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New Riders of the Purple Sage – 17 PINE AVENUE (Woodstock Records)

By Brian Robbins

Listen: if somehow you’ve missed crossing paths with the New Riders Of The Purple Sage since their 2005 renaissance, then you need to understand something. This is not a band of tired, tie-dyed troubadours seeing out their later years, going through the motions and rehashing their greatest hits – these crazy bastards are still full of life; full of fire; full of music. 17 Pine Avenue is the latest round of proof: a killer studio album featuring a dozen cuts that show off the depth of the band’s talent and their passion for what they’re doing. In short, this is no oldies band, boys and girls – this is a happening thang. Guitarist Michael Falzarano did duty on both sides of the glass for 17 Pine Avenue, handling production chores as well as acting as the liaison between the rhythm of the engine room (drummer Johnny Markowski and bassist Ronnie Penque) and the pickers in the wheelhouse (guitarist David Nelson and Buddy Cage on pedal steel). Keep an ear out for Falzarano’s off-mic heys and yelps, ushering in Nelson’s B-bender Tele or Cage’s steel … they’re little, tiny windows into the kind of excitement this bunch still feels when they’re in the heat of a jam. The album’s mix is just right: fairly dry and immediate, with a few wisps of psychedelic weirdness here and there – but nary a studio trick in sight. (None needed: this is simply a matter of a band of vets playing their asses off and sounding like they’re having a good time doing it.)  Johnny Markowski contributes a pair of tunes to 17 Pine Avenue : Down For The Ride contains just the right balance of weariness, sweetness, coolness, and hope, combined with a draw-off-and-let-it-fly singalong chorus and a pedal steel break by the legendary Cage that’ll break your goddamn heart. “I Know There’s Someone Else” finds Markowski channeling the late, great Marmaduke Dawson with the sort of headneck romp that made the Riders famous in the first place. (Catch the cool Hammond work by guest Professor Louie and the spark-throwing interplay between Cage and Nelson in the song’s final minute.) Ronnie Penque (he of the serpentine, syrupy bass lines that both anchor the weirdness and encourage it) takes the lead on “Shake That Thing”, a funky, nasty shimmyshake with psychedelic undertones. Falzarano’s “Just The Way It Goes” is chock full of I-wish-you-well-but-I’ve-had-enough-of-this-shit bittersweetness and at least two arms’ worth of tattoo material (example: “I’ve got my ducks in a row/Now I’m gonna shoot ‘em down”). His reworking of the old traditional “Truth Is Dead” takes things home with a message that’s as much a challenge as it is a warning. “Hey, darlin’ … wanna dance?” asks Falzarano just before the fade, the consummate cosmic cowboy Nero. And then you have the tunes penned by David Nelson and the legendary Robert Hunter – a combination of talents that has as much to do with friendship as it does art. Remember, folks – Nelson was part of that Bay Area picking circle with Hunter and a young lad by the name of Garcia all those many moons ago. Roots run deep; and the proof’s in the music, my friend. As with so, so many of his collaborations with Jerry Garcia, Hunter’s lyrics for the New Riders often conjure up familiar feelings of “Don’t I know this? Haven’t I been here before? But how could I have?” Consider “Fivio” (infused with tasty bits of Cage’s pedal steel), which sounds like it might have been penned in the shade of an apple tree 130 years ago. The lovely “Suite At The Mission” is chock-bursting full of big pictures and even bigger characters. Or how about the title song, a total “Cosmic Charlie”-style Crumbwalk that’s loaded with wicked wordplay and rubber-legged-and-droopy-eyed grins. “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too,” indeed. Who’d have thought one would ever use the word “sexy” in a New Riders review? Well, you tell me: crank up the album opener “Prisoner Of Freedom” and let that infectious head-bopping groove (courtesy of Markowski and Penque) settle into your bones. When they let Cage loose after the first chorus, the fuzz-out snarl of his pedal steel is just absolutely nasty – I’m talking make-you-blush filthy here, folks. Jesus … Professor Louie’s accordion is the perfect addition to the happy gumbo of “Message In A Bottle”. And if you want to hear someone play the living dogsnot out of a B-bender Telecaster, check out Nelson’s solo at the 2:55 mark of “Six Of One”. (All you kids out there pay attention and learn yerselves something.)Getting older? Who says? I’ll have whatever they’re having, barkeep. Put it in a bag for me and I’ll take it to 17 Pine Avenue.

