Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra will make its first appearance at the Summer Art Festival since 2012. SUSANA MILLMAN/CONTRIBUTED

Summer Arts Festival gets Grateful Dead tribute band

Dark Star Orchestra to play free event.

The Dead vibe will arise in Springfield again this summer.

Don’t buy any arms or make zombie apocalypse plans just yet, this is one Summer Arts Festival fans have been asking for.


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Dark Star Orchestra, the Grateful Dead tribute act that has performed to large crowds at Turner Pavilion in the past, will return to the Festival at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, for the first time in five years.

While many fans of the band have been disappointed they haven’t appeared here in recent summers, Springfield Arts Council Executive Director Tim Rowe said it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.

“We have attempted to book Dark Star Orchestra every year since 2012 but they’ve always had conflicts,” he said. “They travel the country and it was difficult to find matching availability. We continued and it came down to finding a mutually available date.”

Booking shows for the Summer Arts Festival is never as easy as it sounds. Rowe said it comes down to availability.

The discussions began in December, exploring a number of dates. The Arts Council wasn’t contractually allowed to announce the addition of Dark Star Orchestra because of a ticketed festival it headlined in Thornville, Ohio over Memorial Day weekend.

“They are a business and we respect that our free festival could keep people from buying a ticket,” Rowe said. “We had a chance to book other acts but we listened to the fans who have been patient for this.”

Another consideration was the cost as Dark Star Orchestra is one of the most expensive acts on the festival schedule to secure according to Rowe, and it isn’t completely covered by that date’s sponsorship.

It includes having extra security and this runs longer than most festival shows. Most run about two hours and this one goes for around three hours.

“We’re glad we could accommodate this show this year and hope the fans let us know how much they appreciate it when we pass the hat at intermission,” said Rowe.

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