Tree Small Tree Large
Main Dark Star Jubilee Banner

band bios

Dark Star Orchestra
Dark Star Orchestra

Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 18 years and over 2500 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.

Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band

Boulder, CO - Monday, February 23, 2015 - For nearly 17 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock n' roll and improvisation. YMSB has always played music of their own design, in the process attracting a devout coterie of fans that often resembles a tight knit family on an epic musical journey as Yonder traverses the country with an ever-rigorous tour schedule. Yonder is a quintessential ensemble honing its craft night after night on the road, and the fans are there to experience it in real time. The result is music that doesn't stand still, it's always progressing and breaking unprecedented ground.

With their latest album, Black Sheep (scheduled for national release on their own Frog Pad Records at Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 16, 2015), Yonder Mountain String Band - Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals) and Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals) - begins a new era. The first YMSB release produced by the band itself, Black Sheep is, by any measure, a triumph, perhaps the most mesmeric of their career. For the recording, their sixth studio album overall, Yonder has recruited two standout musicians to join them in the studio (and, subsequently, on the road), violinist Allie Kral and mandolin virtuoso Jacob Jolliff. The result, says Kaufmann, is that, "This record sounds more like Yonder than any record we've ever done. I'm hoping that when people are finished listening to it, they'll just hit play and listen to it again."

Black Sheep marks the first time in Yonder's history that they're actually utilizing, throughout an entire record, the conventional five-piece instrumental arsenal of bluegrass introduced in the 1940s: guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass. With the exception of the album's sole cover tune, "Ever Fallen In Love," originally by the late '70s British punk-rock band the Buzzcocks, each of the album's new tracks were written by the YMSB members during the past couple of years. Three of the new songs - "Annalee," "Landfall" and the title track - have already been road-tested on tour; others will be added to the band's live repertoire following the album's release. The majority of Black Sheep was recorded at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado, with Adam handling much of the engineering at his home studio and while on the road; the first time a band member has taken on that task.

Even on first listen, it becomes instantaneously apparent that Black Sheep is the work of a new Yonder Mountain String Band, one with a strong commitment to re-exhibiting itself, broadening its parameters following the departure of a founding member. While it's immediately recognizable as YMSB music, there's undeniably a raw aesthetic to the studio tracks—a sense of daring is embedded in both the instrumental interaction between these five singular players and in the lyrical content of each song.

The compositions cover a wide topical swath. "Insult and Elbow," the album's opening track, is on its surface about escapism and substance abuse; "Landfall" addresses the touring life of a modern band; "Around You," explains Kaufmann, is "about the moment when you realize that you are the only common denominator in every problem you've ever had and that there is no one else that can take responsibility for anything that happens to you." The title track, centered on a wannabe renegade, suggests that nothing is really free, that even the fakes and the phonies demand a price.

"New Dusty Miller" reinterprets an old fiddle tune and was inspired by the late folk and bluegrass singer-songwriter John Hartford's efforts at taking old fiddle music and adding a contemporary spin. Other new tunes, among them "Love Before You Can't," "I'm Lost" and "Drawing a Melody," probe the ups and downs of relationships informing various points of view. With these songs, as with so much of YMSB's previous material, layers can be peeled away to reveal multiple realities harbored within. As has always been the case, ardent lead vocals and tight harmonies deliver Yonder's newest set of words.

For many longtime aficionados of this band, of course, it's the instrumental prowess that draws them in and continues to wow fans at live shows and on recordings. Aijala, Johnston and Kaufmann are all bluegrass slingers in their own right, and with Kral (the former fiddle player for Cornmeal) and Jolliff (a founding member of the now defunct Americana band Joy Kills Sorrow) contributing to the mix on Black Sheep, the band is able to go places that were simply inaccessible before. "The traditional bluegrass lineup allows us to rethink things on different levels," says Johnston, "but at the heart of it all is the same energy and drive and a freewheeling spirit. It's an exciting time for us because we have an invigorating sense of the future. At the end of the day, Yonder is a band with almost two decades of music under its belt, but we're always a bit restless. We want to move the music forward to new places, which keeps us on our musical toes."

