Hudson area band steps out for April 22 Grateful Dead tribute concert

by Dan Holland

For the Hudson-based Orazen Tavern Band, dead is where it’s all at.

Residents Mike Orazen and Rob Pierson had performed as an acoustic guitar duo for years when they decided, more recently, to piece together a full band focused on the music of the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band and other similar selections. They named their band after an outbuilding located on Orazen’s business property on South Chillicothe Road in Aurora.

The Orazen Tavern Band (l-r) Mike Orazen, Sam Korach, Brandt Evans, Rich Porter,
Dave Atchison and Rob Pierson will be featured performers at a regional Earth Day
fundraiser organized by and for people who like The Grateful Dead.
Photo submitted.

“When I bought the building a few years ago, it also included a 1,000 square-foot outbuilding,” explained Orazen, who owns Orazen Extruded Polymers. “I cleaned the building out, and I turned it into a private tavern with barnwood and a stage. Generally, when we play, we mainly play out of the tavern and have parties where we add a 20-by-60-foot tent onto it. It has a sound system and bar. So, six or seven times a year, we have a party with anywhere from 100 to 300 people.”

The tavern, however, will be closed on Earth Day as OTB takes the stage as one of two featured acts at an April 22 concert at Brothers Lounge in Cleveland. The annual music event is sponsored by Networking is Dead, a local organization that brings together like-minded Deadheads.

Pierson became involved with Networking is Dead in 2018 while attending one of its music events.

“I’m a bit of a Snuffleupagus – to reference a Sesame Street character – as I didn’t get out much,” he said. “So, I owed it to my wife, who was able to get connected to Networking is Dead through some mutual friends in Hudson, and they invited us to go along because they knew we like Grateful Dead music and that music genre. It’s just people who share an interest in and like the same type of music, and it’s an opportunity for professionals to meet each other that have that common interest. They typically sponsor a fundraising event for different charities in Northeast Ohio.”

The April 22 event will benefit Food Strong, a local nonprofit organization.

Other OTB band members include Lance Roper (guitar), Rich Porter (bass), Dave Atchison (drums), Sam Korach (keyboards), Brandt Evans (percussion) and Billy Vidmar (sound technician). A majority of the members live in Hudson.

The band has previously played the “Rock the Clock” event in Hudson on two occasions, an annual event organized by Evans, a chef who owns and operates Comida Hudson and Blue Canyon in Twinsburg.

In addition to the Earth Day show, OTB has an upcoming gig April 15 playing a fraternity party at Miami University in Oxford where Orazen’s daughter attends school. Other shows are in the works.

Orazen and Pierson both expect the upcoming show at Brother’s Lounge to be a thrill for everyone involved.

“I spent most of my career playing solo acoustic guitar,” said Orazen. “The first time I picked up an electric guitar was about two-and-a-half years ago, and now I’m supposed to be Jerry Garcia, which is not easy. So, I’m a little nervous but also excited at the same time because of the fact that folks who will be there know the music really well.”

“I’m excited anytime we can share the passion that we have for music, which is my primary hobby,” added Pierson. “I love getting together with the guys in the band, and I love sharing that music with others. It’s great to support Networking is Dead as well. I think it’s really cool how they create these fundraisers for local charities, and to be able to be a part of that and contribute is awesome. That’s what it’s all about.”

Find out more about OTB and the concert at ∞

Featured Photo: The Orazen Tavern Band.