This December, Grateful Web had the opportunity to catch up with guitarist, singer and songwriter Michael Falzarano. Michael is a tenured veteran of legendary bands New Riders of the Purple Sage and Hot Tuna, a regular contributor at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch, and bandleader of his own long-standing Memphis Pilgrims and Dead Tribute group, The Englishtown Project.
I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving. I like being with family, the time off from work and of course all the decadent trimmings, but sadly it now signifies personal tragedy. Even the weeks heading towards Turkey Day causes debilitating anxiety. (Try not to die on a major holiday. It makes the healing process more arduous.) This year, due to the pandemic, my emotional state is much worse. I will be home instead of trying to enjoy a little vacation get-a-way to distract from the nightmare that transpired. Avoiding the day and skipping straight to Christmas never seemed like a possibility.
The Grateful Dead – New Riders of the Purple Sage – Marshall Tucker Band concert on September 3, 1977, is a special moment in the Dead’s legendary career. The largest concert in New Jersey history, it drew well over 100,000 fans to hear the Dead in spectacular form (and after a three-month break necessitated by Mickey Hart’s car accident and broken shoulder). Not just the Dead: as Mike Falzarano toured with the New Riders a few years later, most shows would include someone saying that they’d seen the Riders at Englishtown.
It’s a curious sight; the art on the cover is by Stanley Mouse. The liner notes include songs written by David Nelson and Robert Hunter. The first song clocks in at nearly eight minutes. When I opened the envelope that contained “Where I Come From” I admit I was a bit puzzled. Surely this had to be a best of compilation or a live recording? However to my surprise, it was neither, it was a new studio album from the New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Michael Falzarano is like a hidden hand, we've all heard his music, but many would be surprised by his musical resume. So it might be helpful to start with Michael's past in order to explain how his new album came to be. For over 35 years Falzarano has been a member of some of the more influential groups in jamband history.
There is a new trend in the music industry today, bands which have been broken up for decades reforming suddenly in order to cash in on the pocketbooks and prosperity of their baby-boomer generation fans.