Yonder has its roots in the year 1998, when the original quartet came together in Colorado. Through steadfast gigging in all manner of venues from small clubs to massive outdoor festivals, Yonder Mountain String Band quickly built a robust fanbase while continually experimenting to define its sound. Some of the most fervent audiences were at jam band shows and festivals, where fans took readily to YMSB's potent mix of the traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and Doc Watson and the improvisational sensibilities of the Grateful Dead and Phish. Also deeply ingrained in the band, albeit more subtly, was a fierce love for punk, which provided the members with seminal influences while they were growing up. "We didn't even hear bluegrass until our 20s," says Aijala. "Falling in love with the sound of bluegrass instruments, while also having all of these outside influences that had nothing to do with bluegrass - well, what comes out isn't what we envisioned."

With the band's 17th anniversary coming this summer, and an extensive tour schedule featuring the same quintet on Black Sheep, a revitalized Yonder Mountain takes delight in the fact that they are still reaching new fans while simultaneously retaining the characteristics that brought their greater community together in the first place. The loss of one member and the subsequent invitation for some of today's top pickers to help shape their evolving sound brings intriguing opportunities to the table; ones that set YMSB on its newfangled path. Black Sheep is a bold statement, meant to passionately get fans up on their feet and ecstatically dancing, but it's also about embracing the moment. Essential changes are a healthy step in keeping the music alive and well.

"We've been growing over the years and I feel like we really don't have any limitations," says Aijala. "It doesn't feel like work when you get to hang out with people that you care about and play music."

Adds Kaufmann, "It's not just bluegrass - it's progressive. Everything Yonder has ever tried to do, we're doing in this record. It's gonna take some time for fans to get acquainted with the new Yonder. When you make a big change like we did, it's a huge thing. But the band is a force, and the album is such a perfect example of our new direction."

Says Johnston in conclusion, "Yonder Mountain String Band is as durable as bluegrass itself. It changes and morphs and has an open-endedness that makes anything possible."

YMSB will celebrate the national release of Black Sheep at the 42nd Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 18 - 21, 2015), and headlines a special hometown show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre along with Greensky Bluegrass and Fruition on August 21, 2015.

For more information on Yonder Mountain String Band and their forthcoming tour dates, please visit: www.yondermountain.com

Hot Tuna Electric
Hot Tuna Electric

From their days playing together as teenagers to their current acoustic and electric blues, probably no one has more consistently led American music for the last 50 years - yes! - than Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the founders and continuing core members of Hot Tuna.

The pair began playing together while growing up in the Washington D.C. area, where Jack's father was a dentist and Jorma's father a State Department official. Four years younger, Jack continued in junior high, then high school - while playing professional gigs as lead guitarist at night before he was old enough to drive - while Jorma (who had played rhythm guitar to Jack's lead) started college in Ohio, accompanied his family overseas, then returned to college, this time in California.

Along the way, Jorma became enamored of, then committed to, the finger-picking guitar style exemplified by the now-legendary Rev. Gary Davis. Jack, meanwhile, had taken an interest in the electric bass, at the time a controversial instrument in blues, jazz, and folk circles.

In the mid 1960s, Jorma was asked to audition to play guitar for a new band that was forming in San Francisco. Though an acoustic player at heart, he grew interested in the electronic gadgetry that was beginning to make an appearance in the popular music scene - particularly in a primitive processor brought to the audition by a fellow named Ken Kesey - and decided to join that band; soon thereafter he summoned his young friend from Washington, who now played the bass.

Thus was created the unique (then and now) sound that was The Jefferson Airplane. Jorma even contributed the band's name, drawn from a nickname a friend had for the blues-playing Jorma. Jack's experience as a lead guitarist led to a style of bass playing which took the instrument far beyond its traditional role.

