Cover band to recreate vibes in Burly

Year after year, one band reincarnates the sweet sounds of psychedelic Americana originally spun by the Grateful Dead in their heyday.

On Oct. 11, Higher Ground is once again hosting Dark Star Orchestra. The band’s creativity and devotion have led them to surpass the Dead themselves in number of shows played, clocking in at over 2600 sets.

Drummer Rob Koritz, who plays Mickey Hart’s role, said the band did not have difficulty preparing for their most recent tour.

“The nature of the music is improvisational, so we don’t really need to [prepare],” Koritz said. “We approach it differently every single night of the year. No two shows are the same.”

The band selects sets to recreate by taking turns, he said.

“One person chooses each night because we’ve got all different ideas,” Koritz said. “If we decided together we’d never be able to pick one set, much less the tour.”

He said his favorite song to play is “The Music Never Stops,” which appears on the “Blues for Allah” album.

“If I had to pick a song to play every single night and not get bored of it, it would be ‘The Music Never Stops,’” Kortiz said. “Musically it sounds great, it’s got a big jam and the lyrics are phenomenal. It sums up everything I like about the Grateful Dead.”

The Grateful Dead’s time touring garnered a cult following and lasting cultural impact. It is the renewed renditions of classics and the pervasive touring spirit that draws Dark Star Orchestra’s massive crowd night after night.

“Some people follow us around all year,” Koritz said. “Most of them during summer when the kids aren’t in school, especially on the East Coast where the shows are so close together. It’s really an honor because these people are spending their time and money. It’s fulfilling that we’re what they want to see.”

Even today, the music of the Grateful Dead has a special magic that makes it unifying, Koritz said.  

“The lyrics are timeless,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what age you are; the words are some you can really live your life by.”

The second reason is that “music fans want things to be fresh,” he said. “Music fans want things to be different every night and with the Dead it’s always changing.”

“Three is that you have a community that’s there for the music,” Koritz said. “Their parents did it; they get to see how cool the culture is. It’s a great American art form. It’s timeless.”

Burlington has always been important to the band, he said.

“I remember the first time we played: the crowd really embraced us,” Koritz said. “I mean, things are different, people grow old and you see new faces now, but the vibe hasn’t changed in Burlington.”

Crowds can expect more of the same positive vibes Oct. 11, Koritz said.

“I can’t tell you what you’re gonna hear,” Koritz said, “but I can tell you’re gonna see people that are happy to be there up on stage and thrilled to play for you.