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Interview: Dark Star Orchestra

Dark Star Orchestra, the premiere Grateful Dead tribute band will be celebrating their 17th anniversary at the Town Ballroom on Wednesday, November 12th. Not only are they great at what they do, but in the past year they have impressively surpassed the Grateful Dead in number of live shows played. Read on to see what drummer Rob Koritz has to say about his first time playing with Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, music festivals and more… Then head down to the Ballroom and remind them why bands love to play in Buffalo.

Your fall tour kicks off at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, NY on November 12th. Not only is this the tour opener but the date also marks the 17th Anniversary of Dark Star Orchestra’s formation. Can you say a few words about what it means to be a member of this band?

It is an honor to be a part of this band. We are so lucky to get to play music that we hold so dearly and play a small part in keeping this music and scene alive.

How does it feel to be celebrating 17 years as a hard working touring machine?

Old-Just kidding. I never imagined it would last this long. I think it is a testament to the strength of this music. I think it is definitely the “hardest easy job” out there, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Getting to do what you love and make people happy while you are doing it is living the dream, isn’t it??

Can we expect anything out of the ordinary, any special celebration at the show in Buffalo?

I’m not sure what we are doing that night but we are coming off of a big break. The first show always has a ton of energy, so it should be a lot of fun.

You guys have now played more live shows than the Grateful Dead and you have played with all of the living members of the Dead. Is that surprising to you? Do you get nervous when playing with the members of the Dead?

I don’t really dwell on the more shows than the Dead thing. It just means we “work really hard and spend a lot of time away from our families to do it. As for playing with members of the Dead, it is an honor and a real treat. I don’t really get nervous thanks to Bobby. The first time he played with us (2002) he said to me “don’t try and impress me. Just do what you do. God knows I’ve tried to impress certain musicians and come off looking like a fool. Let’s just go out there and have some fun.” Hearing that really put me at ease and they are words I think about whenever I play with someone new, no matter who they are. Thanks, Bob

What is your wildest memory on stage in your time with the band?

Too many to come up with just one.

What are a few of the venues that you really enjoy playing? Why?

The first that come to mind are the Fillmore SFO, Tipitina’s (although we haven’t been there in ages), the Pageant-St. Louis; Usually because of the energy from the stage, the room the crowd.

Is there any city that has been the most welcoming or has fans that consistently bring a lot of energy through the years?

So many, but Buffalo is certainly one of them.

From here it looks like the rest of the year and early into 2015 are pretty well booked up, including a New Years run and concluding with four nights in Jamaica with some friends. Can you tell us a little bit about those two events?

This will be our third year for both. The NYE run in Long Island is a great room and this year we are extending the run with 2 shows in DC. Jamaica is just a sick time. Chill all inclusive beach resort by day. Oceanfront jam experience by night. Gotta love that. We still have a few rooms available and I know it is pretty cold up here that time of year.

The band hosts a summer music festival – Dark Star Jubilee – and now also does the annual Jamaica destination event? How long have these events been taking place?

3rd Jamaica– 4th Jubilee. We are really proud of both of these events.

What is the atmosphere?

I already spoke about Jamaica. As far as the Jubilee, it is a very chill festival. You can actually camp with sightlines to the stage Very rare at a festival. It is also VERY family friendly. Great people, great vibe.

Do you ever as have a chance to slow down and hang with other musicians?

Mostly at festivals and on the odd occasion we have a night off and someone else is in town. Not as often as I would like, but that is the biggest reason I like doing the festivals.

And finally, what would we find currently in rotation on your iPod. Are there any young artists or groups that blow you away at the moment?

Wow, big question. I have about 25,000 songs in my iPod. Everything from Classical to Zappa. I enjoy most everything. Not all types of music but most. I dig a lot on the New Orleans stuff. Funk stuff and the brass bands. I’ve been grooving on a lot of 70s soul/R&B lately. I don’t really listen to a whole lot of new stuff I am afraid. I am sure I am missing plenty of good stuff, but it is hard to find the time.


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