NEPA Scene Staff

Grateful Dead spin-off New Riders of the Purple Sage performs at Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre July 1

Grateful Dead spin-off New Riders of the Purple Sage performs at Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre July 1
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From a press release:

The F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre has added some new shows to its ongoing “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series, including the New Riders of the Purple Sage on Friday, July 1 at 8 p.m.

Tickets, which are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show, plus fees, go on sale this Friday, April 22 at 10 a.m. and will be available at the Kirby Center box office (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre), online at, and by phone at 570-826-1100. A special Kirby Member pre-sale will begin this Wednesday, April 20 at 10 a.m. Members buy first, so join today at 570-823-4599, ext. 225.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis, released its eponymous first album in September 1971 to widespread acclaim. In the next 11 years, the band toured and released over 12 albums, selling over four million records. NRPS began as a part-time spin-off from the Grateful Dead when Jerry Garcia (pedal steel guitar), Phil Lesh (bass), and Mickey Hart (drums) teamed up with John Dawson (guitar, vocals) and David Nelson (guitar). Although early live appearances were viewed as an informal warm-up to the main attraction, the group quickly established an independent identity through the strength of its original songs.

By 1970, Dave Torbert had replaced Lesh, and Spencer Dryden, formerly of Jefferson Airplane, had joined as the group’s permanent drummer. Garcia remained in both the Dead and the New Riders until he found himself overcommitted, at which time Buddy Cage replaced him and the classic NRPS lineup was born.

Original NRPS bass player Dave Torbert and drummer Spencer Dryden have passed away, and co-founder John Dawson Passed away in 2009 due to ongoing health problems. His considerable talents will be missed, but his songs and musical legacy will live on. Before he passed, he had given his blessing and was excited to know his music is being heard live again by a whole new generation of fans.

The band then teamed up with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and released its first CD in 20 years to rave reviews, “Where I Come From” (Woodstock Records).

The long-awaited return of the New Riders of the Purple Sage has fans in a psychedelic/country head spin. Guitarist David Nelson and pedal steel wizard Buddy Cage will represent the NRPS catalog along with Michael Falzarano (guitar, mandolin and vocals), Johnny Markowski (drums and vocals), and Ron Penque (bass and vocals). You may recognize Falzarano from Hot Tuna, Markowski from Stir Fried, and Penque from Melvin Seals and JGB. The new lineup vows to keep the NRPS spirit and tunes alive by taking them to fans everywhere.