Dark Star Orchestra channels Grateful Dead

December 27, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. - Dark Star Orchestra will pay homage to the Grateful Dead on Friday at Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick.

The seven-member tribute band will perform a set list based on one of the Dead's many shows, said Dark Star frontman John Kadlecik, the lead guitarist who sings Jerry Garcia's parts.

While not divulging which songs Dark Star would perform, Kadlecik said the group's set lists were renditions of past Grateful Dead shows.

Formed in 1997, Dark Star bills itself as a tribute band that doesn't perform songs note-for-note like Grateful Dead did - though Dark Star draws from the Dead's set lists to structure concerts, Kadlecik said.


To date, the band has performed at least 1,000 different set lists and has yet to repeat a set this year, a streak they hope to continue, "if we can help it," Kadlecik said.

Kadlecik, 38, grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Takoma Park, Md.

The son of a city manager and a painter, Kadlecik grew up listening to classical music and playing the violin. Aside from Beatles records his mother played when he was a child, he wasn't introduced to other rock music until he was in high school.

Kadlecik, who still plays the violin, said he first heard the Grateful Dead in the late '80s. He attended his first Grateful Dead concert in 1989.

"It was kind of like coming home for the first time," he said of his first Grateful Dead show.

"They were the best musicians of the San Francisco music scene," Kadlecik said.

Kadlecik said he spent the next eight years after that 1989 concert trying to put together a tribute band. Most of the band's energy - and profits - come from its live performances.

"The livelihood aspect kind of fell in my lap," Kadlecik said. "This band came together to soothe a musical itch."

The Frederick concert will launch Dark Star's four-city mini-tour leading up to New Year's. The band will next perform at Baltimore's Rams Head Live on Saturday, Dec. 29, and will go on to New Jersey on Sunday. Dark Star will perform New Year's Eve at Keswick Theatre near Philadelphia.

Dark Star also has been celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Recordings are available at the band's Web site,

If you go ...

WHAT: Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band, in concert

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28

WHERE: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: Tickets cost $25, $27 and $29

MORE: For ticket information, call 301-600-2828 or go to Hear Dark Star Orchestra perform at

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