Zach Nugent

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The sun came out bathing the Ventura fairgrounds in a beautiful orange glow as sleepy festival goers woke from a long night of music and partying. The noontime drum circle was the wake-up call for many. But it wasn’t until about 3 PM, when Northern California’s premiere Grateful Dead cover band, the China Cats took the stage, that most people finally gathered together for a dance jam. The group formed in 2008 in Santa Cruz California and has garnered a loyal following since.

Since the Grateful Dead has always cherished weirdness as a super-positive adjective, it’s not totally surprising that the post-Dead scene should have the weirdest possible outcome….namely, instead of fading away, Dead-Head-ism is growing just as it always has.  Now, it turns out, Dead Heads are fans of the music even more than the band, so that who’s playing the music is mostly a matter of taste and choice.

In a three-set, five hour night of music at the Warfield Theatre on February 25 that began with an unusual David Nelson Band performance, the current, proficient Melvin Seals and JGB turned in an fine set before giving way to special band roster, also led by monster organist Seals, but with the addition of Stu Allen on lead guitar, Oteil Burbridge on bass and 1980s-‘90s-era JGB v

The air was crackling with energy last Saturday night as fans piled into The Warfield to witness a tribute to hometown hero Jerry Garcia. The significance of the venue was certainly not lost on the audience, smiles abounding through the crowd on the floor of the theater, which provided a home-base for the Jerry Garcia Band in the 1980s and 90s. Garcia performed at the hallowed venue 88 times, and the memories of countless transcendent nights of music have seeped into the bones of the old theater.

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