Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra began a run of California concerts on Thursday with a stop at the picturesque Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Guitarist Stu Allen filled in for Jeff Mattson as the DSO guitarist had a death in the family.
Stu is a well-known figure in the Dead universe, performing with Phil Lesh & Friends and fronting his own GD tribute, Stu Allen & Mars Hotel. Stu and Dark Star Orchestra got the elective set underway with the Grateful Dead-covered Sam Cooke classic “Good Times” followed by “Feel Like A Stranger.” The Jerry Garcia Band staple “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” by Bob Dylan came next ahead of the Pigpen sung Junior Parker blues number “Next Time You See Me,” helmed by DSO keyboardits Rob Barraco. Guitarits Rob Eaton then led the band though another Dead-related Dylan tune, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”
More blues in the “Big Railroad” variety by Noah Lewis of Cannon’s Jug Stompers followed ahead of the late-1970s Dead pairing of “Lazy Lightning” and “Supplication.” Dark Star Orchestra wrapped the first frame with “Might As Well,” which originally appeared on Jerry Garcia’s 1976 solo album, Reflections. The Grateful Dead debuted the last three songs of DSO’s set, “Lazy Lightning,” “Supplication” and “Might As Well,” at the same show on June 3, 1976.
More Jerry in “Cats Under The Stars,” the title track to Garcia’s 1978 solo album, kicked off the second set. Stu led the band through the tune and was joined by vocalist Lisa Mackey and Eaton on the choruses. A signature Phil Lesh tune, “Unbroken Chain,” fell in the second slot. Dark Star Orchestra then embarked on a second set seamless section beginning with “Uncle John’s Band” which headed into “China Cat Sunflower.” A standout transition into “Corrina” followed ahead of the “Drums” and “Space” segments.
Another Reflections cut, “Mission In The Rain,” emerged from “Space.” DSO sealed the sequence with the third Dylan tune of the show, “All Along The Watchtower,” and an “Uncle John’s Band Reprise.” A Pigpen style “Turn On Your Love Light” capped off the second set. Dark Star Orchestra returned for an encore of vintage number, “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion).” DSO and Stu Allen head up to the Days Between festival in Laytonville, California this weekend.
Watch video from the Mountain Winery show with Stu Allen below:
Setlist (via DSO Forums)
Set One: Good Times, Feel Like a Stranger, It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, Next Time You See Me, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Big Railroad Blues, Lazy Lightning > Supplication, Might as Well
Set Two: Cats Under the Stars, Unbroken Chain, Uncle John’s Band > China Cat Sunflower > Corrina > Drums/Space > Mission in the Rain > All Along the Watchtower > UJB Reprise, Lovelight (pigpen style)
Encore: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)