The saying used to be : "We're not the just best at what we do, we are the only ones who do what we do."
That is, perhaps, not so perfectly the case any more.
One searches for superlatives.
I am an old school Deadhead- my first show ever was the first Newport Beach Pop Festival where everybody that was anybody in the psychedelic scene played. Too bad I was too young, ignorant, and wasted to know who any of them were enough to really remember any of it. But by the time I revisited the Airplane and the Dead in some of their other earlier Orange County shows (like the Wonderland Skate Ranch, where the Airplane played, which I do remember, sort of), both acts had evolved a certain veneer and polish that followed them as trademarks throughout their long careers. Probably the one thing that attracted later, more "sophisticated" Heads to the Dead is the impeccable attention to professional production consistantly witnessed in the live venues. These people were masters at their craft.
Not an easy act to follow, let alone duplicate.
Let alone exceed.
The Dark Star Orchestra is widely recognized as the premiere Grateful Dead "cover" band in the US today. And all one has to do to verify this for onself is try and get tickets for any of the Petaluma shows. But, the DSO musicians prove themselves more than simple copycats in their ability to meet and often exceed the musical stylisms and parameters established by the original band.
The most outstanding example is in the DSO drum team. As a veteran of multiple Rhythm Devils attacks, I can attest to witnessing veteran heads treating the GD drum sets as intermissions for a run to the can. Kind of a lull in the action, almost a low spot.
Not so with DSO, not at all. Dino English and Rob Koritz had the crowd mesmerized with their incredible acoustic acrobatics. The unexpectedly intimate nature of the venue (only 200 advance tix were actually sold) allowed an easy panascopic survey of the dance floor, to which, by this time, EVERYONE had migrated: No one left the room. Even jaded heads, like myself, were... impressed, to put it mildly.
As the other half of the machine, Kevin Rosen, John Kadlecik, and Rob Eaton, returned to slide into the "Space" portion of show, I noticed most of the inexperienced listeners slip into a state of astonishment, and I myself was reminded a certain magician-apprentice hallucination I experienced on shrooms one Saturday afternoon at Cal Expo during a Bob 'n' Jerry escapade.
I happened to be there with someone who never saw the Dead when they were around, never even ever much listened to them for that matter. On the way out she said "You can play these guys whenever you want, and in fact, I'll go see them whenever you want to take me."
I hope you understand what a compliment it is to be able to win a new convert in that manner. Yeah, the tunes are Garcia/Hunter/Weir/Barlow, etc., but the musicians that the new converts know are those same six that so kindly acquiesced to autographing a 2003 Fillmore DSO poster for me during the break in that Reno show. Those same proved themselves stars in their own right that same night. BRAVO DSO!!!