Dark Star Orchestra
Dark Star Orchestra

Drummer Dino English loves the Grateful Dead.

That's good considering English is one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead tribute band the Dark Star Orchestra.

DSO, as it is called by fans, consists of English, lead guitarist/vocalist John Kadlecik, vocalist Lisa Mackey, drummer Rob Koritz, bassist/vocalist Kevin Rosen, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Rob Eaton and keyboardist/vocalist Rob Barraco.

The band will perform two nights at the Depot next week.

But English didn't start off as a drummer.

"Originally I was a Kiss fan and liked Peter Criss when I was in grade school," said English during a phone call from Chico, Calif.

"I wanted a drum set. My parents wouldn't let me. I played guitar for a while until I was able to afford a drum kit.

"At that point my musical influences was progressive '70s rock and the Police."

However, it was the dual-drum team of Phil Collins and Chester Thompson of Genesis that got English into dual, double-drumming concept.

"I really loved those guys," English said. "I liked their '70s and early '80s stuff. One of my first concerts was them."

Then English was introduced to the Grateful Dead while in college.

"A friend took me to a show and all the light-bulbs went on and I got it," said English, who was a music major in college.

"I had a fairly large musical foundation before I got into (Grateful Dead drummers) Bill (Kreutzmann) and Mickey (Hart)."

English, who takes on the Kreutzmann role in the Dark Star Orchestra, joined DSO after seeing a want ad on the band's website, www.darkstarorchestra.net.

Throughout his musical career, English, while also playing original music, would get together with a bunch of other Deadheads and play Grateful Dead tunes.

So, when English applied for the DSO drum job, he was more than qualified.

"They gave me a slot on one of their sold-out nights and it was sink or swim. It was an actual gig. There was no audition."

He was well-versed in the songs and landed the job.

English said he likes Kreutzmann's approach to playing, something he has tried to emulate.

"I'm not really trying to copy his licks, per se, I'm trying to copy his approach.

"I work on my own licks, and I work on my own patterns. One of Bill's favorite drummers was (the late jazz drummer) Elvin Jones. So I think Bill's style, which is very unique unto himself, developed trying to play that kind of style that Elvin did. And I love that approach. I try to play like Elvin, too, but I'm falling really short."

English's favorite Grateful Dead tune is "Comes a Time," which can be found on the live album "Hundred Year Hall," which was recorded in 1972 but wasn't official released until 1995.

"Not many bands can pull off a ballad and make a room of 20,000 people quiet and be so locked into it … every single nuance of it."

English summed up the mission of the Dark Star Orchestra

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"We're a team of people who have a likeminded goal," English said. "And that's to play Grateful Dead music the best we can. What we're tying to do is play it right, the way we see it."

By that he means making sure the melodies and phrasing are in the songs and the harmonies are there.

"The structure of the arrangements are there, depending on which version we are doing, but the jams are wide open."


What: Dark Star Orchestra

Where: The Depot, 400 W. South Temple

When: Oct. 14-15

How much: $25

Phone: 801-467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com

e-mail: scott@desnews.com