There are a lot of cover bands around and a lot of those are Grateful Dead cover bands. You've seen them, they're good. Most include the music of Jerry Garcia, Bobby Weir et al with other cover songs and some originals mixed in. DSO is a different breed of "Dead" band. What Dark Star Orchestra does is recreate the Grateful Dead. Not with hippie wigs and fake beards but through the live music. They play the setlist song for song in the same arrangements used by the Dead members of that period.
Growing up in a quaint little town helped Scott McDonald utilize words like "quaint" in his everyday banter. This in turn, transferred over into his music, providing many more opportunities to use obsolete words and useless phrases. After a brief stint in the "Welcome Back Kotter" fan club, Scott got serious about his music. All it took was one song to change his life forever, PAC MAN FEVER. Those pulsating rhythms, the astute lyrical commentary, the cool, chomping sound effects masterfully placed throughout the entire cut. It spoke volumes.
Over the past two years Railroad Earth has carved a path wide and deep throughout the American roots music scene. Right from their first gigs in May 2001, to their most recent shows for a growing legion of loyal fans, Railroad Earth has been an undeniable force whose superb songwriting, singing and performances from the stage have made them one of the most talked about bands to arrive in years.
The Grateful Web sat down with Mark Karan, guitarist for RatDog, backstage at the Paramount Theater in Denver to talk about the status of the jamband scene, changing demographics at the shows, Weir's insatiable need to be on the road and why Karan knows he is lucky as hell to be getting paid (and laid) to play with Bobby.