While in The Jefferson Airplane, putting together the soundtrack of the 60s, the pair remained loyal to the blues, jazz, bluegrass, and folk influences of the small clubs and larger venues they had learned from years before. While in San Francisco and even in hotel rooms on the road, they would play together and worked up a set of songs that they would often play at clubs in the Bay Area and while on the road, often after having played a set with the Airplane. This led to a record contract; in fact, they had an album recorded before they decided to name their band Hot Tuna. With it they launched on an odyssey which has itself continued for more than 35 years, always finding new and interesting turns in its path forward.

The first thing an early Hot Tuna fans discovered at their concerts of the early 1970s was that the band was growing louder and louder. In an era in which volume often overtrumped musicianship, Hot Tuna provided both. The second thing a fan would discover was that Jack and Jorma really loved to play. "Look around for another band that plays uninterrupted three- to six-hour sets," wrote reviewer Jerry Moore. What Moore could not have known was that had there been no audience at all, they would have played just as long and just as well, so devoted were they to making music. Of course, the audience wasn't superfluous by any means; it energized and continues to energize their performances. Album followed album - more than two dozen in all, not counting solo efforts, side projects, and appearances on the albums of other bands and performers - and they continued to develop their interests and styles, both together and in individual pursuits. In an era in which old bands reunite for one last tour, Hot Tuna can't because Hot Tuna never broke up.

Along the way, they have been joined by a succession of talented musicians: Drummers, harmonica players, keyboardists, backup singers, violinists, mandolinists, and more, all fitting in to Jorma and Jack's current place in the musical spectrum. And along the way there was no list of outstanding guitarists that didn't include Jorma, nor was there anyone who seriously thought there is a better bass player than Jack.

After two decades of acoustic and electric concerts and albums, the 1990s brought a new focus on acoustic music to Hot Tuna. More intimate venues with a more individual connection to the audience became increasingly frequent stops. Soon, the loud electric sound (and the semi trailer load of equipment) disappeared entirely from Hot Tuna tours. Maturity brought the desire to do things not instead of but in addition to being a touring band. Both had become interested in teaching, passing along what they had learned and what they had uniquely developed to a new generation of players.

In 1998 Jorma and his wife Vanessa opened Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, in the beautiful rolling Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio.

Here, on a sprawling and rustic yet modern campus, musicians and would-be musicians come for intensive and enjoyable workshops taught by Jorma, Jack, and other extraordinary players, learning things that range from different styles of playing to songwriting and even storytelling (the musician in performance has to say something while changing that broken string!), to making a song one's own.

In addition, there is now BreakDownWay.com, a unique interactive teaching site that comes closest of anything yet to make individual instruction available to students anywhere there is a computer and an Internet connection.

But the teaching doesn't replace Hot Tuna's busy tour schedule; it's in addition to the tours. Nor have they lighened up their individual schedules. Jack released his first solo CD, Dream Factor, on Eagle Records in 2003. He has a busy and elaborate website at jackcasady.com. Jorma has a website, too, and achieved enormous critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for his 2003 solo album, Blue Country Heart. (Both are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame due to their pioneering work in The Jefferson Airplane.) As 2006 began, they launched another exciting website, Hot Tuna Tunes, where fans may inexpensively download professionally made recordings of full Hot Tuna concerts in both MP3 and lossless encodings, suitable for portable player and home-burned CDs respectively. Hot Tuna Tunes is added to all the time, so it's almost as if Hot Tuna were releasing numerous live concert albums every year. Collect the entire set!

For the last few years, Jorma and Jack have been joined in most of their Hot Tuna performances by the mandolin virtuoso Barry Mitterhoff. A veteran of bluegrass, Celtic, folk, and rock-influenced bands including "Tony Trischka and Skyline" and "Bottle Hill," Barry has found a new voice in working with Hot Tuna, and the fit has been good - watching them play, it's as if he's been there from the beginning and they're all having the time of their lives.

Jorma and Jack certainly could not have imagined, let alone predicted, where playing would take them. It's been a long and fascinating road to numerous exciting destinations. Two things have never changed: They still love to play as much as they did as kids in Washington D.C., and there are still many, many exciting miles yet to travel on their musical odyssey.

