The China Cats

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The China Cats are the premier Grateful Dead tribute band in Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area. Formed in 2008 as the band “Dough Knees,” by Scott, Roger, Steve, and original lead guitarist Theo Wilson, they regrouped in 2009 as the China Cats, brought Mike Owens on board as permanent drummer, and with Matt Hartle taking over the lead guitar chair in 2010, with the first appearance of the current lineup being on March 27, 2010 at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz. Since that time, the China Cats have played all over Northern California. Additionally, we’ve put on shows with many guest musicians, including: Donna Jean Godchaux, Melvin Seals, Burt Lewis, Sunshine Becker, Paul Garcia, Bret Bailey, Jeff Faust, Amy Gabel Berry, Mike Meagher, Rob Wenig, Paige Clem, Neil Hampton, Dave Faulkner, Andy Birchett, Mark Corsolini, Keith Graves, Jimmy Hubbard, Jim Lewin, Will McCosker, and Jerry Brown.
Matt Hartle
Matt joined the China Cats in the spring of 2010. Prior to that he spent a decade as lead guitarist for Shady Groove. He has jammed with the likes of John Kadlecik, Steve Kimock, Barry Sless, Melvin Seals, Vince Welnick, New Monsoon, David Gans and many others. He also currently heads his own bands Spirit of ’76 and Painted Mandolin. Matt also offers guitar, piano, and music theory lessons to students of all ages.
Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper covers the Bob Weir and rhythm guitar parts in the China Cats. A veteran of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, Scott has performed with Donna Godchaux, Stu Allen, Rob Barraco (Phil & Friends), Rob Koritz (DSO), Bill Laymon (NRPS), Jim Lewin (Great American Taxi) and many others. Scott has also recorded with Relix Records’ Stackabones (featuring Howard Wales and George Marsh). When not working with the China Cats, Scott teaches guitar at UC-Santa Cruz, fronts his own band (Scotty & The Barrelmakers) as well as regular gigs with the Gary Gates Band. In a previous incarnation, Scott played drums with blues legends Johnny Shines and Luther Tucker.
Steve Sofranko
Steven Sofranko plays organ and piano with China Cats. Steve is a veteran of the NorCal jamband scene; he played with Burnt Toast (later MojoHana) in Lake Tahoe in the early 90s – highlights of his tenure with that band include opening for the Jerry Garcia Band at CalExpo and at the Warfield. After moving to Sonoma County, Steve was a founding member of Zig, and also played with Animal Farm and Noodle, before relocating to Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, Steve has been a member of Zyg, Shady Groove, the Matt Hartle Band, Time Loves a Hero, the Wheel Co. Tribute House Band, and many other. Steve was a founding member of Dough Knees, and rejoined the band (as the China Cats) in 2010. Steve currently plays a Nord Stage 88 and a Hammond XK-2 Organ through a vintage Leslie 145 speaker cabinet. Steve also plays with Cosmic Pinball, Spirit of ’76, sometimes with The Gary Gates Band, and frequently with Stu Allen & Mars Hotel.
Rockin’ Roger
When not playing with China Cats, Roger plays a range of styles on electric and upright bass, He has performed or recorded with Everyone Orchestra, David Nelson, Frank Wakefield, Michael Kang, Stu Allen and Mars Hotel, Melvin Seals, Mark Karan, Chris Berry, Aaron Redner, Jason Crosby, Henry Kaiser, James Nash, David Gans, Sunshine Becker, and Rob Barraco. He currently performs in several Bay Area projects including Painted Mandolin (with Matt Hartle, Larry Graff, and Joe Craven).
Michael Owens
Michael Owens is an in-demand player who is versed in New Orleans, jazz, reggae and African drumming. Mike also plays with the Post Street Rhythm Peddlers and Southern Pacific.

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