New Riders of the Purple Sage可以算是Grateful Dead的兄弟乐队了，70年代Jerry Garcia在加州组建了这支带点迷幻气息却有乡村根源的乐队，我们熟悉的名字还有吉他手John Dawson和David Nelson，乐队的名字可能来源于Zane Grey的小说Riders of the Purple Sage，乐队70年代的单曲Panama Red非常有名，虽然Jerry Garcia已经不在人世，但是这支乐队到现在仍然带领着新的成员在进行巡演。
The roots of the New Riders can be traced back to the early 60s folk/bohemian/beatnik scene in San Francisco, where future Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, then considered to be one of the finest banjo players of the folk revival, often played gigs with like-minded guitarist David Nelson. The young John "Marmaduke" Dawson, from a well-to-do family centered in Millbrook, New York, also played some concerts with Garcia, Nelson, and their compatriots while visiting relatives on summer vacation. Enamored with the sounds of Bakersfield-style country music, Dawson would turn his older friends onto the work of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens while providing a vital link between the East Coast, Timothy Leary-dominated psychedelic scene and the West.
Dawson went on to college, Nelson briefly became a Scientologist and moved on to Los Angeles with future Grateful Dead/New Riders lyricist Robert Hunter & tape archivist Willy Legate, and Garcia formed the Grateful Dead with an acquaintance, blues singer Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
By the time Nelson returned to the Bay Area after leaving the Church of Scientology in 1966, the Merry Pranksters-led Acid Tests were in full swing, with the Dead serving as house band. Though the group briefly considered replacing Bob Weir with the more experienced Nelson, this never materialized. Throughout 1967 and 1968, Nelson worked as a journeyman musician in the San Francisco area, playing anything from electric psychedelic rock (he was briefly lead guitarist of Big Brother and the Holding Company after Janis Joplin and Sam Andrews departed) to contemporary bluegrass with groups such as the Mescaline Rompers.
After flunking out of a junior college in the Los Angeles area, Dawson returned to the Bay Area in 1968, where he decided to find his fortunes as a solo folksinger. Attending some of the Acid Tests and visiting the Dead at their commune in 1967, Dawson decided that it was his life's mission to combine the psychedelia of the San Francisco rock scene with his beloved electric country music. An early 1969 mescaline experience confirmed this, and the erstwhile perpetual student-cum-folkie began to compose songs on a regular basis. Some, such as "Glendale Train", were traditional country pastiches, while a number of others ("Last Lonely Eagle" and "Dirty Business") found him working in the milieu of a countrified Dead. Others, including the shuffle "Henry", were a combination of the two--traditional music combined with then-contemporary lyrics (the exploits of a marijuana smuggler, drug-related themes being a common motif in the New Riders' repertoire).
Dawson's foresight was precipitous, as 1969 marked the emergence of country rock via the Dillard & Clark Band, the Clarence White-era Byrds, The Band, Gram Parsons' Flying Burrito Brothers, and Bob Dylan. Around this time, Garcia was similarly inspired to take up the pedal steel guitar, and Dawson & Garcia began playing coffeehouse concerts together while the Grateful Dead was off the road. The Dawson and Garcia repertoire included Bakersfield country standards, traditional bluegrass, Dawson originals, a few Dylan covers ("Lay Lady Lay", "You Ain't Going Nowhere", "Mighty Quinn"), and Joni Mitchell's signature song "Big Yellow Taxi". By the summer of 1969 it was decided that a full band would be formed to satisfy Garcia's desires in this creative outlet. David Nelson was immediately recruited from Big Brother to play electric lead guitar.
In addition to Nelson, Dawson (on acoustic rhythm guitar), and Garcia (continuing to play pedal steel), the original line-up of the band that came to be known as the New Riders of the Purple Sage (a nod to the Zane Gray classic and an obscure western swing combo from the 40s) consisted of Robert Hunter on electric bass and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. Hunter was soon replaced by Dead soundman and old crony Bob Matthews, who in turn did not last very long. Finally, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead was named bassist. Not only was this line-up economical - for only two extra plane tickets, the cash-strapped Dead had an opening act — but Dawson's songs, combined with Garcia's self-taught pedal steel style and the eccentric rhythm section of Lesh and Hart (neither had much experience in country or folk music) gave the New Riders a singularly unique sound that stood out from the pack of emerging country-rock bands.
