New Riders of the Purple Sage return to Fairfield Theatre Co.

Fairfield Theatre Company welcomes back the iconic ’70s psychedelic, country-rock band, the New Riders of the Purple Sage to StageOne on Friday, May 2, at 7:30, doors open at 7, 70 Sanford Street.

Originally featuring most of the members of the Grateful Dead in the early ’70s, the indelible and forever inspirational New Riders of the Purple Sage still brings honor to psychedelic country/rock; the genre they helped create. Their initial sound was a kind of country-acid rock, somewhat twangier than the Dead’s usual work and without the Dead’s forays into experimental jams. Later they started playing with more of a country-rock sound. Today it’s a wonderful mix of rock ‘n roll, country influences, jammy freedom, and tight, immortal, rootsy storytelling.

David Nelson, an important figure in the musical vanguard of the influential Haight-Ashbury music scene, helped spawn the Grateful Dead. His ties to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter extend beyond that with The Wildwood Boys, a bluegrass band they formed together in 1962 in Palo Alto, CA.

After the Dead got together, Nelson played guitar on three pivotal albums, Aoxomoxoa, Workingman’s Dead, and American Beauty. Around the same time, Garcia bought a pedal steel guitar, which he enjoyed playing with John Dawson, a friend from the Palo Alto days. They formed the New Riders of the Purple Sage with Nelson, and the Dead’s Mickey Hart, and Phil Lesh. After an epic run, with many comings and goings with key members slowing down the band’s progress, they disbanded in 1982.

New Riders reformed in 2005 by guitarist and singer Nelson, and featured pedal steel player Buddy Cage, guitarist and latter-day Hot Tuna sideman Michael Falzarano, bassist Ronnie Penque, and drummer Johnny Markowski.

Musically, the band’s tight, rambling, jamming style is in itself a tribute to the late John Dawson, a founding member of the band noted on their website. “His songs inspired us in so many ways. His energy, passion and commitment to the New Riders brought us all so much joy over the years. We can all be thankful that his music and legacy will live on forever.”

Tickets: $37 Adv. $42 Door Members Discount $3. Buy tickets: Box Office: 203.259.1036 or reserve online:

New Riders of the Purple Sage return to Fairfield Theatre Co.

New Riders of the Purple Sage

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