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Performing for nearly a decade and nearly 200 shows, China Cats continues the musical tradition of the Grateful Dead while throwing a new kind of gasoline on the fire. On any given night the band will play songs from throughout the Dead's 30-year repertoire. Their joy and enthusiasm for making music together is so contagious that the band has featured guest appearances from Grateful Dead alum, including original member Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay. Melvin Seals of the Jerry Garcia Band has sporadically joined the band since 2013. China Cats performs throughout California including a recent series at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, which belongs to Dead bassist Phil Lesh.
Each performance is a new, communal journey. Band members seek out a unique style and sound while paying homage to the spirit of the Dead.
On these tunes, there are certain things that are specific, and certain things that are wide open to interpretation," guitarist Matt Hartle told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's never about going back. It's always looking to the present moment that we're having. We're not playing the 1973 version of the song or the '79 or the '92 version. Every time the China Cats play a song, it's a new experience."
Matt Hartle brings experience from collaborations with Dead-family musicians including Henry Kaiser, Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident), and is a current member of Painted Mandolin with former Garcia-Grisman instrumentalist Joe Craven. Rhythm guitarist Scott Cooper has recorded with members of Little Feat, Galactic, David Nelson Band, New Riders. His debut solo CD reached #5 on the Relix jam band radio charts. Steve regularly plays keys in Stu Allen & Mars Hotel. Roger formerly played bass in David Gans & the Sycamore Slough String Band and has performed with artists such as Frank Wakefield. Michael is an in-demand drummer who is versed in New Orleans, jazz, reggae and African styles.:
Matt Hartle, lead guitar and vocals
Scott Cooper, rhythm guitar and vocals
Steve Sofranko, keyboards and vocals
Rockin' Roger, bass and vocals
Michael Owens, drums
1535 Commercial Way
Santa Cruz, CA, 95065