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John Kadlecik was born on June 28, 1969 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His father a city manager, and his mother an artist, John's family moved every few years, and he grew up in several mid-western towns. Omaha, Nebraska; Cincinnati, Ohio; and then, in Davenport, Iowa at the age of nine, John began to study classical violin. Moving to Palatine, Illinois in the Chicago suburbs at the beginning of his high school years, John caught the rock-n-roll bug, and, on a quest to understand improvisation, began teaching himself guitar and mandolin. While still in high school, John played guitar in several bands, covering a broad spectrum of American and British "guitar rock" as well as writing songs and learning the rudiments of multi-track recording.
John flirted briefly with college life, going to William Rainey Harper College as a classical guitar music major. But, he began living on his own, and found work, school, and his own local bands to be too much on his plate. It was during this time that a friend turned John onto the Grateful Dead. He fell in love instantly, and, shortly thereafter, dropped out of college. By this time, however, John was already playing out a few times a year, anywhere an underage musician could find a gig, and Chicago would be where he called home for the next fifteen years of his life.
Once he turned twenty-one, John began playing regularly with several local and regional groups, most notably Hairball Willie and Uncle John's Band. While most of the bands he played with wrote their own music, in 1997 John co-founded the group, Dark Star Orchestra, a band exclusively devoted to playing the well-documented actual setlists of the Grateful Dead. Originally started as a side-project house band for some of the best local deadhead musicians, "DSO" rapidly became a nationally touring band, attracting many guests to join them onstage, including John Fishman, Mike Gordon, Sam Bush, Jorma Kaukonen John Popper, Sanjay Mishra, Tom Constanten, Vince Welnick, Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir to name a few.
While spending the better part of twelve years of his life touring with DSO, John also found time for other musical projects, both live and studio. A bluegrass band, numerous short-lived original groups, and then in 2003 John began playing sporadically with Melvin Seals. Out of those shows came a group with Melvin called The Mix, also featuring Greg Anton, Jeff Pevar, and Kevin Rosen. The Mix toured nationally and went on to sign a recording contract, releasing a full length CD in 2004 titled, American Spring, but eventually disbanded for lack time in everyone's schedule to tour. And then, of course, in 2009 John departed from Dark Star Orchestra to join Furthur.
John now lives near Washington, DC with his wife, Katy Gaughan, and, when not on the road with Furthur, performs in the DC area with the newly formed and simply named John K Band, as well as solo acoustic and special guest appearances.