As the last of the tents are put back in storage and the coolers are cleaned out and put away; remnants of the last Memorial Day weekend in Thornville, Ohio still float around in the car. A crumpled up festival schedule, a dirty wristband and a disposable camera that was bought right outside the Legend Valley venue litter the floor board. Although the camera holds some of the most beautiful faces and memories from the 6th Annual Dark Star Jubilee, a photo can never capture the feeling that Dark Star Orchestra gives you during one of their Grateful Dead shows. With only 27 photos exposed and wrapped on its reel, those few photos showcase some amazing memories including shows from Dark Star Orchestra and Matt Reynolds.
Each year Dark Star Orchestra plays three full shows at the festival, and just like any Dark Star show, you can expect something different and exciting at each one. Dark Star Orchestra depicts an exact show that the Grateful Dead once played, even down to the length of certain jams. This year was extra special for a few reasons. After Railroad Earth played a beautiful set, opening with “Bird in the House,” Rob Eaton came on stage to deliver a saddening message; Gregg Allman had died that morning. Dark Star dedicated that show to Gregg and performed something truly magical for him. During various jams throughout the show, the band would tease at a variety of Allman Brothers Band songs. The highlight of the night was an elegant instrumental “Melissa” during the second set, a rendition that Gregg himself must of heard in the stars.
Another notable act for the weekend was the performance of Matt Reynolds with Rob Eaton. As a native to Greenville, South Carolina, it was great to see him incorporate his Southern roots into the country-rock set. After I got my disposable camera developed and opened the envelope, it was bittersweet to see Matt’s smiling face on top of all the pictures. I remember taking the photo during “Been Long Gone,” and thinking how happy he looked to be performing on stage with members of the band that he managed as well. A couple of days after getting that photo out, I read the announcement from Dark Star Orchestra, Matt Reynolds unexpectedly passed away. I feel honored to have been at one of Matt’s last shows, watching him do what he loves with the people he loves.
Dark Star Jubilee truly is a unique and wonderful festival. Even with all the amazing musical acts and hard working staff, what brings everything together are the fans themselves. It’s an energy that you feel as soon as you step out of your car, an energy that you can see on everyone’s smiling face. Everyone is family at the Jubilee.
Article by William Mitro