New Riders of the Purple Sage

The cosmic cowboy New Riders began in 1969 as a side project for Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia to try his hand on pedal steel; the name copped from Zane Grey's classic western novel. Garcia soon dropped out, replaced by Buddy Cage, who joined guitarists David Nelson and John Dawson, and a shifting cast of Bay Area luminaries. Playing the western schtick and outlaw tenor of the times to the hilt, NRPS rode the concert trails throughout the '70s, producing a handful of memorable albums and hippie anthems like Peter Rowan's "Panama Red." The remnants of the band petered out in the early '80s, only to be revived in 2005 by Nelson, Cage, former Hot Tuna guitarist Michael Falzarano, drummer Johnny Markowski, and bassist Ron Penque. Dawson has health problems and is living in Mexico, but has written at least one new song for the new New Riders. Nelson has more new material, some written with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. The band has been touring tirelessly of late, playing all the old stuff and some new, with reviews suggesting the loosey-goosey style of the old days has tightened up considerably. As a bonus, the word is there's a good chance one or more members of the Radiators may show and sit in with the Riders after their zoo gig.
Fri., June 20, 9 p.m., 2008

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