Article and images by Bill Kelly
Early in their first set, Dave Nelson explained that the current line up of the band, which includes original pedal steel (post Garcia) player Buddy Cage, guitarist Mike Falzarano, bassist Ronnie Penque and Johnny Markowski on drums, is the longest tenured in their 40 plus year history. Even more remarkable, the band is touring behind its new release 17 Pine Avenue, following 2009’s Where I Come From.
So how does a band, whose eponymous 1971 release featured musicians from the Grateful Dead, Commander Cody and Jefferson Airplane, stay current in an era that defies musical definition? There is no “prevelent” genre; Rock and Roll is not king, Disco has morphed and faded, Country, alt-Country, Techno, House, Rap, Hip Hop etc. etc. all clamber for ears and market share.
Perhaps the answer lies within another question - Does it need to? NRPS was never clearly ensconced in any major musical camp, often categorized under the hazy “American Psychedlic” sub genre. Maybe the best way to understand the longevity of a group like this is to consider other iconic musicians that played well into their latter years - stalwarts such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, BB King et al. NRPS serves the music - a uniquely American blend of country, rock and all of the influences that shaped that music, from Celtic reels to Delta blues. And Friday night at the Boulton, they served it well. Featuring songs from across their catalog, the band played two strong sets, showcasing new Nelson-Hunter songs along with classics such as Dirty Business and the well received cover of the Stones Dead Flowers.Clearly in it for the long haul, this iteration of NRPS reminds us all of where we come from.
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