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The China Cats

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"One of the premier tribute bands in Northern California. The group has spent years infusing the classic sensibilities of the Dead's catalog with their own flair and energy" -- Good Times, Santa Cruz

I had a fine time and enjoyed the music very much.
Rock Scully, former manager, Grateful Dead

A spot-on, outstanding Grateful Dead tribute band
Tom Miller, booking agent, Don Quixote's, Felton, CA

"The China Cats are widely recognized as the top Dead tribute band in the state and for good reason. The band captures the spirit and detailed music of the Dead while adding their own subtle touch. Not just a great tribute band, but a great band in general."
-- Sacramento 365

"Any tribute band can turn out rote performances of the songs of bygone bands, but to truly capture the spirit of another band that's a rare talent. Santa Cruz-based China Cats are unabashedly a Grateful Dead tribute band, but instead of attempting to perform note-perfect renditions of the band’s chestnuts, they attempt to capture that most intangible yet compelling aspect of the Dead’s live shows: the endless jam session. This is no small undertaking, but the China Cats pull it off with an impressive command of their instruments and a symbiotic musical interplay that befits the Grateful Dead's legacy." -- Santa Cruz Weekly

Since 2008, this Bay Area tribute band has been energizing audiences across the West Coast at venues such as Moe's Alley (Santa Cruz), Don Quixote's (Felton), Marilyns on K (Sacramento), Club Fox (Redwood City), Mongo's (Pismo Beach) and various festivals.

Lead guitarist Matt Hartle plays the Jerry Garcia parts with a perfectly balanced approach of dedication to detail and originality. Hartle has worked with members Michael Kang of String Cheese Incident, Henry Kaiser, Greg Anton of Zero, former Dead vocalist Donna Godchaux, former Jerry Garcia Band organist Melvin Seals and many others.

Rhythm guitarist Scott Cooper covers the Bob Weir role, which is no easy feat considering Weir's unique chordal structures and odd-timings, Cooper is also a veteran of the Bay Area music scene who has also worked with members of Furthur, the Dead, Galactic, New Riders of the Purple Sage and many more. His first solo CD reached #5 on the national jam band radio charts.

Keyboardist Steve Sofranko covers the range of all the various Dead keyboard players from Pigpen's bluesy organ playing to Vince Welnick's chimey piano parts. Sofranko's vocal harmonies also add a depth to the music.

Bassist Roger Sideman has studied Phil Lesh's bass lines for years and it shows in his playing. Tasteful, solid, inventive and musical, he has also worked with David Gans, Joe Craven and many others.

Drummer Michael Owens is an in-demand player who is versed in New Orleans jazz, reggae and African drumming.

Armed with a large repertoire of tunes from the Dead's 150-song repertoire, the China Cats, like the Dead, do not repeat songs from one night to the next. Their repertoire spans the Dead's entire career including vintage gems such as "St. Stephen"; epic masterpieces like "Terrapin Station," "Help on the Way -> Slipknot"; Bob Weir jam numbers like "Let it Grow" and "Feel Like a Stranger"; obscurities like "Mission in the Rain" and "Brother Esau", and latter-day nuggets such as "Lazy River Road," "Liberty" and "So Many Roads." Despite their various allegiances, China Cats is a full-fledged band, listening closely to one another as they share the happy tangle that defines Dead-style jams. They relish the use of familiar Dead motifs: bluegrassy phrasing on lines far outside the bluegrass idiom, group pauses with glimmering sustained notes, and overlapping scales that unfurled like maypole ribbons.