Dark Star Orchestra Work Their Magic on Santa Barbara 1978

by Chason Heins

Dark Star Orchestra kicked off the second leg of their fall tour this past Friday evening (November 3rd) in Montclair NJ at The Wellmont Theatre. Celebrating their 20th year the band just a night shy of their official anniversary, they held nothing back, beautifully weaving their way through a delightful rendition of The Grateful Dead’s 1/13/78 Santa Barbara performance at the Arlington Theater.

The night got underway with the opening notes of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” which quickly set an upbeat tone for the evening. A “Mexicali Blue > Big River” kept the energy high before the band slowed things down a bit with a delightful “Candyman.” The set continued with well-played versions of “It’s All Over Now” and “Brown-Eyed Women” as well as a personal favorite, “Beat It on Down the Line.” The set ended with a killer “Friend of The Devil” followed by rather tasty “Lazy Lightnin’> Supplication.”

The crowd erupted as the band dove into a “Bertha > Good Lovin’,” opening the second set in perfect fashion, keeping the pedal down as they treated the crowd to what was easily one of the highlights of the evening. The band then briefly changed gears, highlighting Lisa Mackey’s stellar vocals with a moving version of “Sunrise” that beautifully settled the room down for what would be the only time in the second set.

Kicking things back up a notch, the band entered the final stretch of the evening with a magnificent “Dancing in the Street” and never looked back. From there the band finished out the evening uninterrupted with “Drums > Jam> Wharf Rat > Truckin’ > Around and Around.” It was this final segment that truly showcased the talent of the band members as well as their undeniable love for the music. The night ended with fan favorite “Sugar Magnolia,” giving everyone including the band one final chance to let loose and soak in the music.

DSO’s ability to harness the magic that was the Dead and recreate it in a way that makes it seems as if it’s their own truly shone throughout the entire show. The band has kept the spirit alive for so many while allowing those who may have not experienced the real thing a chance to get a small taste of just what it may have been like to experience The Grateful Dead.

From The Setlist Program:


Arlington Theater – Santa Barbara, CA

Set 1:
Mississippi Half-Step
Mexicali Blues
Big River
It’s All Over Now
Brown-Eyed Women
Beat It On Down The Line
Friend Of The Devil
Lazy Lightnin’

Set 2:
Good Lovin’
Dancin’ In The Streets
Wharf Rat
Around And Around

Sugar Magnolia