Photos and Words by Craig Sandor

Ahhh some good ol’ Grateful Dead music always played to its finest! This ensemble as most fans know has been around for 15 years plus now and they keep growing stronger and stronger. They aren’t a cover band; they are the exclusive Grateful Dead tribute band who is always so spot on, that it’s easy to lose yourself in their performances once you close your eyes as you forget who is actually up there in front of you.

I have seen the Grateful Dead just shy of 200 times, and I always enjoy seeing this band as it’s still the closest thing to their music, so close that they have replicated hundreds of actual Grateful Dead shows perfectly to the note. Don’t get me wrong as we all know and love Furthur (who btw have grabbed DSO’s original guitarist, John Kadlecik) but those guys bring things to a different dimension and have expanded their music to a different level.

This brings me to the point that Dark Star Orchestra has certainly made their way up the ladder of respect and I believe are now considered “family” from the Grateful Dead’s point of view, with every right as original members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh have sat in with them in the past. But for five of DSO’s shows this tour, including last night, they switched things up as DSO’s keyboardist Rob Barraco has been playing with Phil Lesh’s Quintet and Furthur’s Jeff Chimenti has been sitting in with DSO…while it may not be a long one, it’s still certainly a trip!

But last night was a great time in the lobby also known as “The Dome” at Wallingford, CT’s Oakdale Theater. With 1200+ anxious fans packed in there with no room to move, the band was happy, smiling and had a great amount of energy right off the bat. Starting the show off with one of my personal favorites, “Mississippi Half-Step Toodleloo”, I knew I was in for some of my favorite songs, and I most certainly was. This show was an original set list arrangement, but I was more than happy with that as they just ripped one favorite of mine after another and this was quite possibly my favorite of all DSO shows that I’ve had the personal pleasure to see.


1st Set: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo, Mama Tried, Deal, Looks Like rain, Dire Wolf, El Paso, Sugaree, Let It Grow > Franklin’s Tower

2nd Set: Samson And Delilah, Ship Of Fools, Estimated Prophet > He’s Gone > drums > space > Truckin’ > Stella Blue > Going Down The Road Feeling Bad > Johnny B. Goode

Encore: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)