A longtime Deadhead, even catching a few of the last shows, Brian Spirk played electric jam band music for a number of years. Switching from guitar to mandolin, he took to bluegrass and spent the next several years in acoustic combos playing roots music. He always maintained a desire to combine those musics, and in September of 2015 found the right people to form Great Northern String Band - an acoustic tribute to the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garica Band. The goal of the band was to recontextualize the Dead and Jerry's material in an acoustic format. Pulling from any Dead related project has given GNSB wide berth to present a great collection of material that spans not only the Dead's history, but the traditional and modern music the Dead and all of its offshoots incorporated into their repertoires.
Great Northern String Band has a wide appeal. Fans of the Dead will appreciate the top-notch delivery of a wide variety of the Dead/JGB catalogue. Fans of acoustic and roots music will appreciate the strong musicianship and interplay in the band. Fans of dancing and having fun to music will appreciate dancing and having fun. Fans of Norwegian death metal might want to explore some other options.
GNSB can play festivals, bars, nice restaurants, dives, street corners, opera houses, coffee shops, brew houses - damn near anywhere you can fit 8 musicians and some drums.
Wave that flag and smile smile smile. This old engine makes it on time.
Hope to see you out dancing to the music soon.
Khrys Blank (vocals/hand percussion) has become an in-demand singer and percussionist with bands such as Lost on Iddings, Old News, and A-Sides/B-Sides. She's also spreading the gospel of the good old Grateful Dead as a member of Arrows of Neon.
Josh Johnson (drums/vocals) is a long time Dead fan. His skills and deep knowledge of the GD/JGB catalog made him an easy selection for the drum chair in the band. Josh has plied his trade with many notable bands in the area over the years, including the likes of Noah Wotherspoon and Romeo Champagne. He currently holds down the beat in Jericho Thyme.
Classically trained from the early age of 4, John Lardinois (violin) is a member of the Dayton Philharmonic and West Virginia Symphony orchestras. In additional to the classical repertoire, John has expanded his musical education to include various fiddle, jazz. blues and swing styles.
While primarily known for his adventurous and obtuse playing on the electric bass, Greg Lewis (bass) brings his skills to the upright just as effectively - bringing elements of roots music mixed Phil's heady lines to drive the band.
Erich Reith (percussion) is often dubbed "the hardest working man in Dayton" and with good reason. When not playing with Puzzle of Light, Trey Stone & The Ringers, A-Sides/B-Sides, Old News, LOI and probably more by the time you're reading this, he's often sitting in with area bands or playing the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
Rich Reuter (guitar/vocals) can be found around town playing electric with Trey Stone & The Ringers and sometimes acoustically with Khrys and Erich in North Star Society. Rich released his first solo album, The Captain, in February 2016. One of the tracks, "My Own Wings", features GNSB. And while he's often playing Bobby's guitar parts in the band, he refuses to wear the shorts.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who has synthesized the music of the Dead like Jason Riley (guitar/vocals) has. He's a walking encyclopedia of the Dead/JGB catalogue. He's displays a mastery of Jerry's idioms without slavishly sounding like the man himself. You can find him tearing up GD tunes electrically when he fronts Arrows of Neon.
Brian Spirk (mandolin/vocals) stays busy burning up the fretboard with Sawgrass, The Repeating Arms, Nasty Bingo and others as the go-to mandolin player in Dayton. His favorite food is bacon wrapped water chestnuts.
Photos: Kevin Lush Photography