Band brings back the Dead at OC Tavern
Deadheads, it's time to reunite and bring back the faithful.
Cubensis, a Grateful Dead tribute band based in Los Angeles, is doing a series of concerts at OC Tavern in San Clemente. One of them will be at 10 p.m. Saturday at the bar and restaurant at 2369 S. El Camino Real.
"Cubensis did a series of monthly shows last summer which were interrupted when the OC Tavern switched over to off-track betting," guitarist Craig Marshall said. "Now that the betting effort has settled in, they approached us to resume the monthly concert series. We like it because we have a lot of fans in the area who either have to drive to San Diego or Long Beach to see us, so it's better we go to them."
Cubensis performed Feb. 4 at OC Tavern. After Saturday's show, the band will return April 7, June 2 and July 7. At some of the performances, there may be a bonus as Barney Doyle, former owner of San Clemente Wine Co. and a former Mickey Hart Band guitarist, sits in with the band.
"I first saw Barney Doyle performing with Mickey Hart Band at The Grove several years ago," Marshall said. "He eventually introduced himself at one of our shows, and we invited him to sit in for a song, then later a set. Now he joins us every time we play in south Orange County, plus he was with us on New Year's Eve."
Doyle can't make Saturday's show because of an out-of-town commitment, Marshall said.
Cubensis tries to resurrect the aura that used to follow the Grateful Dead, which from 1965 to 1995 developed a cultlike following known as Deadheads. Cubensis performs Grateful Dead songs along with tunes that Dead leader Jerry Garcia recorded with his Jerry Garcia Band. Garcia's death in 1995 silenced the iconic band, but Cubensis, which dates to 1987, performs some 150 shows a year.
"Cubensis most definitely has a rabid and faithful fan base that shows up to most of our shows, along with locals," Marshall said. "Some of our longtime fans are now introducing their adult children to the scene.
"Because so many people see us over and over, we rotate the set list, trying not to be repetitious with the 250 Dead and Jerry Garcia Band songs we perform. Typically, though, newbie fans will always ask for the greatest hits such as 'Touch of Grey' or 'Scarlet Begonias,' and we end up playing some of those gems a little more often."
Marshall said the band won't wear wigs or fake beards to re-create the Dead look. Nor does the band try to play Dead tunes note for note.
"We use the music as a skeleton, and then we flesh it out with our own improvisations," Marshall said. "The Dead did that every time they played, and we find it to be a perfect model for our shows. The fans agree. They love hearing our interpretation of the Dead."
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