Leftover Salmon
Leftover Salmon

Looking back over the past 25 years of rootsy, string-based music, the impact of Leftover Salmon is impossible to deny. Formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slamgrass pioneers took their form of aggressive bluegrass to rock and roll bars at a time when it wasn't so common, helping Salmon become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jamgrass genre. Today, Leftover Salmon is: Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic guitar, washboard); Drew Emmitt (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass); Alwyn Robinson (drums).

Though the lineup would change through the years, the foundation of Leftover Salmon remained strongly rooted in the relationship between co-founders Emmitt, Herman, and banjoist, Mark Vann, proceeding through a decade of constant growth and nonstop touring.

On March 4, 2002, Vann lost his battle with cancer. He was only 39 years old. Herman issued in memoriam: "Mark lived life to its fullest and he would insist that we do so as well," so LoS carried on through a succession of replacement players including Matt Flinner, Scott Vestal, Tony Furtado, and Noam Pikelny, but then took a hiatus from touring at the end of 2004.

Had they never played another note, the Leftover Salmon legacy would have beensecure; but in the summer of 2007, the band were ready to hit the road again. Soon after, banjo phenom Andy Thornwas brought into the group, a new album, Aquatic Hitchhiker, (2012) was recorded and released to critical acclaim, NPR's Mountain Stage, for instance, heralding the group as "one of the most beloved acts on America's summer-festival circuit."

Said Drew Emmitt of the band's resumption, "The time is right for this band to come back on a lot of levels. It's taken us a little while, but I think we're finally there." On September 15th, 2014 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN Herman announced a brand new long player, High Country, set for release on November 28th, Black Friday, initially to participating Record Store Day indie outlets nationwide.

In same breath, Herman announced a brand new long player, High Country, set for release on November 28th, Black Friday, initially to participating Record Store Day indie outlets nationwide.

High Country is a 12-song, rock/country/bluegrass/blues masterpiece, featuring 10 spanking new LoS offerings, including Thorn's rollicking title track complete with requisite blistering banjo solo, Herman's Cajun-flavored kick off, "Get Up And Go," but also sporting 2 covers- a Payne/Robert Hunter tune called, "Bluegrass Pines" and a Lowell George/Keith Godchaux classic, "Six Feet Of Snow," immortalized on Little Feat's, Down On The Farm. Then there's Emmitt's progressive ramble n' roll, "Two Highways," destined to become an LoS classic. All in all, High Country slips seamlessly in and out of character, disposition and style offering the full palette of Leftover Salmon's aesthetic, from lightening-powered pick n' grin to thoughtful blues balladry and all in between. The record's a classic, if we've ever heard one. Not bad for a band just shy of their silver anniversary.

Steve Kimock & Friends feat. Jeff Chimenti, Bobby Vega, Dan "Lebo" Lebowitz, Leslie Mendelson & more
Steve Kimock & Friends

Born into a musical family in Northern California, John Morgan Kimock began composing before he could walk or speak. Prior to moving to the east coast at the age of six, some of John's early musical experiences included playing ceremonial drums with the Pomo Indians, accompanying Tuvan throat singers, and having his drums destroyed onstage at the Fillmore West by Todd Rundgren.

For more than a decade, John has worked in the U.S., Europe, and Canada with many bands and collaborated with his father, acclaimed guitarist Steve Kimock, in various projects which included musicians like George Porter Jr. (the Meters), Bernie Worrell (founding member of Parliament/ Funkadelic), Bobby Vega (Sly Stone) Andy Hess (Black Crowes, Govt Mule), Members of the Grateful Dead, The Other Ones, Jeff Sipe, John Molo, Bruce Hornsby, Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Everyone Orchestra and many more.

In 2006, Glide Magazine gave John their number five spot for second generation rockers alongside Sean Lennon, Jacob Dylan, and The Marleys.

"In today's world of music and musicians it is great and refreshing to hear and play with younger players who not only play great but listen to what is being played around them; truly a gift, John Morgan Kimock has that gift, and I love playing with him." George Porter, Jr.

