We arrived at the Val-Air Ballroom about 15 minutes before showtime on Monday night and the parking lot appeared to be empty. This was unexpected, as in the past The Dark Star Orchestra had always drawn pretty well in Des Moines. There were a few cars in east parking lot but the west side of the building sat vacant. I could see that a small crowd had gathered near the entrance to the ballroom, but it wasn't close to what I expected. Typically, there would be a line that stretched out into the parking area.
Cveckian and I wandered up, me half expecting the security officer to tell me that the concert had been cancelled. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that there were only a handful of people there. Turns out it wasn't cancelled, but according to the security officer, the Val Air had made a mistake and advertised the concert as a Sunday show. This validated my own thinking - I had posted on my Facebook wall on Sunday morning that the Dark Star Orchestra concert was that night, only to be corrected by several people who provided links and proved that it was indeed on Monday. By that time the Val Air had caught their mistake and made the proper changes on their website. This caused considerable confusion on my part, and I couldn't figure out why I would think otherwise. Now I knew.
"We are only expecting about 200 people," the security guard told me. That was quite a contrast to when I had seen the band a few weeks prior at the sold out Dark Star Jubilee in Thorndale, Ohio. 5000 people attended that event.
Cveckian and I made our way inside just as the lights went down. The concert started with Rob Eaton telling the crowd about the difficult day his band had experienced. A major storm had blown through during the afternoon, and many pockets of Des Moines and West Des Moines were left without electricity.
"We pulled in about 12:30 this afternoon, and shortly after that, the building lost power," he explained. We sat around, until just a couple hours ago when the power came back on. Somehow our incredible stage crew got everything together and has us ready to go." The band broke into "Alabama Getaway" and the party was on. (Entire set list at the bottom.)
|Rob Eaton of Dark Star Orchestra This and all photos by|
Cveckian and the Bigfoot Diaries (Click to enlarge)
|Jeff Mattson, formerly of the Zen Tricksters plays the part of Jerry Garcia|
|Jeff Mattson, Rob Eaton and Lisa Mackey sing "They Love Each Other."|
|Skip Vangelas plays bass with DSO.|
|Wide view shot of the band|
|Rob Eaton and Lisa Mackey in the dark|
|Rob Eaton and Lisa Mackey in the light|
|Jeff Mattson and Rob Eaton find the groove in "I Need a Miracle."|
|The audience, though small brought their brightest smiles.|
|Rob Barraco is an incredibly tight keyboard player. He shifted back and forth all night|
between his Kurzweil and his Hammond B3.
|Jeff Mattson and Dino English keeping it on the tracks.|
|Dino English and Rob Koritz master the drums during the Drums/Space segment.|
|DSO in their wide shot glory.|
|Rob Eaton and Lisa Mackey during "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad."|
|The band turns it up a notch.|
|The Dark Star Orchestra played til after midnight. Not a bad way to end a rainy Monday.|
Set One: Alabama Getaway, Picasso Moon, They Love Each Other, It's All Over Now, Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Looks Like Rain, Dire Wolf, Mama Tried, Mexicali Blues, Touch of Grey
Set Two: Feel Like A Stranger > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider > Man Smart (Woman Smarter) > Foolish Heart > Drums > Space > I Need A Miracle > Visions Of Johanna > Gimmee Some Lovin' > Going Down The Road Feeling Bad > Johnny B. Goode
Encore: Forever Young