John Dawson - guitar, vocals; David Nelson - lead guitar, vocals; Buddy Cage - pedal steel guitar; Stephen Love - bass, vocals; Patrick Shanahan - drums
The core line-up of John Dawson, David Nelson, and Buddy Cage remained from the early days, but the rhythm section of Dave Tolbert on bass and Spencer Dryden on drums was gone by the time this New Riders of the Purple Sage show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour in 1977. They were replaced with Stephen Love and Patrick Shanahan, respectively. Dryden, the original drummer in the Jefferson Starship and a former member of Moby Grape, departed to become the New Riders' manager.
The band had already left their longtime home of Columbia Records for MCA, a label that never quite understood the band despite issuing several of their albums. The band was touring with the Dead at the time and supporting their own Marin County Line album, from which much of this material came from.
Lesser known songs such as "Fifteen Days Under The Hood" and "You Never Can Tell" are featured alongside many of the band's best loved songs, such as "Homegrown," "Red Hot Women And Ice Cold Beer," "Henry" and "Glendale Train." The band's covers selection on any given night is part of the fun of seeing the New Riders of The Purple Sage. At this show, they did a rousing version of "T For Texas," the Stones' "Dead Flowers," and the country classic "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother." The band, however, got their greatest audience response when they did the pro-pot anthem, "Panama Red."
The New Riders Of The Purple Sage began as an offshoot of the Grateful Dead extended family. They began 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 replace Jerry Garcia. Although their biggest commercial success was in the mid 1970s, the New Riders have continued with a revolving door line-up, making many appearances at Dead-inspired festivals.