What Would You Do?: Kadlecik’s Dilemma

For the past 11 years Dark Star Orchestra guitarist John Kadlecik has been a major part of the band’s epic rise through the music industry from local Dead cover band to one of the top grossing tribute acts in the country. Earlier this year, Kadlecik joined two of his heroes – Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh – as part of a project called Furthur.


Word came down today that Furthur will be playing two shows on December 30 and 31st at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco in addition of a run of shows in the New York City area earlier that month. Problem is, the Dark Star Orchestra already has a show of their own scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Rams Head Live!  in Baltimore for which tickets have been on sale since September 23. Clearly Kadlecik won’t be in Baltimore and Kadlecik also had to miss some DSO shows in November. Add rumors of extensive Furthur dates in 2010 and we have a genuine dilemma.

While it must be nice to be a wanted man, I don’t envy the tough decision that Kadlecik had – or perhaps still has yet – to make: do you choose an opportunity to play with your heroes or the “family” that you built from scratch? DSO has tabbed Donna Jean Godchaux guitarist Jeff Mattson to fill in for Kadlecik in November, but there’s no word yet on who will replace Kadlecik for New Year’s. Obviously we only have limited information about this situation, but bearing that in mind – what band would you choose to play for?

UPDATE: As expected, the band has announced that Zen Tricksters guitarist Jeff Mattson will also fill in for Kadlecik during DSO’s New Year’s run. The announcement also mentions that the reason they didn’t tell fans about the subsitution earlier was “out of respect to Furthur.”

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21 Responses

  1. I’ll kick this off.

    Honestly, I’d stay with DSO. Both Bobby and Phil have other projects and they don’t even let John sing very much. JK seems to love his DSO fans and they’ve established quite the niche for themselves.

  2. Shame on Fake Jerry!!!!
    I think this is a disgrace to DSO fans.
    Bobby and Phil will be dead real soon and then I hope they kick fake jerry out of the band and replace him with Jeff matson.


    NYE MORNING DEW Sung by Phil or Bobby?

  3. This is a total tough call, yes you want to honor your fanbase that you have build for the last 11 years, but just like Rob Barraco who jumped ship to join Phil & Friends (ok fine the Zen Trickers were never on the same level as DSO) you have to think that ultimately when is he ever going to get a chance like this again to A) play with guys that were in the band he idolizes and B) get a pretty decent pay check from it.

    I also think that Bob and Phil learned something from that last Dead tour this past Spring they can’t sell out arenas like they used to and do better doing multi-night runs in smaller theaters and get a chance to better connect with their fans.

    That being said let the guy sing more, isn’t that what the fans are really paying for getting an experience as close to a Grateful Dead concert as they can??

  4. I would play with Furthur. The man has a family and can make much more money. DSO has the potential to tour for years, this may only be a one or two year thing. We need them in Chicago. And they did sell out the Allstate one night and close on the other night.

  5. I understand the notion of wanting to stay with DSO, but Furthur is a brand new, amazing opportunity for many reasons. Isn’t it every cover artist’s hopeless dream to be invited to play with the musicians they emulate? I thought Kadlecik was living the dream when I saw him spraying Jerry-lines around the northeast in ’05 and ’06, but this – this is unreal! It’s unreal, though, because only someone who devoted their career to emulating, albeit with a personal stamp, Jerry’s style could come even close to filling his shoes in a musical improv-space; kudos to Bobby and Phil for realizing that! And, Furthur, kudos to all of them, for realizing that a band in the legacy of The One And Only Grateful Dead isn’t worth $H!+ unless they stay together long enough to REALLY gel. Wanna hear the songs again? Go pull out your old tour pipe and thrown on the records. Furthur is gonna be about the MOMENT, and the MUSIC, and I, for one, am more excited for this than for any Dead legacy project yet.

    … *ahem*


  6. If it was me I’d play with Phil and Bob in a heartbeat. If I was in a band who wrote original music then I’d probably stick with my original band.

    I’m surprised they announced more shows, watching some of the youtube videos from the west coast run it appeared to me they didnt even look like they were enjoying themselves. Phil and Bob rarely made eye contact with John.

    I still find the project somewhat interesting to say the least.

  7. Wow, this stirs up a range of emotions. Look at what Phil has been up to over the years. Chooses not to keep the same guys in a band. Hence, Phil and Friends. Weir–has had the same band, Ratdog, for quite sometime. If they want to give fans the Dead experience with Kadlecik, then work around him and DSO schedule. Or, just get Jeff Mattson. His schedule seems more flexible. Don’t be robber barons!! Either way, Weir and Lesh are just riding the rails, possibly a full blown tour, and then the train will stop and goodbye Russo, and Kadlecik, and Mattson for that fact. I would stay with DSO. But who really knows who is greasing who at this point. Just my 2 cents, in which I am left with O.OO to go to any of these shows anyway.

  8. A Discrace to DSO fans?!?! What the hell does that mean? Last time I checked, DSO fans were DEADHEADS!! Look, the guy has made a career out of the cover band circuit- let him step up on stage, with the Big Boys, and show us all on the hippie’s BIGGEST Stage- NYE in San Francisco, in front of the Phamily- what he is made of. I saw 2 of the 3 shows here in Oakland, which were nice warm-ups- but I’ll reserve judgment till NYE. Look guys, this is his shot! Until he does this, and succeeds, he doesn’t mean alot to most heads- so please, Let JK Play!

  9. Zen Tricksters never on same level as DSO? Listen I love Dark Star, but the Tricksters are celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year! and they did NOT start as a cover band. Just had to get out there

  10. JK is seeing his dreams come true–how can you blame the guy for going with the Furthur thing? Mattson will make a fine substitute for JK. Nobody does Jerry better than this guy! He is an amazing guitarist and a fine singer.

  11. What a dumb debate. Of course, he is going to play with Bob & Phil. Nobody on this earth is so virtuous as to NOT seize that opportunity, and I’d be hard-pressed to believe that each of the other DSO member wouldn’t do the exact same thing if they were given the chance. DSO will go on w/ Mattson or Stu Allen or whomever, and surely the door will be open to JK between Furthur tours (if it even goes on past Spring ’10) — I mean, he is a founder and chief architect of the band and concept. Jeez, Garcia himself toured for three week stretches with JGB in the 89-91 era between GD tours. With some advance planning (which was only absent b/c they wanted to wait and see what happened with the Fox run), I’m sure JK can do the same if he can arrange it. Whatever the case may be, to the naysayers I say “come on!” He deserves to live the dream and he has more than paid his dues for over a decade. Who among us wouldn’t want our dreams to come true. It is heartwarming to watch.

  12. A tough call, but I’ll throw my $.02 in with the “let him live the dream” argument. He’s more than earned it. I can’t imagine the DSO guys begrudge him anything; they’re stand-up guys (and lady), all.

    There’s nothing to suggest it’s the end of JK’s role with DSO, and I’m sure he’s had long conversations with the others, especially Barraco — who was himself on the big stage with PLF and the Dead for all that time — over whether to do it. Given Phil’s track record with keeping bands together — I’m sad we’ve seen nothing more from the Jackie/Larry PLF lineup; that had some real legs — who knows how long it’ll last anyway? Enjoy it. Live the moment.

    I’ve yet to see Furthur but the boots from Oakland convinced me to do both nights at Hammerstein. Let JK sing more, absolutely.

  13. this is ridiculous. john is living the dream. read between the lines, phil’s 70 i think and he is playing better than ever and now in without question the greatest band in circulation since july 95. this is it. dso fans will have decades of shows to see with john. can you imagine how much more developed he will be (as everyone is) from playing with new people, not to mention that he is playing with original members of a band he has spent his life emulating. the question is utterly ridiculous. i miss the days when the internet didn’t exit to allow bored selfish little children to unanimously piss on the community. i’m not a gambling man but i’d wager that anyone who is bitter about john’s TEMPORARY leave never experienced the majesty of The Grateful Dead live and have little to give to the community besides the imposition of their own agenda. mattson is a saint for connecting the dots, he understands what family means, i hope he gets the chance at some point to catch Furthur. Nothing in the universe of music has touched this in at least 14 years.
    john, you are doing right. oaksterdam was like a baptism and the fountain of youth to me. thank you for bringing me home.

  14. Furthur brings the music to a greater audience. That should be enough for everyone. I imagine lots of Deadheads didn’t want Jerry to play in the JGB much. What a silly notion that is now in retrospect. Let John play with the big boys. DSO will always be there. Let him make some money and get the music out to more folks. I’m very happy that Phil and Bob have decided to allow a Jerry stylist to hold the band down. (now just tighten up and play more rhythm please!!)

  15. I think it was a mistake. Phil now and Bobby now are not the Phil then and Bobby then of the GD, just as nobody in particular is storming the barn doors to play in the style of Jerry Garcia, say, in 1995. True, they are competent musicians but DSO was a great band because they captured the magic of the GD at their peak–they were as legitimate a vehicle for that as any of the post-Dead incarnations involving original members. So now John gets to play as a second-billed hired hand as long as he isn’t “too Jerry” and doesn’t sing too much in a combo that is no better than the one he left and is marketed as Phil and Bob’s Big Thing. Beats me why he did it.

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