Buddy Cage Interview
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Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

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Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage


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Buddy Cage 

New Riders of The Purple Sage - discography - cd reviewsNew Riders of The Purple Sage - discography - cd reviews

New Riders of the Purple Sage - Reviews and recommendations - Discography Flying Burrito Brothers - The Byrds

Buddy Cage Interview

Our exclusive interview with Buddy Cage mostly discusses the New Riders album Where I Come From, release date, June 2, 2009. It is a very impressive album. We also cover some other topics. Enjoy.

Buddy Cage has performed on countless albums. We talk about a few of them during the interview. For a more complete discography check out the Buddy Cage page on Wikipedia.

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

Buddy, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions today.

Many famous disbanded groups reform for many different reasons. What's the motivation behind reforming the New Riders?

Buddy Cage (BC)
New material. New material and real money offered for us to do some concerts. The reason we split up in 1982, at least from my standpoint was lack of new songs.
I detest 'cover bands' or 'tribute bands' if you like when they promote themselves as the next best thing. They are not. They usually turn up as frail facsimiles or worse, banal interpretations of the originals. This will never happen with New Riders, at least as long as I'm part of it.

No matter how faithful a band of players tries to copy the original, using all their skills - how can they presume to capture the zeitgeist that created them and their original music, the playing of it, in the first place.

The New Riders have their first album, Where I Come From, in quite some time. Besides your first album, The New Riders always included a number of cover songs on their albums. For the new CD there seems to be no shortage of original material, 12 tracks and nearly 75 minutes. Where did all of the ideas come from?

(BC) Well, referring back to question #1, Nelson already had a battery of tunes which were at least to me, new - we added those over a period of a couple months and it seems that there was some strong identification from members of the Grateful Dead Family, including Robert Hunter. Hunter seemed to like the fact we were kickin' it again and was moved to send us some new songs of his. Add Nelson's chord structure, melodies and such - they took off and the band just moved right in, playing our asses off!

Lyrist Robert Hunter teamed up with David to pen over half of the songs on the new album. Over the years, they've composed songs together here and there, but not to this extent. Can you share some thoughts on putting the music together as a band around their songs?

(BC) It happened like this: David would present a song in a soundcheck, the New Riders guys would add their own licks and arrangemental aspects to it - we would be learning it together, pretty much how it's always been done by us. Eventually, we would step off the edge of the World one night and the little fucker would appear on our set list! Yikes! But then, being NRPS, we were always ready for a train wreck... 

The new material has similarities to the New Riders style with elements of blues, country, and rock, 
(BC) Well natch - it's us... but this music seems much more upbeat, powerful, and harder. Was this a bi-product of the new band members style, or David's writing? 

(BC) Both. I don't know how I could divide the two. It's all sorta one style.

The new album starts off in nice fashion with the title track. You have a nice riff, looping, circling action. Really catchy. It sounds like your pedal steel riff is soaring overhead listening for the time to let loose. Both you and David seem fired up, especially at the end.

(BC) Crazy. We're both crazy. Manic? Nuts? I dunno, just seems to be the way we do things together. We work off each other - it's always been like that. We listen to each other. He bends my head and I respond and vice versa...

There is quite a bit of positive energy that comes across from listening to the album. It gives the impression that much of the recording has a live approach rather than layered studio tracks. 

(BC) I feel that too! 

So am I correct that there aren't many overdubs used? 

(BC) Not many. The vocals, some - mostly first takes for the playing. For me, I just lay into a track with about 1, 2 or as many as 3 takes. I usually get most of what we want on the first take, actually..

It's the feel, I'm after - let's face it, I've been doing this a long time. Like Eastwood says to the cameraman after a one-taker, "Did you get the profile? Well then, print it!"

