Cubensis History and alumni

Cubensis History 

CUBENSIS, the band that plays Dead, had its beginnings in 1987 when a group of Deadhead musicians became frustrated with the Dead’s all-too-infrequent visits to Southern California. To fill the gap, guitarist Craig Marshall assembled a group and began to perform at backyard parties and local bars, initially appearing as "Sugar Cubensis" until being repeatedly mistaken for Bjork's band the Sugar Cubes. For clarity the name was pared down to just "Cubensis."

Soon, word got around about this outfit, who used the Dead’s music as a skeletal framework for their own improvisational explorations. To this day, you would have a difficult time calling CUBENSIS a “Dead Cover Band” without admitting they have tapped into the same inspirational wellspring as the Masters themselves. As the LA WEEKLY observes, “Cubensis plays with the same laid-back mastery as the Real McCoy.” Big Brother Skateboard magazine crowned Cubensis as “the nation’s premiere Dead tribute” in their January, 2002 issue.

The Los Angeles-based group has carried the torch in celebration of one of America’s most beloved touring bands. CUBENSIS brings the original, organic Grateful Dead concert experience back to life. Drawing from all eras of the Dead, the band performs improvised sets of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band classics that retain all the spontaneous exploratory jamming for which the bands were renown. However, the music produced is uniquely Cubensis. 
Accordingly, the group has been acclaimed for giving new life to the Grateful Dead’s material, bringing in new styles, new innovations, and new jam band enthusiasts, while at the same time remaining loyal to the original music and the original fans.

Now celebrating their 30th anniversary, CUBENSIS has been privileged to be joined onstage by numerous rock superstars, including Chris Robinson and Marc Ford (Black Crowes), Warren Haynes (Phil & Friends, Allman Bros.), John Molo (Phil & Friends), and both Vince Welnick and Tom Constanten of the Grateful Dead, as well as Melvin Seals of the Jerry Garcia Band. CUBENSIS has appeared extensively at the Southwest’s major venues, including an amazing 50+ performances the House of Blues in Hollywood, Anaheim and Las Vegas. 

Speaking of Jerry Garcia, CUBENSIS guitarist Craig Marshall met him during a shared airplane flight to Eugene, OR for the famous 1990 Dead/ Little Feat pairing. By way of introduction, Marshall said that he was in CUBENSIS, and that they played all Grateful Dead music, to which Garcia replied, in mock surprise, “Oh yeah? So do we!!” Upon that, the two lead guitarists talked shop, and reports of the conversation went viral on the internet. One thing Marshall obtained was Jerry’s blessing to perform the Dead’s music. Garcia’s only requirement was that he “do a good job of it.”

Ever since, CUBENSIS has promised authenticity and delivers pure Grateful Dead-inspired music like it was meant to be heard, keeping the Dead alive and re-creating the magic one show at a time. Don’t miss it!

Behind 14 Below in Santa Monica with the Dead's Vince Welnick

           Early Calico desert party, must have been nippy!


  A young Nate LaPointe emerges as a great "Bobby-style" guitarist       Pictured with Justin Pacuska (center), now with Garcia Birthday Band

P.S. According to information recently received from founding member Chester (original singer/guitarist), the first Cubensis rehearsal was in 1987 in Redondo Beach, CA. Cubensis played a wedding reception for Craig’s sister Ellen in May 1988, and the first actual paid public gig was July 27, 1988 at Club Dead in the San Fernando Valley. Cubensis is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. The name Psilocybe is derived from the Greek roots psilos (ψιλος) and kubê (κυβη), and translates as "bald head". Cubensis means "coming from Cuba", and refers to the type locality published by Earle.

Early promotional literature An early desert party with Brian Lerman, Sam Wayne, Chester, and Craig

And the Long Strange Trip continues!!!

Cubensis Alumni


Steve Harris (RIP) has been drumming for Cubensis since the summer of 1992. Although born in Anaheim, California, Steve grew up in northern Illinois. He began playing alto and baritone saxophones at 12, and began exploring drums at the age of 16. Steve played in several southern California heavy rock bands, including Diamond Lane and Code 3 in the late 80’s before joining Cubensis. After 10 years with Cubensis Steve became one of the primary vocalists in the group. Steve’s influences on drums include Buddy Rich, John Molo, Joey Jordinson, Bernard Purdy, Vinnie Coliuta and Dave Weckl. Vocally he is influenced by Jerry Garcia, Levon Helm, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson. Steve had been sidelined with serious illness for several years, and lost his battle with cancer on February 12, 2017.

Christine “Cece” Sherman grew up on the snowy Mississippi River bluffs of Northern Wisconsin. With the encouragement of her father, a musician and true music lover in his own right, Cece began singing at a very young age, with huge influences from The Beatles, Yes, and Joni Mitchell. Jerry Garcia sang to her in a dream when she was fifteen, and she’s been a lover of all things Grateful Dead ever since. After moving to California in 2002, Cece was determined to nurture her passion for singing and composing her own music. She first encountered Cubensis at the Anaheim House of Blues in January 2006, and was immediately captivated. She contacted Craig Marshall the following day, asking if she could join in on a song or two in an upcoming gig. One song turned into three or four…and now, six years, 500+ shows, a Rocky Mountain tour and countless complex four-part harmonies later, she was still going strong with Cubensis until moving to Portland in 2014. Cece’s show-stopping version of “Sugaree” helped Cubensis win the Dead Covers Project in 2012 after video of the performance went viral.

Alex Jordan has loved making music as long as he can remember. He began playing trumpet in 4th grade but was regularly seen with his trusty Blue Danube “C” harmonica around the campfire. He picked up guitar at age 17 and formed his first band, The Perspectives in his senior year. His father, who was also his high school music teacher, encouraged him to pursue music in college and Alex eventually moved to Southern California to attend The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University Long Beach in the Fall of 2008, majoring in Voice and Music Education. During summer break in SF, Alex played in his second band, Uncommon Sense. Before graduating in 2012, Alex began collaborating with Craig Marshall in building a guitar rig similar to Jerry Garcia’s. He first sat in with Cubensis at the annual Thanksgiving show, eventually joining the band for semi-regular appearances as a substitute for Nate LaPointe (who was touring with Bobby Womack) in March of 2013. Having been in love with the Grateful Dead since age 14, this was and is a dream come true. He really does like long walks on the beach, is a sucker for train rides and good conversation, and occasionally sleeps with his guitars at his side. Go Giants! Alex is currently a member of Midnight North featuring Grahame Lesh.

Other notable alumni...”

C. W. Causer, R.I.P. (drums) 
Richard "Chester" Lawson (guitar, vocals)
Geno Aulicino, R.I.P. (drums)
Brian Lerman (bass)
Ed Lyon (keyboards) currently with WTFB
Samantha Wayne (vocals)
Tim Greutert (keyboards)
Damon Muldavin (drums)
Justin Pacuska (guitar, vocals) currently with Garcia Birthday Band
Susie Phelps (vocals)
Russell Lee Wheeler (keyboards)
Jessica Tilton (vocals)