Los Angeles-based Grateful Dead tribute Cubensis is set to appear at the Brookdale Lodge on Saturday, April 24. Cubensis faithfully recreates the sights and sounds of Grateful Dead concerts past with their authentic interpretation of the Dead's 35-year run of shows. In the space of a three-hour performance, concertgoers dance to Dead classics such as "Ripple" and "Truckin" while a 60's-style psychedelic light show swirls in the background.
Cubensis has toured extensively throughout the Southwest in their 18 year history. Conceived in 1986 in response to the Dead's all-too-infrequent shows in the Los Angeles area, guitarist Craig Marshall took his love for the music one step further by assembling a quartet of like-minded musicians. "Cubensis began playing backyard parties and wedding receptions, and soon we were in demand for clubs and festival appearances," says Marshall. Currently the band plays over 200 shows a year, and are known for presenting an authentic tribute sans wigs and fake beards. "We're not "Beatlemania" for Deadheads," advises Marshall, "but we do manage to tap into the same improvisational flow that the Dead seems to have discovered." Rock superstars such as former Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes occasionally sit in with the group.
The band tours with an elaborate light show, San Francisco's Liquid Light Productions, whose projected images and abstract fantasies create a visual analog of the music cascading from the stage. Light artist Steve Goldsmith is the "man behind the curtain" who manipulates rainbow-tinted plates of exotic fluids in time with the music. Translucent amoebas of color pulse on screens behind the band, as if the walls themselves had suddenly come alive with an hallucinogenic need to dance.
Marshall actually received Jerry Garcia's blessing to perform his music. On a shared airline flight to Eugene Oregon for the famed Dead/Little Feat pairing, Marshall introduced himself as someone whose band played nothing but Grateful Dead music, to which Garcia replied (in mock surprise), "Oh yeah? So do we!" After that, the two lead guitarists "talked shop" and Garcia granted permission to continue playing "as long as you do a good job of it." Marshall feels ever more confident that Cubensis is fulfilling that obligation.
Brookdale Lodge, Sat April 24, 9pm, $10 at door, 21+
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