Our New CD 17 Pine Avenue will be Released world wide on March 6th and will be available at shows starting March the 2nd at our sold out Boulton Center show on long Island. We will also be having a big 4 show CD release party at The Irdium in NYC on March 9 and 10 with free CD give a ways and other fun stuff. More info on that to follow.. See ya at the shows.
 

Our friend Ken Babbs, famously a Merry Prankster and the best friend and working partner of Ken Kesey has at last finished his first novel and the wait was worth it. Who Shot The Water Buffalo will come out on March 31. Pre order from Tsunami Books, Eugene, Oregon tsunami1@opusnet.com or call: 541-345-8986–

Feb. 14/11
Happy Valentines Day to all…

Jan 9/11

A novel entitled “Who Shot The Water Buffalo” by our old friend Ken Babbs from the Pranksters is now slated to come out mid April. Pre order from Tsunami Books, $22, free shipping, all books signedemail: tsunami1@opusnet.comor call: 541-345-8986

 Check him out here http://www.skypilotclub.com

June 16/10

We played the first of six show in five days, in Colorado last night at the Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs and it was a barn burner 3 set with 4 hours of music and  fantastic crowd that stayed till the last note was played. We hope to get back here soon. Now it’s on to Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins. Come on out it should be interesting…NRPS

March 13/10

Westcott Theater   03/12/10

First set:

Rocky road Blues

Portland Woman

Rockin with Nona

You Angel you

I don’t Know You

Big Six

Henry

No Time (New song, first time live)