After a few warmup gigs throughout the Bay Area in 1969, the New Riders (for all intents and purposes Dawson and Nelson) began to tour with the Grateful Dead in May 1970 as their opening act. This relationship continued on a regular basis until December 1971. Throughout much of 1970, the Dead would open with an acoustic set that often included Dawson and Nelson before segueing into the New Riders and electric Dead.
By the time the New Riders recorded their first album in late 1970, change was in the air. Dave Torbert, a young Bay Area musician, replaced Lesh. After Mickey Hart went on sabbatical from music in early 1971, Spencer Dryden (from Jefferson Airplane) began a ten year relationship with the group as their drummer, and eventually manager. The first album, eponymously titled, was released on Columbia Records in late 1971 and was a moderate success. Featuring all Dawson songs, the record was driven by Garcia's inventive pedal-steel playing.
With the New Riders desiring to become more of a self-sufficient group and Garcia needing to focus on his other responsibilities, the musician parted ways with the group in November 1971. Buddy Cage, a seasoned pedal steel player who had contributed to the latter-day recordings by Ian and Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird, replaced Garcia. The Dawson/Nelson/Cage/Torbert/Dryden line-up is generally considered to be the finest of the group. Thanks to rampant touring and the coattails of the Grateful Dead, with whom they still gigged periodically (both bands shared the same management in this epoch), the New Riders managed to nearly eclipse the parent band in popularity. This was not necessarily a surprise, considering that their sound was far more accessible than was the Dead's.
The band peaked in popularity in 1973 with the sleeper hit The Adventures of Panama Red and the accompanying single, "Panama Red", a FM radio staple. ... Panama Red was, as could be inferred by the title (a reference to a popular marijuana variety), a concept album about the escapades of a dope smuggler. The Adventures of Panama Red was the group's lone gold album, and although much of the humor is sophomoric in retrospect, it is considered by most critics to be one of the better country-rock opuses to have emerged from the 1970s; the juxtaposition of a rootsy ambiance with irreverent lyrical themes clearly influenced the alternative country movement of today.
Musically typecast as the band that sang "Panama Red", the New Riders never again managed to achieve such a level of success. Many of the songs on their subsequent albums were trite novelty songs that, though mildly entertaining, did not meet the high caliber of the first albums. After the inevitable departures (Torbert was replaced by ex-Byrd Skip Battin and passed on in the 1980s; Dryden left the drummer's chair to manage the group in 1978; Nelson left in 1982), Dawson continued fronting a line-up of the group (periodically with Nelson) until 1998, when he moved to Mexico and became an English teacher. In 2002, a frail Dawson (suffering from emphysema) and Nelson accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award for their musical endeavors from High Times magazine.
Shortly after the death of Spencer Dryden, a reconstituted line-up of the New Riders began touring in late 2005. It features David Nelson and Buddy Cage alongside latter-day Hot Tuna sideman Michael Falzarano and musicians John Markowski and Ron Penque. John Dawson, reportedly in ailing health, has given his endorsement to the group. Musically, the new band's loose, rambling, jamming style bears a close resemblance to the sound of Nelson's own group, the David Nelson Band.
01. Gypsy Cowboy (Dave Torbert) – 4:17
02. Whiskey (John Dawson) – 3:33
03. Groupie (Dave Torbert) – 2:40
04. Sutter's Mill (John Dawson) – 1:52
05. Death and Destruction (John Dawson) – 8:39
06. Linda (John Dawson) – 3:04
07. On My Way Back Home (Dave Torbert) – 3:29
08. Superman (John Dawson) – 3:09
09. She's No Angel (Wanda Ballman) – 2:51
10. Long Black Veil (Danny Dill/Marijohn Wilkin) – 3:56
11. Sailin' (John Dawson) – 2:49