(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Los Angeles-based Grateful Dead tribute band Cubensis will have former Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick on board for a few California shows in May. 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. The addition of Welnick "is like icing on the cake," says Cubensis founder Craig Marshall. "Having an actual band member sit in with us all night is both humbling and an unbelievable treat."
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 Marshall took his love for the music one step further by assembling a quintet of like-minded musicians. "Cubensis began playing backyard parties and wedding receptions, and soon we were in demand for clubs and festival appearances," he states.
Currently the band plays over 200 shows a year and are known for presenting an faithful tribute sans wigs and fake beards. "We're not 'Beatlemania' for Deadheads," Marshall cautions with obvious disapproval, "but we do manage to tap into the same improvisational flow that the Dead seemed to have discovered. Being intimately involved with this music for so many years as a major fan helps a lot." Marc Ford and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes occasionally make guest appearances with the group.
The band tours with an elaborate light show, San Francisco's Liquid Light Productions, whose 60's-era 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 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 the Dead guru granted his permission for Cubensis to continue playing "as long as you do a good job of it." Marshall feels ever more confident that he is fulfilling his promise to Garcia. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen