Interview with Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra – Dark Star Jubilee This Weekend (5/23-5/25) at Legend Valley Music Center


Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra
Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra

Interview & Photos by Scott Preston

Dark Star Jubilee
5/23 – 5/23/2014
Legend Valley Music Center, Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Yonder Mountain String Band, Galactic, Keller Williams with More Than A Little, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Devil Makes Three, The Wailers, Anders Osbourne, The Werks, Everyone Orchestra, Donna The Buffalo, Toubab Krewe, Orgone, Cornmeal, Ultraviolet Hippo, Rumpke Mountain Boys, The Ragbirds, Aliver Hall, AJ Ghent, Devil’s Lettuce

Dark Star Orchestras shows are built off the extensive catalog of the Grateful Dead. 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 the catalog of original songs and often played covers to create a unique set list for the show. This allows music fans both young and old to share in the experience. Dark Star Orchestra presents its critically acclaimed live show at esteemed venues from coast to coast and internationally. Grateful Dead classics are performed in the same way that an orchestra interprets music of classical composers. The composer spirit is derived and channeled as the players capture the excitement and innovation of the original performances and compositions.

Touring nationwide for over 15 years to the tune of nearly 2200 shows since forming, the band’s determined commitment to “raising the Dead” has drawn national media attention. (from

Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra
Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra

Jamband News: What are you most looking forward to at Jubilee this weekend?

Rob Koritz: For me its just a great weekend all around.  We play so many festivals its really nice to be the hosts.  We get to stay put and have all of our friends come in and play.  Its just fun to play 3 nights on the same stage.

Jamband News: I see you are making another appearance with the Everyone Orchestra.

Rob Koritz: Its really one of the most exciting things I do musically.  I have done four or five of them, but this one is going to be really interesting because I think aside from one or two others it will be the first time any of them have participated. We will be playing with a bunch of Everyone Orchestra rookies, so it should be a good time.

Jamband News: Do you perform with anyone else outside of Dark Star Orchestra?

Rob Koritz: When I am at home I perform with a bunch of different groups around St Louis when I have the time.  Another cool thing about this weekend is that we will have people playing with us and we will go out and perform with our friends.  I think I might be playing with 3 or 4 bands over the weekend.

Jamband News: What is the process for DSO deciding which Grateful Dead show to perform?

Rob Koritz: Well for each show we have just one guy do it, because if we all tried to put in our 2 cents every show nothing would ever get done.  A lot goes into the decision making process.  Some of the criteria includes how big is the stage we are going to perform on? What can we fit on it? When we get past that, we look to see what we played the last time we were in that town.  We don’t want to repeat the same show.  Then we look at what did we play last night and what are we going to play tomorrow night.  We do it on our off time so when the tour starts we are all set and ready to go.

Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra
Rob Koritz from Dark Star Orchestra

Jamband News: When a member of The Grateful Dead performs with DSO, do you let them dictate what is going to be played?

Rob Koritz: Usually when they show up we already have an idea of what we are going to play, but we always let them fine tune it.

Jamband News: What do you think put Dark Star Orchestra on the map in the music world?

Rob Koritz: I joined the band in 1999 and it really had already started to get popular.  They already started to perform outside of Illinois and some of the guys from Phish played with them.  Literally my 10th show with the band we play at the Fillmore in San Francisco to a sold out crowd.  There were some slow years but it has progressed nicely over the last 15 years.

Jamband News: When was your first Dead show?

Rob Koritz: My first show was in 1987, so I missed the bulk of the shows.  We have one guy whose first show was in 1994 and others who started seeing them in the 1970’s.

Jamband News: Do you have a favorite decade of the Dead’s music?

Rob Koritz: It goes in waves, when I joined the band the 80’s we my favorite because thats what I grew up on.  As time went on I became fond of the one drummer shows of the early 1970’s.  Dark Star Orchestra has really started to get in to show from the 1960’s, which is completely different from anything else we have done.

Jamband News: Have you always wanted to be a musician?

Rob Koritz: Always. When I was 7 years old I signed up 6 months of drum lessons and decided we will see how its goes.  I received my degree in music in college and have been a professional musician ever since.