John continues to play groundbreaking festivals, including a sold-out concert at Lincoln Center with Steve Kimock co-billed with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) scoring silent films for the New York Guitar Festival. John scored music for Brooklyn-based dance company Airealistic and also scored Tinie Tempah's film about his sold-out European arena tour, Discovering Destiny, directed by Jabari Johnson. John toured with Our Griffins from 2012 until 2013, sharing bills with the likes of Lost in the Trees, The Royal Bangs, Bad Suns, and Nightlands.

In 2014, John was tapped by Phish's Mike Gordon to play in his band, an ongoing touring and recording relationship.

Currently John is bi-coastal, spending time both in Burlington, Vermont, and Sonoma County, CA. He has been composing and developing new music with his father for their symbiotic new project, KIMOCK.

The Wailers
The Wailers

Together with Bob Marley, The Wailers have sold over 250 million albums and have played to an estimated 24 million people across the globe performing an average of 200 dates a year. The anchor of the band is Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who in addition to being Marley's most trusted lieutenant and co-producer, played on countless other classic reggae hits throughout the seventies. The authenticity he brings to the Wailers' sound is indisputable and yet today's line-up combines old school know-how with lead vocals from one of Jamaica's most exciting new singers. The Wailers are undoubtedly the world's premier reggae and world music group who bring high energy shows to fans across the globe.

The band performs varied sets from the extensive Wailers discography including those from Legend. Legend is #46 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Legend is also the best-selling reggae album of all-time, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide and a 2014 re-release topped Billboard's Top 5 - proving the timeless appeal of their music spans generations. On its resurgence in popularity, Aston ‘Family Man' Barrett laughs said the following: "It only took 30 years. My life with The Wailers has been an odyssey. To be in the top ten is hard for me to even imagine. We've come so far. Sharing this music with so many people around the world was my last promise to Bob and here we are."

The band also performs selections from Exodus named by Time Magazine as the "Album of the 20th Century", it was released in 1977. In keeping with the band's tradition of touring with album themes, the Wailers have been performing entire sets devoted to songs from the specific albums, Legend, Exodus, Uprising and the album Survival released in 1979.

The current lineup includes Mr. Barrett's young son, Aston Barrett Jr., a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass, drums and organ at varied occasions, helping bring the music forward to a new generation. On drums is Anthony "Benbow" Creary, who recorded and toured wtih the band in the early years. The two lead singers are Dwayne Anglin, known as Danglin and Joshua David Barrett. Lead and rhythm guitar and backing vocals by Audley "Chizzy" Chisholm. On backing vocals is Cegee Victory and keyboards is Chaka Taylor.

Outside of their groundbreaking work with Marley, the Wailers have also played or performed with international acts like Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, and Alpha Blondy, as well as reggae legends such as Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Burning Spear. As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica's reggae tradition, the Wailers have completed innumerable tours, playing to a fan base that continues to grow and expand as new generations of fans are exposed to the music.

Their nucleus formed in 1969, when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers - bassist Aston "Family Man" and drummer Carly - from Lee Perry's Upsetters to play on hits such as Lively Up Yourself, Trenchtown Rock, Duppy Conqueror, and many more besides. Inspired by Rastafari and their ambitions of reaching an international audience, this is the line-up that pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971. Bunny and Peter left two years later. It was at this point that the in-demand Barrett brothers - whose rhythms also underpinned innumerable seventies' reggae hits by other acts - assumed the title of Wailers, and backed Marley on the group's international breakthrough album, Natty Dread. Under Family Man's musical leadership, they then partnered Bob Marley on the succession of hit singles and albums that made him a global icon, winner of several Lifetime Achievement awards, and Jamaica's best-loved musical superstar. Drummer Carlton "Carlie" Barrett died in 1987, leaving his brother as the main beneficiary of the Wailers' mantle.

