Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

New Riders of The Purple Sage: Americana Lost and Found

"Well done" nod to No Depression's resident historian! Never need to fact check your columns.  I might be an exception but I'd take the New Riders over the Dead if push came to shove.

Excellent article. I was only casually familiar with them. Everyone knows Panama Red but thats scratching the surface. Im not a deadhead but respect the talent and legacy of them. I knew Jerry started with bluegrass and could play competent banjo, quite a feat, but had no idea he played PEDAL STEEL! Whoaaa.. thats not an easy instrument you just pick up, it takes time. Curious to know how Jerry got into steel. Did he ever play it onstage with the Dead? Anyhow, your article has intrigued me and I have some New Riders in my near future listening.

Thanks Ed for another interesting history lesson about a San Francisco Bay Area band so important to me when I was coming of age in the late 60s early 70s. 

I liked New Riders a lot, especially their debut album, even if they didn't--for me--quite reach the level of excellence that the Dead did with "Working Man's Dead" and "American Beauty." I also must admit I like Old and in the Way's version of "Panama Red" just as much and the New Riders' version.

Thank you for this and for including the clips. Excellent, almost lost this music until you brought it to light again. NRPS, a beauty.


NRPS was a "big brother" band for me. My big brothers went off to college in Arizona and would come home with all kinds of new music. This eventually led me down the rabbitt hole of country-rock*, where I still reside. 

*I don't care for the made-up word "Americana." I know it's a way to market, brand and sell this genre, and if it helps some musicians make a living, fine. But it grates. 

Americana is not a made up word but it has been, as you noted, co-opted to market, brand, and sell this genre. 

I've resisted using 'Americana' for so long but have finally surrendered. Originally co-opted to simly designate a radio format, the AMA has been highly successful in transitioning it to a recognized genre. I guess my only real problem is how it's determined that music should be classified as such. I think Louis Armstrong, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Jackie Wilson are Americana. I don't think Richard Thompson and Van Morrison are. But if we are really interested in being inclusive, I think Afro-Britannica-Americana would be a more accurate classification of this music we like so much. 

Stick to American music. Drop the superfluous "a".  

Thanks to Dave Alvin:

"We got the Louisiana boogie and the delta blues
We got country, swing and rockabilly, too
We got jazz, country-western and Chicago blues
It's the greatest music that you ever knew
It's American music, it's American music, it's American music 
It's the greatest sound right from the U.S.A."

Yes, that would be more accurate -- but too many hyphens!

Another term I like, although much broader than Americana, would be "Roots."

Great article, BTW and nice discussion!

Garcia was self-taught on pedal steel, and began playing it in 1969. His first recording was on the CSNY song 'Teach Your Children'. From an interview he gave, it was actually done in little snippets and spliced together to create a cohesive contribution. He also says he made a deal to add in his part in exchange for a group harmony lesson for the Dead, as they were just entering the studio for Workingman's Dead and American Beauty

Really enjoyed this Ed, I didn't know a lot about Dawson...I'm with Mr. Mutt...I always liked their records better than the Dead's, but I never really got the Dead to the extent that most people did so that's just on me...the Americana argument again...I'd agree we are stuck with the term at this point, and arguing about it too much probably isn't worth the trouble...all have made salient points...

Shame about Buddy and multiple myeloma, plus complications...that's a tough one...I have a friend who's had that for almost 10 years...they told him he had maybe 2 years to live at the is one of those that they keep making medical advances on, so he's still here, and doing okay right now...the treatments are very expensive (even with insurance)...bone marrow transplants and the like...wouldn't want anyone to have that situation.