John Dawson - guitar, vocal; David Nelson - guitar, vocal; Dave Torbert - bass, vocals; Jerry Garcia - pedal steel guitar; Spencer Dryden - drums
Just a month after closing down the Fillmores, Bill Graham presented this two night stand at the Berkeley Community Theater with the Grateful Dead headlining. Presented here is the fine opening set by the original New Riders of the Purple Sage lineup, featuring Jerry Garcia on pedal steel.
The set features a nice selection of tracks from their debut album, including "Portland Woman," "Henry," and "Louisiana Lady," that fit right in with the sound of the Dead's American Beauty LP. NRPS has a more overtly cowboy country flavor than the Dead, but the two groups' instrumental approach and arrangements have much in common - not surprising, as the members of both bands had been working and playing together for some time.
"Sailin'" is heard here, long before they recorded it for their second LP, Gypsy Cowboy; and "Truck Drivin' Man" was yet to be released at this point, as well.
As on the preceding night, several interesting cover songs are performed. Again, we have the straightforward country that can be heard in "Last Chance To Know," in addition to country flavored rock tunes such as "Six Days On The Road." On this second night, they close the set with the Jagger/Richards classic, "Honky Tonk Woman." Unfortunately, the tape runs out in progress, with the last few minutes missing. Although shorter in length than the first night's set, this is just as enjoyable and only three songs are repeated.
The show took place toward the end of Garcia's tenure with NRPS, when his pedal steel playing was at its most fluid and developed. For that reason alone, the recording will be of interest to Garcia fans, but he is really just added flavor on an already great recipe for good time music. Here at home in the Bay Area, the NRPS are at the top of their game.