Their nucleus formed in 1969, when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers - bassist Aston "Family Man" and drummer Carly - from Lee Perry's Upsetters to play on hits such as Lively Up Yourself, Trenchtown Rock, Duppy Conqueror, and many more besides. Inspired by Rastafari and their ambitions of reaching an international audience, this is the line-up that pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971. Bunny and Peter left two years later. It was at this point that the in-demand Barrett brothers - whose rhythms also underpinned innumerable seventies' reggae hits by other acts - assumed the title of Wailers, and backed Marley on the group's international breakthrough album, Natty Dread. Under Family Man's musical leadership, they then partnered Bob Marley on the succession of hit singles and albums that made him a global icon, winner of several Lifetime Achievement awards, and Jamaica's best-loved musical superstar. Drummer Carlton "Carlie" Barrett died in 1987, leaving his brother as the main beneficiary of the Wailers' mantle.

Never ones to be pigeonholed in the past, The Wailers reaffirmed their continuing relevance and versatility in modern music with a guest spot on country superstar Kenny Chesney's hit single, "Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven," and also appeared in a video for the song which was shot in Jamaica. They have just rejoined him for a new single called "Spread the Love," released in June of 2013. Nor have they forgotten their social consciousness, consistently donating proceeds to benefit the World Food Program (WFP) in conjunction with the United Nations, feeding thousands of starving children around the globe.

Now well into their fifth decade, The Wailers truly are living legends who embody the nobility, conviction and progressiveness of Bob Marley and his music. Their journey is far from over as the world awaits The Wailers' next move in their "One Love" revolution. "Our music is the magic," says Fams "the oxygen of the people. It's the message of roots, culture and reality, meant to spread peace and love to all."

Reggae music has never stopped evolving but for millions of people from around the world it's still defined by the songs of Bob Marley and the Wailers. It's been their heartbeat rhythms that have inspired so much of what's followed since, as evidenced by the enduring popularity of the "onedrop" reggae sound.

Melvin Seals and DSO performing a Jerry Garcia Band Set
Melvin Seals

Melvin Seals has been a powerful presence in the music industry for over 30 years with a long-established reputation as a performer, recording artist and producer. Melvin is most revered for his powerful, high-spirited, Hammond B-3 organ, and keyboards in the Jerry Garcia Band. Melvin spun his B-3 magic with the Jerry Garcia Band for 18 years and in doing so helped pioneer and define what has now become "Jam Band Music". From blues to funk to rock to jazz, Melvin Seals serves up a tasty mix with a little R&B and gospel thrown in to spice things up.

Hot Tuna Acoustic
Hot Tuna Acoustic

From their days playing together as teenagers to their current acoustic and electric blues, probably no one has more consistently led American music for the last 50 years - yes! - than Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the founders and continuing core members of Hot Tuna.

The pair began playing together while growing up in the Washington D.C. area, where Jack's father was a dentist and Jorma's father a State Department official. Four years younger, Jack continued in junior high, then high school - while playing professional gigs as lead guitarist at night before he was old enough to drive - while Jorma (who had played rhythm guitar to Jack's lead) started college in Ohio, accompanied his family overseas, then returned to college, this time in California.

Along the way, Jorma became enamored of, then committed to, the finger-picking guitar style exemplified by the now-legendary Rev. Gary Davis. Jack, meanwhile, had taken an interest in the electric bass, at the time a controversial instrument in blues, jazz, and folk circles.

In the mid 1960s, Jorma was asked to audition to play guitar for a new band that was forming in San Francisco. Though an acoustic player at heart, he grew interested in the electronic gadgetry that was beginning to make an appearance in the popular music scene - particularly in a primitive processor brought to the audition by a fellow named Ken Kesey - and decided to join that band; soon thereafter he summoned his young friend from Washington, who now played the bass.

Thus was created the unique (then and now) sound that was The Jefferson Airplane. Jorma even contributed the band's name, drawn from a nickname a friend had for the blues-playing Jorma. Jack's experience as a lead guitarist led to a style of bass playing which took the instrument far beyond its traditional role.

While in The Jefferson Airplane, putting together the soundtrack of the 60s, the pair remained loyal to the blues, jazz, bluegrass, and folk influences of the small clubs and larger venues they had learned from years before. While in San Francisco and even in hotel rooms on the road, they would play together and worked up a set of songs that they would often play at clubs in the Bay Area and while on the road, often after having played a set with the Airplane. This led to a record contract; in fact, they had an album recorded before they decided to name their band Hot Tuna. With it they launched on an odyssey which has itself continued for more than 35 years, always finding new and interesting turns in its path forward.

