Grateful Dead cover bands are nothing special or original. The Dead's lax attitude toward royalties and embrace of concert-tape swapping made it possible for essentially any Deadhead with a guitar, a local bar's open-mic night, and too much time on their hands to piece together a cover band. But there are a few differences between Chicago's Dark Star Orchestra and the legions of Deadheads who try their hand at emulating Jerry Garcia. First, Dark Star aren't simply a cover band, they are Grateful Dead re-creationists. Like a touring production of a Broadway musical that features the same songs in the same order as the original, Dark Star recreates historic Grateful Dead concerts song-for-song, only varying the show in terms of jams and added improvisations. Second, they have been successful at covering the Dead for 10 years now. Touring almost constantly, they're on the verge of racking up their 1,500th show, including concerts all over the U.S. and international festivals. The final, perhaps most important difference between Dark Star Orchestra and the average Dead cover band is that five members of the original Grateful Dead, including guitarist Bob Weir and drummer Bill Kruetzmann, have played with them. When the Dark Star Orchestra take the Guthrie stage, nobody in the audience will know what concert they will see, but they can be sure that they'll be treated to a worthy, if overly sentimental, part of rock history.
Mon., Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., 2008