New Riders of the Purple Sage @ Canal Room
By Steve Bloom
Due to their Grateful Dead connections, the New Riders of the Purple Sage need no introduction. Even if they haven't toured consistently in over a decade, NRPS conjure good times in the '70s when they opened for the Dead, with Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel guitar.
Four years ago I organized a full-scale reuinion of the New Riders at BB King's in New York as part of the High Times Doobie Awards. We were able to coax John "Marmaduke" Dawson, who wrote and sang most of the band's songs, out of his bunker in San Miguel Allende, Mexico to join David Nelson, Buddy Cage and Nelson's band (bass and drums). Original drummer Spencer Dryden and "Panama Red" songwriter Peter Rowan were last-minute additions to the reunion. NRPS received a Lifetime Achievement Award and performed a five-song set that included "Glendale Train," "Panama Red," "LA Cowboy" and "Henry" ("going' down the mountain/fast, fast, fast").
The version of The New Riders who performed Thursday night did not include Marmaduke. But Nelson, Cage and the replacement players - Michael Falzarano (guitar/vocals), Ronnie Penque (bass/vovals) and Johnny Markowski (drums) - easily sufficed. Nelson, who "picked" with Garcia in the Wildwood Boys, is a legendary guitarist and certainly the best known, along with Garcia, from that very special scene.
NRPS were pioneers of country-rock, now known as alternative-country, or alt-country. Between the Dead, Poco. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the Byrds, the Band, Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline), CSNY, Flying Burrito Brothers, the Stones (Exile on Main Street), even Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection), the New Riders fit right in, mostly because of their pedal-steel style and C&W harmonies.
The three-and-a-half hour Canal Room show was laden with favorites and lengthy jams. Split into two sets, the New Riders peaked early with "I Don't Know You," "Whatcha Gonna Do," "Henry," "LA Cowboy" ("smokin' dope, snortin' coke") and "Louisiana Lady." The second set featured Peter Rowan's stoner classic "Panama Red" ("he'll steal your woman/and he'll rob your head"), "Last Lonely Eagle" (dedicated to Dead roadie Ramrod, who died on Wednesday) and a run of covers ("Willie and the Hand Jive," "Take a Letter, Maria," "Let it Bleed" and the Dead's "Ripple").
NRPS road manager Mark Topazio says Marmaduke is not in proper physical condition to endure a rigorous schedule but has giving the band his blessing. The band is currently in the midst of a nine-date tour: their next shows are Saturday in Fairfield, CT at FTC Stage One and Sunday in Albany, NY at The Egg.
that review isn't from 04/19, it is from last year 05/18.
here is a review from 04/19 if you are interested.
NRPS,04/19/07,Canal Room,New York,NY
Rocky Road Blues
I Don't Know You
Watcha Gonna Do
Instant Armadillo Blues
15 Days Under The Hood
Garden Of Eden
The Last Time
Garden Of Eden
Lonesome LA Cowboy
Absolutely Sweet Marie
Truck Drivin' Man
Take A Letter Maria
* Dead Flowers
What a night!
NRPS ~ 04/19/07
Canal Room, New York, NY
The sun is shining, beers are cold and the NRPS are playing in NYC tonight – perfect!
My friend Rob and I get to the city around 5:00 and meet his friends at their place to partake before the show. Real nice folks they are but now it’s time to go - a quick drive through the madness of NYC and we are at the show. One sticker on the glass door tells you where you are – good thing I went with others that know what it is going on, or I could get lost. NYC is really off the charts in my world. I don’t think I will ever understand the place.
About a 20 minute wait and they then open the doors. Rob gets his dat deck hooked up – the NRPS provided a patch for sbd’s – sweet! They even roped off a section for the tapers and their gear. Very considerate. A slide over to the bar and I see they have Guinness in a bottle, my favorite. This is a good sign.
It took a while for the place to fill up but by showtime the place was pretty crowded, but I don’t think it was sold out – just enough room to be able to move around. By the second set there would be more room, which is fine by me.
Scarecrow came out and played a half dozen songs or so to get the crowd warmed up. Good stuff. And with that the band hit the stage with Toast up there for the introduction. Toast took a few minutes to remind us that this show was part of the Green Apple Series and let us know what we can do to keep this old place rockin – he even mentioned that they had recycled condoms up front. Classic!
The Riders start with a Rocky Road Blues opener. Not much of a jam on this one, but that is expected being the start of the show. They would have plenty of chances to open up later on in the night. The next song was Contract, which I just love. As usual they do this one justice. Then they rip into I Don’t Know You. Tight stuff. As I mentioned earlier the Guinness was flowing so I don’t remember the exact order of things and I don’t have specific memories of each and every song. Sometimes it all blends into one. They jammed real hard and really stretched out on the Instant Armadillo Blues, Groupie and 15 Days Under The Hood. David Nelson was playing up a storm on his guitar during the 15 Days. At one point during the jam I though his guitar might spontaneous combust – it was that smoking! The Diamond Joe during the first set was also real nice to hear. They nailed it. The 15 Days ended the set – seemed like a lot of songs, off to a great start.
Five minute break for 10 minutes, see you in 15 minutes, show starts in 20 mintues, about a half hour from now….or something like that. Outside to catch some fresh( as fresh as NYC air can be!) air and have a smoke. Feeling fine!
During break I was thinking to myself that Garden Of Eden would make an appearance as it was the green apple festival and I was right. They opened the second set with it and it smoked – The Last Time was tucked inside of it and it seemed to me they took a while longer to get there and also to get back into The Garden Of Eden. Flowed really well and was done good. The next four or five songs were all done well with special dues going to Olivia Rose sung and written by Ronnie Penque the bass player. Sounds like a NRPS song. Falzarrano then said it was time for some Buck Owens and I was psyched as I knew it was time for Truck Drivin Man. They jammed the shit out of this one. I think Buddy even took two solos. Rockin! And then Higher, which I think the drummer wrote. Love the lyrics. Panama Red was good and then Take A Letter Maria! The last few songs of the show were a blow out. It sounded like the house sound was cranked right up loud for the end. Some of the dynamics were lost but it was time to let it all hang out and hang it out they did. It seemed to me the Letter Maria went on and one building in intensity as it went. Up until this one, by favorite version played was 05/19/06 at Fairfield CT, but this one may have edged it out. Will have to check the tapes to verify. Regardless it was off the charts. And that ended the set. They encored with Dead Flowers and that was it. Another night with the NRPS! This was the fifth time seeing them and they just keep getting better and better. They are playing close to me again in one month and then I hope to see them in Saranac Lake NY and also the Stone Pony. Can’t get enough of these guys!
So a big thanks to the NRPS and their crew. They are all top notch folks and they put on a great show. That was big time fun! Props to Tim the sound man as he had them dialed in right from the start. The Canal Room was nice place and I would go there again. If you see that the NRPS are playing close to where to live I would say you should go and see them. They don’t disappoint that is for sure.
Keep on rockin!
Gotta love that Truck Driving Man!
Thanks for correcting my post! Nonetheless, they sure have been sounding great these days!
Been sounding good to me these past 9,490 days..
>It seemed to me the Letter Maria went on and one building in intensity as it went. Up until this one, by favorite version played was 05/19/06 at Fairfield CT, but this one may have edged it out. Will have to check the tapes to verify.
after a few listenes the 05/19/06 still sits atop the mountain alone.
So what you are saying is Letter Maria was used as song to do extended "lift off jam" as I call it..??..