Fivio

Down the Middle

Deep Elem blues

NRPS – GERMAN HOUSE * 3/11/10

DEAD FLOWERS – D

WHERE I COME FROM – Bm

LA COWBOY -E

CARL PERKINS – E

LOCHINVAR – G

HIGHER

PRIZNOR OF FREEDOM – E

SUTTERS MILL – D

SUITE AT THE MISSION – D

HENRY

BLUES BARRELL -G

BANK ROBBER

BARRACUDA MOON – Dm >>>

>>>OLIVIA ROSE – C

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE – D

SIX OF ONE – E

* GONE HOME

Jan. 1/10

12/31/09 NRPS -SILO  NYE

SET 1

Iko Iko

BIG SIX

I DON’T KNOW YOU

CARL PERKINS

SUITE AT THE MISSION

GROUPIE

WHERE I COME FROM

PEGGY-O

DEEP ELEM

SET 2

AULD LANG SYNE

SIX OF ONE

NAKED EYE

HIGHER

PRIZNER OF FREEDOM

HENRY

LO & BEHOLD

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

DOWN THE MIDDLE

Encore

BANK ROBBER

GLENDALE TRAIN/SOMEBODY ROBBED IT

Dec. 30/09

SHOWCASE LIVE 12/29/09

SET 1

DEAD FLOWERS

WHERE I COME FROM

LA COWBOY

LOCHINVAR

PRIZNOR OF FREEDOM

SUTTERS MILL

PRETTY LITTLE MISS

OLIVIA ROSA

PANAMA RED

BLUES BARRELL

INSTANT ARMADILLO BLUES

SET 2

PORTLAND WOMEN

BIG SIX

HENRY

RUNNIN’ BACK TO YOU

ROCKIN’ WITH NONA

CASEY JONES

TAKE A LETTER MARIA

Encore

DOWN THE MIDDLE

SIX OF ONE

Dec. 29/09

IRON HORSE 12/28/09

SET 1

RAINBOW

BIG SIX

HENRY

I DON’T KNOW YOU

LONESOME LA COWBOY

GROUPIE

WHERE I COME FROM

DIAMOND JOE

FIVIO

BLUES BARRELL

GARDEN OF EDEN

SET 2

GHOST TRAIN BLUES

CONTRACT

LO & BEHOLD

ALL I EVER WANTED

DIRTY BUSINESS

PANAMA RED

HIGHER

SUITE AT THE MISSION

SIX OF ONE

Encore

GLENDALE TRAIN (SOMEBODY ROBBED IT)

Dec. 28/09

Dec. 28/09

TUPELO MUSIC HALL 12/27/09

SWEET MARIE

WHERE I COME FROM

CONTRACT

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

HENRY

PRIZNER OF FREEDOM

LOCHINVAR

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

WHISKEY

BABE IT AIN’T NO LIE

BANK ROBBER

BLUES BARRELL

ONE TOO MANY STORIES

ROCKIN W/ NONA

BIG SIX

LOUISIANA LADY

Encore HAND JIVE > RIPPLE

Oct. 27/09

BEARSVILLE THEATRE 12/26/09

SET 1

15 DAYS

LAST LONELY EAGLE

LOUISIANA LADY

CONTRACT

WHERE I COME FROM

OLIVIA ROSE

ANY NAKED EYE

I DON’T KNOW YOU

DOWN THE MIDDLE

HENRY

SET 2

HIGHER

DEEP ELEM

WHATCHA GONNA DO

CARL PERKINS

BARRACUDA MOON

PANAMA RED

SIX OF ONE

Encore

SUITE AT THE MISSION

RUN RUN RUDOLPH

RAINY DAY WOMEN

Oct. 28/09

NRPS Nation we need your prayers and good vibes for Johnny Markowski’s mom who goes into surgery tomorrow. Think positive thoughts, and she’ll be home smiling before we know it…..

Sept. 12/09

Our three day hit and run tour is coming up quick. We’ll be heading back to three of our favorite venues, Mexicali Live on Sept. 18, FTC on Sept. 19 and Worm Town on Sept. 20. Then October is shaping up with a weekend hit early in the month and a two week tour down south at the end of the month. Should be fun. In the mean time Ronnie and Johnny along with Buddy have been out giging with their bands, David will be playing a show out West on Sept. 13 with the DNB and Michael will be at The Bearsville Theater with his band The Memphis Pilgrims on Sept. 24. No rest for the weary around here. Oh yeah by the way we’re thinking about heading back into the studio to start recording the follow up to Where I Come From. We have a bunch of new songs many of which are written by Robert Hunter and David Nelson, along with some new ones by the rest of the by Ronnie Johnny and Michael. So it should be a busy Fall and Winter. We’ll keep you posted….NRPS

Aug 14/09

Free-jazz drummer and John Coltrane sideman Rashied Ali has died in New York. He was 76. The ethereal band is getting bigger by the day. This has been a tough month……NRPS

Aug 14/09

Free-jazz drummer and John Coltrane sideman Rashied Ali has died in New York. He was 76. The ethereal band is getting bigger by the day. This has been a tough month……NRPS

Aug 12/09

The August tour has been going great, we’ve played a bunch of new and old venues and last night we played The Birchmere in Alexandria Virginia for the first time. Our old friend Commander Cody opened the show with his band. The show was packed and just a few tickets away from a sell out so I’m pretty sure we’ll be back. We’ve also been breaking  some new tunes by Robert Hunter and David Nelson, Six of One, Message In A Bottle, Prisoner Of Freedom, and Suite At The Mission, we have bunch more we’re going to try to play along with new songs by the rest of the guys. With that said we’re already talking about going back into the studio and start recording the follow up to Where I Came From. We’ll keep you posted…… August has been a tough month for the music community we lost Billy Lee Riley, Billy wrote some great songs back in the fifties as part on the Sun Records gang like Flying Saucers Rock and Roll and Red Hot. He and his band The Little Green Men also backed up many of the other artists on Sun Records including Jerry lee Lewis.  Willy Deville also passed he had a band out of New York in the seventies and eighties called Mink Deville and had hits like Cadillac Walk and Spanish Stroll, he also had long solo career. Then came Mike Seeger you’ll remember him from The New Lost City Ramblers and now Les Paul, we could never say enough about his impact on music as we know it today. All will be missed and as with John Dawson we extend our deepest condolences to their families and all their  many fans……NRPS

