Outlaw rockers The New Riders of the Purple Sage may be, in their own words, lonesome L.A cowboys, hanging out and hanging on. But they’ve been hard at work on some new songs. And on November 21 and 22, the five-piece reincarnation of the band founded by Grateful Dead guru Jerry Garcia will play two and a half hours of bluegrass-infused California country rock at the Capitol.
“This was and always has been an outlaw band,” said Captain Toast, who has been the Riders’ manager for the last ten years, since the band re-assembled with founding members David Nelson and Buddy Cage and newcomers Michael Falzarano, Johnny Markowski and Ronnie Penque.
The group, which first emerged from the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene in 1969, may be getting on in years, but they haven’t given up their hippy-rebel personas.
“We’re pretty tickled to be playing with David and Buddy, going strong in their 60s and 70s. These guys are old hippies and musicians that were drawn together by Michael, a long-haired freak like us. Some of us may prefer coffee over a joint these days, but songs like Lonesome L.A. Cowboy, Henry and Panama Red still cause thousands and millions of joints to be smoked, and that’s something we’re pretty proud of,” said Toast.
He said the concert, which will feature two 75-minute sets with a half hour intermission, will feature “New Riders old, new, borrowed and blue.”
“You’re going to see it all. The way we like to write the set list, I feel like it’s a fair representation of where we’re at now: the greatest cosmic rock and roll band in the universe. We’ve got a country side, some folk roots. It’s a very jammy, electric band and that’s why we’ve been pushing ten years with this collaboration,” he said.
“We’re going to play a fair bit of original material, but we’ll still do Dead Flowers by the Stones, we’ll cover some Dylan material, stuff that’s important. Garcia’s covered,” he said.
The Riders have stayed together through a number of trials, including health scares. The group has nearly twenty former members, including Garcia, some of whom have now passed on.
“Buddy likes to say ‘once a New Rider, always a New Rider’,” said Toast.
Cage recently survived a bout with blood cancer, and Toast is thrilled that he’s back on the road with the Riders.
“He’s going strong. He got a stem call transplant and he kicked its ass. I see many more years of playing music with my friend.”
The group released their latest album 17 Pine Avenue two years ago. They’re already back in the studio working on new projects, slated for release in 2015.
Paul Hinrichs of On the Road Management said he’s thrilled the Riders are coming to town, and thinks their generation-hopping appeal is unique.
“Amazing that a band from 40-ish years ago can still convert new minds. I’m really looking forward to this one,” he said.
For more information visit thenewriders.com.
Tickets for the show are $39.50 and are available at the Capitol box office or online at capitoltheatre.bc.ca. Tickets are also available at Eclectic Circus (460 Ward Street). For each ticket sold $1.50 will be donated to the REX Foundation.
There will also be a silent auction, all proceeds of which will go to the Rex Foundation.