roaring camp felton music hall dark star orchestraEntertainment Festivals Music 

Dark Star Orchestra at Roaring Camp

By Larry Stumpers

May 10, 2021

Smiles! That’s what’s been missing in the masked-up year. And there were smiles galore at this past weekend’s outdoor concert at Roaring Camp in Felton. The crowd was jubilant, dancing, grooving to the renowned Grateful Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra (DSO). Attendees were assigned a “pod” made out of four short stakes with a rope around three sides. People danced in their pods and on the sidelines, some masked, some not. You have to distance at the jam band shows to give folks room to gyrate, so it worked out well.   

Roaring Camp in Felton | Photo by Larry Stumpers

DSO’s claim to fame is that they reproduce the look, sound, and feel of a classic Grateful Dead show from long ago. The May 9th concert reflected the 70s. Back then sometimes Jerry would play a wrong note. The instance is legendary. DSO faithfully re-creates the experience down to the sour plunks. Crazy. 

Felton Music Hall (FMH) has built a big stage at Roaring Camp with wonderful graphics, trains, and trees into a red and yellow sunset. Good job. Hats off to the sound engineers; acoustics were good from all around the venue. Bring earplugs, always.

The collaboration between the two organizations will be a boon for Felton: great acts combined with a stunning location and plenty of parking ($20). For me, only Camp Mather for ancient Strawberry Festivals matches the beauty and layout of the Roaring Camp meadow surrounded by redwoods. Beer in hand, bopping to “Sugar Magnolia” on a postcard afternoon, and then the steam train goes past with the whistleblowing and folks waving. WOW!

There are a series of shows planned this spring and summer, and you can see the list at In September the locale will host the two-day Mountain Sol, with Michael Franti headlining. I have my tickets.

Till next time – see you around the Valley!

Larry Stumpers is the Critic at Large for the San Lorenzo Valley Post. He reports on the live music scene in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Featured photo by Julie Horner

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