Still Riding

New Riders of the Purple Sage, featuring guitarist David Nelson and pedal-steel player Buddy Cage, brings its psychedelic, country rock to Applegate Lodge.

The band, with bassist Ronnie Penque, drummer Johnny Markowski and guitarist Michael Falzarano, has been on a roll since its 2005 renaissance. Its second studio album, "17 Pine Avenue," was released this year. As on its 2009 "Where I Come From," most of the songs are written by Nelson, with lyrics by Robert Hunter, who wrote many Grateful Dead songs.

The show is set for 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9. The doors open at 8 p.m. The lodge is at 15100 Highway 238, Applegate.

The early nucleus of New Riders of the Purple Sage formed in the late '60s when songwriter and guitarist John Dawson and Jerry Garcia, the Dead's bandleader, began playing music together in coffeehouses and small clubs around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Shortly after, Nelson, along with the Dead's drummer Mickey Hart and bassist Phil Lesh, joined the duo to form New Riders. The group became part of the Dead's tour dates, opening for the main attraction, yet quickly established an independent identity on the strength of Dawson's songwriting.

By 1970, Dave Torbert had replaced Lesh, and Spencer Dryden replaced Hart. In '71, Cage replaced Garcia.

New Riders signed with Columbia Records in '71, and its eponymous first album was released in September that year.

In '73, the band recorded "The Adventures of Panama Red," with a title track by Peter Rowan, at the Record Plant in Sausalito, Calif. It was the first gold record for the band, and the title track became a staple of FM radio.

Many changes would be made to New Riders' lineup from this point on. The group fulfilled its commitment to Columbia Records and signed with MCA Records in '76.

The year 2006 found New Riders of the Purple Sage back on the road with a revived and inspired lineup, bringing Dawson's songs back to fans nationwide.

Who are the old Riders of the Purple Sage?

The original Riders of the Purple Sage — also the title of a Zane Grey novel — was formed in 1936 by guitarist Buck Page. The band performed on a weekday show on radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh and, later, on radio station WOR and nightclubs in New York City.

About that same time, there was another Riders of the Purple Sage, formed by guitarist Jack Dalton and languishing near Los Angeles. Coast-to-coast radio was nonexistent, and it's unlikely the bandleaders knew of each other.

During World War II, while members of Page's band served in the military, a singer named Foy Willing organized yet another Riders of the Purple Sage. Willing's group performed in several movies and had a string of hit recordings. It disbanded in '52.

In the early '60s, Page reorganized his Riders of the Purple Sage in California. His band released three CDs and toured the cowboy-festival circuit until 2003.

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