Not your typical tribute band 

Kuli Loach pays homage to Grateful Dead, mixes take on classics with original material

click to enlarge Long-time Deadheads Members of Kuli Loach return to Whistler to play a blend of original material and Grateful Dead classics
  • Long-time Deadheads Members of Kuli Loach return to Whistler to play a blend of original material and Grateful Dead classics

Who: Kuli Loach

When: Saturday, June 7, 10 p.m.

Where: GLC

Tickets: $10

With Mick Lane on rhythm guitar, Ed Coke on percussion and harmonica, Ron Dickson on lead guitar, Larry Penoza on bass guitar, and all four on vocals, Kuli Loach seems to have the basics of The Grateful Dead down pat.

This Seattle-based band has been jamming together for over 20 years now, but they just began migrating north to perform in Whistler a few short years ago.

Their last show in Whistler was back in February, when they played to a packed house at Dusty’s.

“We tend to do our best when we can feed off a room like that,” said Dickson. “It kind of self-perpetuates the energy.”

Surprisingly, Deadheads come out of the woodwork, even when they play in small towns like Whistler.

“It seems everywhere you go, if you scratch a little beneath the surface, they’re there,” Dickson said with a laugh.

But Kuli Loach isn’t all about doing covers — they also throw some of their own material into the mix. They’re actually getting ready to head into the studio to record some of their tunes, and are working hard on polishing up some of their own songs.

“We do about a third Dead, about a third of our own stuff, and about a third of others, like Bob Dylan,” Dickson explained, adding that their first few shows in Whistler leaned heavily towards the Dead covers to allow people to get acquainted with the band.

If you missed the last few shows, and haven’t read between the lines yet, it kind of goes without saying that these guys are true Deadheads.

“There’s just a real personal quality to it, that going to a Grateful Dead show is like attending a huge house party with 10,000 of your best friends, and everybody’s friends with the band, and it just had that vibe to it. They were real people, they weren’t rock gods,” Dickson explained.

Hearing Dickson talk about the years before the Dead caught on in the mainstream makes you want to travel back in time, and join in the brotherhood and camaraderie that fans felt with the band.

“When you run into a Deadhead anywhere around, its just like you’ve immediately got this bond with this stranger, and it’s still out there,” Dickson said. “…For a long time, that was a great thing, because they remained our band. It was a secret that you had with your friends — you’d see stickers on cars and you’d pull up alongside and wave.”

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