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Grateful Dead’s music still alive

Cynic Correspondent

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 01:11

Dark Star Orchestra


Grateful Dead cover band Dark Side Orchestra stands in front of their van. They played at Higher Ground in South Burlington Nov. 20.


Over the past 15 years, Dark Star Orchestra has been recreating the Grateful Dead experience for Deadheads across the nation. 

By using the same type of sound equipment, the same types of instruments, the same stage positions and even the same set lists, this cover band gives audiences the whole experience of an original Grateful Dead show.

Dark Star Orchestra has made many trips up to Burlington and Winooski to get down with their Deadhead family that lives in the area. In light of their show last  Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Higher Ground, the Cynic had the opportunity to chat with Dino English, one of the band’s two drummers.

The Vermont Cynic (VC): First off, how were you introduced to the Grateful Dead?

Dino English (DE): Back in the 80s I had a lot of friends that tried to turn me on to the Dead. One friend in particular was always playing their albums for me. I was a music major at the time, and I always just thought their tapes sounded sloppy. Then my friend finally convinced me to go see them live in the summer of 1991 and I instantly understood what was going on. Seeing them live turned me into a Deadhead very quickly. 

VC: Besides the Dead, what are some of your other musical influences?

DE: Well, like I mentioned before I was a music major in college, so I listened to a lot of different genres. I’m into jazz, progressive rock, country, R&B, hard rock, soul and everything in between. I love when bands have two drummers and when they play a lot of different styles. These were both things that originally attracted me to the Dead.     

VC: What would you say is your favorite Grateful Dead album?

DE: “American Beauty” was the first album I ever bought, and that’s a great collection of songs. The lyrics really shine through. When I first started getting into the Dead, their live albums weren’t that available. Once they started releasing more live stuff, I would only listen to that. “Europe ’72” is a great representation of their live shows at their prime. “Without a Net” also holds a special place in my heart. 

VC: What have been some of your most memorable shows playing in Dark Star Orchestra?

DE: There have been so many amazing shows that it’s hard to choose. It’s always fun playing big shows at festivals like Gathering of the Vibes, All Good and Bonnaroo. The most meaningful shows would have to be when any of the original Grateful Dead members play with us. A couple weeks ago when we were doing our Fillmore run in San Francisco, Phil Lesh sat in with us for the first time. That was an incredible experience and we were very excited that he joined in.

VC: Do you guys get excited to come play in Burlington?

DE: Yeah, we love playing at Higher Ground. Our guitar player Rob Eaton is from Vermont, so it’s always nice for us to be able to come visit. It’s always a good time and there’s great family there.

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