Dark Star Orchestra
Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 19 years and over 2600 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead's extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra's members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience.
Rob has played music on both keyboard and guitar since the age of 6 and has been a professional musician all his adult life. For over ten years in the 80's and early 90's he was keyboardist for the hit tv show "The Cosby Show" and its spin off "It's A Different World."
Rob toured with R&B sensation Freddie Jackson in the late 80's before joining The Zen Tricksters. Rob spent eleven years touring and recording with The Tricksters turning out two studio albums and playing live shows across the US and Canada. It was their second album, A Love Surreal, that caught Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh's ear.
Phil summoned Rob and Trickster guitarist Jeff Mattson to play a series of shows in San Francisco and then on to tour the country double billing with Bob Dylan. That band included drummer extraordinaire John Molo, boy wiz Derek Trucks, and the ubiquitous Warren Haynes. The following year one of the great jam bands of all time was formed with Phil, Rob, John, Warren and the guitar giant Jimmy Herring. This band would forever be known as The Q (short for The Phil Lesh Quintet). They went on to tour the country for three years and put out one studio album, There and Back Again.
From 1999 through the present, Rob has been part of Phil Lesh and Friends.
In 2002 he joined with the original members of the Grateful Dead for the Alpine Valley reunion shows and then toured with them in 2002 and 2003.
In 2004 he joined Chris Robinson's New Earth Mud. In 2005, he toured with Dark Star Orchestra after the tragic death of keyboardist Scott Larned and is still playing with them at the present time.
Rob has one solo CD co-written with Robert Hunter titled "When We All Come Home".
Rob started playing guitar at the age of 12. His inspiration for playing was hearing Europe '72, the year it came out. His first band "The Peyote Ridge Band" played originals, Dead and others from 1975 till 1980. In 1980 Rob moved to NYC from Vermont to begin a recording career, spending many of those years as a staff engineer with "The Power Station Studios".. Rob's name may be familiar to those in the recording business both professional and the vast Grateful Dead taping world. He has been involved in the Grateful Dead community since the 70's. In 1980 Rob joined up with Border Legion a northern New Jersey Dead band and played with them till 2001 when he joined DSO full time. Rob still does some studio work but his full time passion is DSO.
Studying percussion and playing in jazz and concert band in college enabled Dino "Vortex" English to adapt and fit into manifold musical projects and situations. After being turned on to the Grateful Dead, Dino's love for "it" led him to play in a series of Dead-oriented groups culminating in his current position playing the Bill Kreutzmann musical roll in Dark Star Orchestra.
Dino also continues to follow many musical path's by producing and recording his own original material as well as working and recording with others musical performers and groups.
Rob was classically trained at the University of Arizona before realizing there was little career opportunity in classical percussion. After some travel time in Europe (including 1990 Dead Tour) he resumed his studies, getting a degree in Jazz Studies at Webster University in his hometown, St. Louis MO.
Over the next 9 years, his musical career including everything from original bands to Dead, jazz, classical, country, zydeco, a samba troupe doing corporate gigs, and way too many wedding gigs.
Rob also started a 'team building through drumming' workshop called the "Percussion Discussion," which he still does in his off time, as well as playing with local acts in St. Louis and with some folks from Austin, TX from time to time.
Lisa got her start singing to the trees and woodland creatures in her hometown, Mokena, Illinois. Most of her training came from choral directors in the church choir and Lincoln-Way High School chorus, with a few lessons scattered here and there.
Her start in the Chi-town music scene and indoctrination into the music and culture of the Grateful Dead began by working with local musicians Rich Godliewski and Bob Lait in a project called Azure, and under the tutelage of Bob Lait in the Shotgun Ragtime Band (those were good times), and with JK, Bob, Wavy Dave Burlingame(Cornmeal), Mike Hazdra (played some bass with DSO for a couple years) and others in a collaberation called the Dime Store String Band (this band still kicks up some dust in the Chicago area from time-to-time).
Lisa pours heart and soul into her singing with Dark Star Orchestra. It is her testimonial to her love of the music of the Grateful Dead.
Jeff Mattson (guitar, vocals) is a master of eclectic styles. Lead guitarist for Dark Star Orchestra, and the Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson. Jeff is a founding member of the legendary jam band, The Zen Tricksters.
Jeff has been a student of the Jerry Garcia style of guitar playing since with early 1970s. In addition to playing in a band currently with Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff has played with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Tom Constanten, Vince Welnick, Merl Saunders, Melvin Seals, David Nelson, Buddy Cage, Peter Rowan, Martin Fierro, and Vassar Clements.
Jeff, a veteran of over 30 years on the road, is a guitar wizard whose playing ranges from rock & roll to blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, and folk, with a healthy dose of psychedelia. Jeff is also a strong original songwriter and his work is prominently featured on five original albums, including several pieces co-written with bandmate Donna Jean Godchaux and one with Rob Barraco (Dark Star Orchestra, Phil Lesh & Friends), "Leave Me Out of This," a track on Phil & Friends Sony CD, There and Back Again.
He is known for delivering heart-wrenching vocals as well as his ever-present desire to explore new musical terrain with his fellow musicians. Jeff was asked to audition for Phil Lesh & Friends in the fall of 1999 and in October 1999, Jeff and DSO band mate (then Zen Trickster keyboard player), Rob Barraco, played three shows with Phil & Friends at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco.
Skip Vangelas (bass) Skip played with Rob Eaton in Border Legion and filled in on bass for the four Colorado shows in Spring 2001. Skip clearly came to play the part and did so brilliantly. He has been re-inducted to the DSO bass position after Kevin Rosen's retirement in 2013.
Scott Larned - Keyboards, vocals 1997 - 2005
John Kadlecik - Lead Guitar, Vocals 1997- 2009
Kevin Rosen - Bass, vocals 1997- 1998 and 2001-2013
Mike Maraat - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals 1997 - 1999
Ahmer Nizam - Drums - 1997- 1999
Mark Corsolini - Drums 1997 - 1999
Michael Hazdra -Bass, vocals 1998 - 2001