Written by Bill Whiting
Photo by Scott Preston
Dark Star Orchestra’s Jubilee, an annual three day festival held at Legend Valley Campground in Thornville, Ohio, got off to a roaring start on Friday, May 23 with an original two set concert by the headliner. Starting with “Box of Rain,” DSO set the wheels in cruise control with simmering solos by Jeff Mattson. Seventies Grateful Dead nuggets continued to pour in as “Til the Morning Comes” was followed by a rousing “Black Throated Wind,” featuring the growling vocal attack of Rob Eaton. Eaton and Mattson traded edgy, fleet fingered guitar breakdowns on “Big Railroad Blues” and “Cassidy.” A surprise take on “Mission in the Rain” led into the galloping double barreled firepower of “Mama Tried” – “Big River.” A gentle, swaying “Sugaree” had Mattson serenading the extensive Legend Valley campgrounds with assured authority.
The first set ended with keyboardist Rob Barroco filling out the sound mix on “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “Might as Well.” A reverberating “Feel Like a Stranger” opened set two, and Eaton’s powerhouse performance paved the way for the fun filled romp and stomp of “Cumberland Blues.” An epic masterwork of improvisational glory colored DSO’s highlight of the first night at Jubilee on the winning, “Eyes of the World.” A celebratory dive into Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew” followed, with Barraco providing colorful flourishes on the keys. Encoring with the Warren Zevon classic, “Werewolves of London,” the Dark Star Orchestra proved once again that they could put on one of the best parties in the country with their interpretive magic and visionary musical might.
Set One: Box of Rain, Til the Morning Comes, Black Throated Wind, Big Railroad Blues, Cassidy, Mission in the Rain, Mama Tried- Big River, Sugaree, Gimme Some Lovin’- Might as Well
Set Two: Feel Like a Stranger, Cumberland Blues, Lost Sailor- Saint of Circumstance, Eyes of the World, DSO Drums- Jabberwocky Space- Dear Mr. Fantasy- The Other One- Morning Dew
Encore: Werewolves of London