John Dawson - guitar, vocals; David Nelson - lead guitar, vocals; Buddy Cage - pedal steel guitar; Skip Battin - bass, vocals; Spencer Dryden - drums; Vassar Clements - guest fiddle on "Glendale Train"
The New Riders Of The Purple Sage were still red hot from the days of the Panama Red album when this show was recorded. One of several nights captured to be aired on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, it featured the revised line-up that replaced long time bassist Dave Torbert with Skip Battin, who had previously played in the Byrds and would eventually play with the Flying Burrito Brothers.
This short, but lively, set features some of the band's best known originals and a few of the covers they had come to be known for. "Panama Red," the band's pro-pot anthem (and biggest radio hit), kicks off the show, much to the delight of the audience (who obviously had no problem cheering for the exploits of a bandito high on weed). The yodel-heavy "Little Old Lady" is next, and leads the band into high musicality with a medley of "Austin, Texas" and "Instant Armadillo Blues."
"Henry," one of the favorites from the Jerry Garcia days, is next, followed by the set closer, "Glendale Train," which features Vassar Clements as a guest fiddler.
The New Riders Of The Purple Sage began as an off-shoot of the Grateful Dead extended family, and started as an after-hours jam band started by singer-songwriters David Nelson and John Dawson that allowed Dead founder Jerry Garcia to explore his deep country-rock leanings and his desire to play pedal steel. The band initially featured a blend of established and little-known players based in the Bay Area, including three Dead members (Garcia, drummer Mickey Hart, and bassist Phil Lesh). Before the band recorded in 1970, Lesh and Hart were gone, because of too many obligations to the Grateful Dead.
That left John Dawson on vocals and guitar, David Nelson on lead guitar and vocals, and Dave Torbert on bass and vocals to make up the core of the New Riders. Buddy Cage, a Canadian pedal steel player, would eventually replaced Jerry Garcia. Although their biggest commercial success was in the mid 1970s, the New Riders Of The Purple Sage have continued with a revolving door line-up, making most of its appearances at Dead-inspired jam band festivals.