There was a nip to the air in Delray Beach the first night of the 12th Annual Garlic Festival. Bright, flashing lights radiated from the small carnival erected in the park for the kiddies, but most knew the real action was a few yards away where a great canopy tent was erected above a stage.
Best known for replicating classic Grateful Dead concerts, it is no surprise that Dark Star Orchestra attracted a peculiar crowd to the 12th annual Garlic Festival in downtown Delray Beach this year. While some folks arrived as the gates opened at 5 p.m. in time for festival opener, Texas Party Killers, and more for hometown blues heroes, The Fabulous Fleetwoods, it was no secret that the vast majority showed up to get down with some Dead.
Tie-dyes and dreadlocks peppered the gathering of young jam-heads and aging hippies revisiting their wilder, hazier days. When Dark Star got going, bodies piled in beneath the canopy tent. Some laid out blankets. Others were content with a little space to groove around in.
Dark Star performed their rendition of the Grateful Dead on January 11, 1978 in Los Angeles, California. Balloons drifted amid an extravagant light show while the band inspired loud sing-alongs with Dead classics like “Samson and Delilah,” and “Brown-Eyed Woman.” Highlighting the second set was an extended medley featuring Dead staples “Terrapin Station,” “Playing in the Band,” “St. Stephen” and “Not Fade Away” (listen here) They flowed seamlessly along songs, with lengthy, rambling musical interludes true to the band they emulate so well.
After the concert ended at 11 p.m., folks packed into the Bull Bar just across the street from the festival grounds for more drinks and music by Boca Raton cover outfit, The Flyers. Dark Star Orchestra guitarist and singer Rob Eaton was there as well, checking out the band and enjoying a well-deserved beer.
“For us, coming down for warm weather is always good,” said Eaton. While Dark Star Orchestra couldn’t play south Florida last year due to their gig aboard the Jam Cruise, Eaton was happy the band was able to play down here again. “There are a lot of great people here,” said Eaton.
Check back tomorrow for night two of the Garlic Festival featuring Buddy Guy!