cincinnati, then there is a chance they will play a show based off a previous Cincinnati concert performed by Grateful Dead, or if it is a Feb. 16 show, then they might play a set list from a past Feb. 16 show, Koritz said.

In San Francisco, the tribute band played at Golden Gate Park in almost the exact spot their idols played years ago. Koritz said it was one of his most memorable shows.

Brendan Trenner, an Ohio State alumnus, is a fan of Grateful Dead and said he enjoys various tribute bands for what they have to offer fans.

Trenner said Dark Star Orchestra offers the sounds he enjoys most about Grateful Dead, and how they could span different genres of music.

Jackie Carey, a fourth-year in strategic communications, said tribute bands open a rare window to the past.

“It gives younger generations (the opportunity) to see music in its authenticity,” Carey said.

Daniel Sparks contributed to this story.

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