Spotlight: Cubensis, The Grateful Dead Tribute Band That Transcends the Label

Music immersion like the old days.

By , Columnist

Cubensis is a type of psychedelic mushroom that contains high amounts of psilocybin. If you chew on some of these “shrooms,” you're going to experience things a little differently. If you're aware of these, then they're the "gold caps" in your stash.

But there's another Cubensis out there that can add an exquisite experience to your music listening (differently from gold caps). The Cubensis that I'm referring to is an LA-based “tribute” band that travel the US West Coast playing the music of Grateful Dead in unique ways.

Instead of the note-for-note perfection that most tribute bands seek (often achieving miserably), Cubensis uses the familiar songs of Grateful Dead as a skeletal base to their own style of playing. They wrap the bones of songs by the Dead with a never-repeated musical beauty much like the Dead themslves produced in their own concerts. Improvisation is the key.

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Cubensis assembled in 1987 with the main goal of delivering an experience. I first ran into Cubensis at a local fair. I was captivated by the first song. 

Normally, tribute bands are an abysmal bunch for many reasons I'll not get into here. How an audience can get into most tribute bands is beyond me. But they do. Cubensis is categorized as a tribute band but actually swallow the “tribute” label by playing originally and with masterful improvisational artistry.


Cubensis is a band of superior musicians who also understand the art of the song. From the lovely CeCe Sherman, whose take on original Dead performer Donna Godchaux is enchanting, to each and every other musician that makes up the band's nucleus, Cubensis is a live band that should not be missed.

Audiences do not come to a Cubensis show for a Dead tribute set, they come for the experience of a Cubensis show. Trust me.

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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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