The first thing an early Hot Tuna fans discovered at their concerts of the early 1970s was that the band was growing louder and louder. In an era in which volume often overtrumped musicianship, Hot Tuna provided both. The second thing a fan would discover was that Jack and Jorma really loved to play. "Look around for another band that plays uninterrupted three- to six-hour sets," wrote reviewer Jerry Moore. What Moore could not have known was that had there been no audience at all, they would have played just as long and just as well, so devoted were they to making music. Of course, the audience wasn't superfluous by any means; it energized and continues to energize their performances. Album followed album - more than two dozen in all, not counting solo efforts, side projects, and appearances on the albums of other bands and performers - and they continued to develop their interests and styles, both together and in individual pursuits. In an era in which old bands reunite for one last tour, Hot Tuna can't because Hot Tuna never broke up.

Along the way, they have been joined by a succession of talented musicians: Drummers, harmonica players, keyboardists, backup singers, violinists, mandolinists, and more, all fitting in to Jorma and Jack's current place in the musical spectrum. And along the way there was no list of outstanding guitarists that didn't include Jorma, nor was there anyone who seriously thought there is a better bass player than Jack.

After two decades of acoustic and electric concerts and albums, the 1990s brought a new focus on acoustic music to Hot Tuna. More intimate venues with a more individual connection to the audience became increasingly frequent stops. Soon, the loud electric sound (and the semi trailer load of equipment) disappeared entirely from Hot Tuna tours. Maturity brought the desire to do things not instead of but in addition to being a touring band. Both had become interested in teaching, passing along what they had learned and what they had uniquely developed to a new generation of players.

In 1998 Jorma and his wife Vanessa opened Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, in the beautiful rolling Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio.

Here, on a sprawling and rustic yet modern campus, musicians and would-be musicians come for intensive and enjoyable workshops taught by Jorma, Jack, and other extraordinary players, learning things that range from different styles of playing to songwriting and even storytelling (the musician in performance has to say something while changing that broken string!), to making a song one's own.

In addition, there is now BreakDownWay.com, a unique interactive teaching site that comes closest of anything yet to make individual instruction available to students anywhere there is a computer and an Internet connection.

But the teaching doesn't replace Hot Tuna's busy tour schedule; it's in addition to the tours. Nor have they lighened up their individual schedules. Jack released his first solo CD, Dream Factor, on Eagle Records in 2003. He has a busy and elaborate website at jackcasady.com. Jorma has a website, too, and achieved enormous critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for his 2003 solo album, Blue Country Heart. (Both are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame due to their pioneering work in The Jefferson Airplane.) As 2006 began, they launched another exciting website, Hot Tuna Tunes, where fans may inexpensively download professionally made recordings of full Hot Tuna concerts in both MP3 and lossless encodings, suitable for portable player and home-burned CDs respectively. Hot Tuna Tunes is added to all the time, so it's almost as if Hot Tuna were releasing numerous live concert albums every year. Collect the entire set!

For the last few years, Jorma and Jack have been joined in most of their Hot Tuna performances by the mandolin virtuoso Barry Mitterhoff. A veteran of bluegrass, Celtic, folk, and rock-influenced bands including "Tony Trischka and Skyline" and "Bottle Hill," Barry has found a new voice in working with Hot Tuna, and the fit has been good - watching them play, it's as if he's been there from the beginning and they're all having the time of their lives.

Jorma and Jack certainly could not have imagined, let alone predicted, where playing would take them. It's been a long and fascinating road to numerous exciting destinations. Two things have never changed: They still love to play as much as they did as kids in Washington D.C., and there are still many, many exciting miles yet to travel on their musical odyssey.