July 21/09

It is with great sadness that we have to say farewell to our brother John “Marmaduke” Dawson, who is now at peace. He was a great poet and musician and he will be missed. We are honored to play his songs, songs that are as great today as the day he wrote them.  We’re glad that he was able to join us two years ago at Horning Hideout for the String Summit to see the love the crowd still had for him. It was one of the best nights this version of the band has had. We want you all to know that he was thrilled that so many fans, new and old, were coming out to hear the songs he wrote so many years before. He’s gone but his music will live on. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and all his many fans out there. Somewhere there’s going to be one hell of a jam tonight…the ethereal band just got a whole lot better…..NRPS

Photo by Robert Altman

John “Marmaduke” Dawson

June 16, 1945-July 21, 2009

June 30/09

Just wanted to give everybody the heads up on some cool interviews on jambands.com the latest with our very own David Nelson. follow this link and check it out http://www.jambands.com/Features/content_2009_06_28.08.phtml. Also a few weeks ago we were live on WFUV in NYC at BB Kings and we were interviewed by Dennis Elsas and recently we stumbled on an interview he did with Garcia back in 1984 and we just wanted to share it with those of you that haven’t seen so follow the link and enjoyhttp://denniselsas.com/archives.htm#jerry. We also want everybody to know that we were just add to the Sunday show at Nelson Ledges. Our Good friend Jeff Mattson fell ill and had to back out of the festival, so we’re stepping in and Donna Jean will be singing with us Saturday and Sunday. We’re told Jeff will make a full recovery and will back out rockin’ very soon, so send him some love and let’s get him back on stage as soon as possibly……NRPS

June 16/09

We here at NRPS central would like wish John “Marmaduke” Dawson a very happy birthday. NRPS Nation how about it, send your love his way. Without him we wouldn’t be out here today making the music that we’ve made for the last four years. And no we didn’t forget David’s birthday on the 12th, he just asked us not to make a big deal out of it. That said, happy birthday David….. NRPS

May 30/09

We’re getting ready to head down the road for our CD Release Tour 09, check the tour page for all the details. The new CD Where I Come From will be in stores on June 2nd and we’ll have them for sale on the tour. We’ll also be having a few CD release party’s with a meet and greet, free give aways and a chance to win a guitar signed by the band. The first party is at BB Kings from 5:00 to 6:00 on the 4th before the show, then we’ll be doing it allover again at The Stone Pony on the the 6th from 63:0 to 7:30. It’s gonna be a fun time. Hope to see ya at the shows…..NRPS

May 26/09

NRPS Nation don’t forget the pre-CD release party on June 1st at noon for lunch and a free live performance on WFUV at Lucille’s inside BB Kings in NYC with a meet and greet afterwards and free give aways. You’ll need an invitation. Only 50 invites available so email Captain Toast at: toast@thenewriders.com and include: Live @ Lucille’s in the Subject Line – good luck. If you can’t make it to the club, tune in at WFUV 90.7 or join the live internet stream at: http://www.wfuv.org/audio/stream.html we go live at 1:00. Then on Tuesday the 2nd we’ll be live on Sirus XM, again around noon. Also head over to the tour dates page for info on the CD release party’s at BB Kings, The Main Pub and The Stone Pony. See ya at the shows…. NRPS

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