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New Riders of the Purple Sage Any old hippies who can even vaguely remember the words to Peter Rowan’s “Panama Red” will likely be on Dickson Street Friday night to hear the San Francisco wonders who made Rowan’s song an anthem. The New Riders of the Purple Sage will storm into Northwest Arkansas for a show at George’s, their only Arkansas appearance.

The family tree of many San Francisco bands of the 1970’s is heavily inbred with players from the New Riders, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen and The Byrds revolving through the different projects.

The New Riders broke new ground with their twangy psychedelic rock, earning praise that included being called the greatest cosmic, psychedelic-country folk rock and roll band in the universe and the precursor to what is known today as alt country.

Clive Davis signed the New Riders to a multi-album deal on Columbia Records in 1971. Their first self-titled album was released later that year. For the next 11 years the band released 12 albums and sold more than four million records.

The band lifted off in 1969 as a project of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, songwriter John Dawson, David Nelson and Mickey Hart. Joining the four for the first album was bassist Dave Torbert and drummer Spencer Dryden who left the Jefferson Airplane for the New Riders and replaced Hart as a regular member of the band. On the band’s second release, “Powerglide” peddle steel player Buddy Cage replaced Garcia who left the group to concentrate on the Grateful Dead.

The Dead and the New Riders toured together in the ‘70s and were part of the Trans-Canadian Festival Express. (If you haven’t seen the video chronicling this rolling tour, it’s a must see!) The New Riders were regaled for their A-plus harmonies, which will be an integral part of the revived band, which got together and began touring a little over a year ago.

Joining Cage and Nelson in the new group are: Michael Falzarano (Hot Tuna) on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Johnny Markowski (Stir Fried, JGB) on drums and vocals; and Ronnie Penque (Stir Fried, JGB, Ripple) on bass and vocals. Missing from the original group are Dryden and Torbert went the route of many ‘70s rock stars and are now playing in rock heaven and Dawson who is in poor health. Tickets available at www.georgesmajesticlounge.com. These guys are legendary. Don’t miss them.
Mendy Knott at OPWC
The Ozark Poets and Writers Collective starts 2007 with accomplished performance poet Mendy Knott as the featured guest at 7 p.m. Tuesday at George’s Majestic Lounge.
Knott hails from North Carolina where she was a creativity coach and hosted a women’s open mic. She moved to Fayetteville to reconnect with family. Her poems provoke understanding and empathy and many of them are coming-of-age stories.
Knott grew up as the daughter of a minister, who moved his family around the south as he took different assignments. She had a career in the Air Force followed by a career as a police officer. It was then that she had a serendipitous moment, thinking that life was too short to live with negativity, so she ran off to the hills of North Carolina to reinvent herself as a poet.
Currently, Knott hosts Herwords Outloud or HoWL, an open mic for women, at 6:30 p.m. the third Sunday of each month at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. Knott had previously founded similar groups in Ashville, N.C. and Spruce Pine, N.C.
Knott has a blog called “A Creative Life” where she writes about creativity, including challenges, exercises and inspirations. Creativity is one of her main passions and she loves to employ herself as a creativity coach.
Knott has been in town for a little more than a year and has made her presence known in that short time. She has become involved with the OMNI Center and is promoting peace through her poetry performances.
“When war was declared on Iraq in March 2003, I made a personal commitment to write at least one peace poem every month as long as the war should last.” Knott begins her CD called “Peacework: Poems in Wartime.”
There will be open mic performances before and after Knott’s reading. All poetry is welcome, from traditional, to slam to musical performances. Each open mic performer gets up to four minutes to share original work or a “cover.”
Admission is free, though a hat is passed to help provide a small stipend for the featured reader.  The OPWC is a friendly forum for local wordsmiths of all types, from beginners to veterans.     Cat Donnelly

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