Rumpke Mountain Boys
Rumpke Mountain Boys

The Rumpke Mountain Boys combine signature vocals, a unique command of string instruments (acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and banjo) and dynamic special effects into a singular musical experience. An emotion filled musical stream of consciousness with no setlist, minimal structure, and intuitive improvisational flow. In this way, they summon the energy of the crowd as their guide in linking just the right music to precise moments in time.

Grateful Dead Hour host David Gans proclaimed, "One of the things I love about the Rumpke Mountain Boys is that there's a fundamental honesty in their presentation. This is something they share with my other heroes, Donna the Buffalo and the Grateful Dead. They don't make set lists ahead of time, they don't rehearse their songs to a fare-thee-well-- they perform in real time. All four of them write, which is very important, and they draw songs from a tremendous variety of sources...being a musician is a life-long learning experience, if you're doing it right, and they are."

Like playing around a campfire, the Boys take turns calling the next tune, distilling shows from a sea of infinite notes created from years of jamming. Drawing upon a growing catalog of originals and and an ecclectic mix of covers, the Rumpke Mountain Boys blend music like a fine Irish whiskey-- the result affectionately dubbed Trashgrass. The Boys titled their 2012 album release with the same name, followed by their 2013 release, Moon, which was recorded at the famed Royal Studios in Memphis. The latest studio release, "High Time, Low Tide" is available mid-January.

2015 was outstanding for the string quartet. The Boys played festivals from coast to coast to ever growing audiences including Northwest String Summit and John Hartford Memorial Fest, while forging new ground throughout the west and east coasts including their first New York city show. Finishing up the year with two stellar highlights, their own Snuggleween and the Rumpke Mountain Boys New Years Eve Ball in their hometown of Cincinnati.

2016 promises to be even better, with extensive touring in support of the new album and the best festival lineup yet. Keep your ear to the ground because the Rumpke Mountain Boys are rolling into a town near you!

Like Father, Like Son feat. Rob Eaton, Rob Barraco, Rob Eaton Jr., Tom Barraco plus Robin Sylvester of RatDog
Like Father Like Son

Like Father, Like Son is Rob Eaton, Rob Barraco, Tom Barraco, Rob Eaton Jr. plus Robin Sylvester of RatDog. Band Photo by JC Juanis.

Jeff Mattson
Jeff Mattson

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.

Owsley County
Owsley County

Founded in January of 2012 by Dino English of Dark Star Orchestra. We started as the Very Garcia Band and played exclusively JGB music when Dino was home in Kentucky and off of DSO tour. After 2 great years exploring the Garcia catalog, we've renewed the band as "Owsley County" in order to broaden our musical horizons beyond Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. We're looking forward to a bright future exploring a wide range of musical styles.

Matt Reynolds feat. Hedgepath, Hunter and the DSO Road Crew
Matt Reynolds

Matt Reynolds (mattreynoldsmusic.com) is a singer, songwriter and producer; currently supporting his debut LP, "Been Long Gone"- an album of original music, with roots in americana, country and blues. Reynolds is also the tour manager for Dark Star Orchestra.

Charles Hedgepath (charleshedgepath.com) is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In addition to his many projects (Bad Popes, The Work), Hedgepath accompanies Reynolds whenever possible, offering sage advice and musical prowess.

Jeff Hunter (secondself.net) is the drummer for the Baltimore band Second Self and an extended part of the DSO Road Crew band. Whenever, something vital is needed behind the scenes, Jeff is in the office fielding the call. Hunter also stage manages each year at the Dark Star Jubilee, while joining Reynolds for a second year on drums.

DSO Road Crew:

Bob Dziemian is the newest member of the DSO family, taking over the role of monitor engineer. It was recently discovered that Dziemian could also play a mean bass, becoming an easy edition to the Road Crew band.

Cotter Michaels is the man at the front-of-house console making Dark Star Orchestra sound amazing every night. Some folks don't know he's also a great musician and performer. Look for Cotter Michaels to be joining in the fun as a member of the DSO Road Crew band.

Ellie Sanders is the merchandise manager for Dark Star Orchestra and percussion extraordinaire. Sanders works hard and makes it look easy, rather she's slinging swag or playing tambourine.