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This week, a jam sandwich.

Byline: Paul Denison The Register-Guard

Two jam bands, one that lays claim to be the future and one that cherishes the past, will play the McDonald Theatre back to back next week.

The Big Wu will play at 9 p.m. Wednesday, followed by the Dark Star Orchestra at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Jason Fladager (lead guitar, vocals) and Terry VanDeWalker (percussion, vocals) started the Big Wu in 1992 in Northfield, Minn., where they were students at St. Olaf College. Developing a style that fused elements of bluegrass, rock, jazz, psychedelic and R&B, they added bassist Andy Miller (another St. Olaf student) in 1995 and keyboardist Al Oikari in 1996.

The band recently released its debut album, "Tracking Buffalo Through the Bathtub."

Like the Grateful Dead, the Big Wu has fans who consider themselves a family.

"We don't play like the Grateful Dead, but we do play in the same spirit," Fladager says. "Everybody contributes what they can to the collective."

Playing like the Grateful Dead is what the Dark Star Orchestra has been all about since its conception in 1997. That's when John Kadlecik and Scott Larned formed a band to cover entire Grateful Dead shows from specific dates, using set lists from John Scott's Dead- Base.

Kevin Rosen came on board as bassist, and singer Lisa Mackey plays longtime Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Godchaux.

Thursday night's Dark Star Orchestra show will be unusual in one respect. The opening act is the real Donna Jean Godchaux, with her Heart of Gold Band.

Tickets for the Big Wu on Wednesday are $10 in advance or on the day of show. Tickets for the Dark Star Orchestra on Thursday are $18 in advance, $20 day of the show.

You can get them at TicketsWest outlets or at the McDonald box office.

CAPTION(S):

It's another long, strange trip with Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra, playing Thursday at the McDonald Theatre.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 7, 2004
Words:321
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