Week of December 6, 1999
Best known for his work with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, David Nelson is one of Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia's oldest musical buds. They played folk music and bluegrass together in the early '60s, and in this interview Nelson also reveals that he was a founding member of the jug band that became the Grateful Dead, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.
In the interview Nelson talks about the founding of the David Nelson Band. "I met [guitarist/pedal steel Barry Sless, keyboardist Mookie Siegel, and bassist Bill Laymon] in another group that we were in in the early '90s, a tribute to the Grateful Dead called the Dead Ringers.... You can only do that for so long, and then we decided to do my material. Why didn't I think of that?" I thought the Nelson Band was just about the best thing going, but they had a hard time making ends meet on the touring circuit.
About three years ago, the New Riders of the Purple Sage re-formed, with David Nelson and Buddy Cage (who replaced Jerry Garcia on pedal steel in 1971) joined by guitarist Michael Falzarano (famed for his work with Hot Tuna), and drummer Johnny Markowski and bassist Ronnie Penque from Stir Fried. That band has had much better fortunes on the club and festival circuits!
Barry Sless currently divides his time between Moonalice and Phil Lesh and Friends, and Mookie Siegel is a full-time member of Donna Jean and the Tricksters. Bill Laymon was seriously ill for a couple of years; I saw him in December 2008 when we both played a benefit concert in Santa Rosa CA, and he's looking and sounding great now!
The David Nelson Band reconvenes when schedules permit, and they continue to make terrific music together.
Notes on a couple of the songs in this show:
"Edge of the Wire" is a David Nelson composition. This live performance is from one of a handful of Phil Lesh and Friends shows that included Nelson and his DNB bandmates Barry Sless and Mookie Siegel.
David Nelson Band, Visions Under the Moon
David Nelson Band, Keeper of the Key
New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Adventures of Panama Red
New Riders of the Purple Sage, Powerglide
DIM LIGHTS, THICK SMOKE (And Loud, Loud Music)
New Riders of the Purple Sage, Live on Stage
I WILL NEVER MAKE YOU BLUE
Phil Lesh and Friends 7/3/99 Warfield Theater, SF
EDGE OF THE WIRE
David Nelson Band 7/6/99 Powerhouse, Sebastopol CA
RAG MAMA RAG
Every Wednesday, we post a program from the Grateful Dead Hour archives for your enjoyment and enlightenment. You can browse or search the playlists at gdhour.com or on the GD Hour Search page, and let me know what program(s) you'd like to hear by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for listening!
- David Gans