The New Riders have always included a lot of blues material since their first album. The tradition is carried on with Where I Come From. "Them Old Minglewood Blues" is quite effective and edgy, while Falzarano's track "Something In The Air" takes on more of folk blues tone. Though, "Blues Barrel" may be the best of them.  It starts out slow, and the riffs build nicely, a really nice pedal steel solo. One trademark of your pedal steel playing is a real command of the blues. Do you recall how you first began appreciating the blues and who influenced you from that genre? 

(BC) I worked with Amos Garrett in the Great Speckled Bird, Ian & Sylvia Tyson's band and I learned SO MUCH! My mentor. When I first heard him play, our first rehearsal - I was struck dumb. All I wanted to do was to play something that didn't sound too lame, up against the stuff he was blowing! 

There are plenty of blues slide guitarist, but not so many incorporate the pedal steel guitar. Do you have any thoughts on why the pedal steel isn't used more often with blues? 

(BC) Frankly, I could care less. I never went out to carve a name in the steel guitar community - there are so many great ones, in so many styles. But my ambition was never to 'go Nashville', to join that fucked up sideman scene. I thought I'd like my tombstone to read, "That Guy Could Rock"

Well Buddy you certain can. I just just finished listening to the New Riders new archive release from Winterland 12/31/77. The last three songs of Chuck Berry's "You Can Never Tell," the original "Glendale Train,", and The Rolling Stones "Dead Flowers," now that rocks! But let's continue discussing the new album.

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

Chuck Berry covers have been a long been a staple of the New Riders repertoire. The final track, "Rockin' with Nona" on the new album has a little Chuck Berry in it doesn't it? 

(BC) Yeah, now that you mention it, it does!

"Ghost Train Blues" is the perhaps the most interesting song on the album. It's not easy to write a ten minute song that keeps ones attention. The western themes are wild, the beat is powerful, the solos are wildly effective, both separate and and when you and David play off each others patterns. Is this song as fun to play as it sounds like it is? 

(BC) Oh - INDEED!! Such a great song!

 "I'm tired of this Ghost Train" C'mon - pick it up, get it together!

This song seems showcase the newest members rhythmic talents quite well. Is this song effective live? 

(BC) Much! Hell, it gets most folks up! Does what it should do - sends that message!!!

I notice that the new material allows for more stretching out and looser jams than previous New Riders albums. 

(BC) Older stuff was done with eyes to airplay, hits, commercial hits. 

We discussed "Ghost Train Blues." Other songs like "Barracuda Moon" go to interesting places. Michael Falzarano's has been quoted as noting this as his favorite on the CD. Are you as high on that song as he is? 

(BC) Somewhat.

Do you have a favorite song on the disc or are there any special moments in the recording process that comes to mind that you'd like to share? 

(BC) I like Blues Barrel most. Carl Perkins knocks me out too!

Let's discuss in more detail the three newest members of the band. 

They each added at least song to the album. I found the songs to give nice contrast to the Hunter Nelson songs. Drummer Johnny Markowski's composition "Higher" I really took a liking to. I find the song has a southern rock feel to it with the story telling of Charlie Daniels, and the guitar playing of the Allman Brothers, perhaps a hint of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Your pedal steel parts on "Higher" are among my favorites on the album. How did you come up with that? 

(BC) It just happens. I don't consult with anyone - we leave each other alone when it comes to 'how or what', generally...

"Olivia Rose" is a nice ballad contributed by bassist Ronny Penque. It isn't a typical New Riders song, but it does add nice balance to the album. His voice is bright and clean and it seems to carry over to the back-up vocals. Is it me or did the band approach the vocals on this song with a different attitude? 

(BC) Nelson brings in pointers/standards on how NRPS' harmonies were always pretty damn tight - "those guys, Dawson, Torbert & Nelson were no slouches when it came to vocals". That set the bar rather high, don'tcha think?

Sure. Dawson, Torbert & Nelson voices fit the New Riders material perfectly. I think what I'm hearing and referring to is different range and tone.

On the new album the New Riders invited keyboardist Mookie Siegel to play on nearly half of the album. The New Riders doesn't permanently maintain a keyboardist outside of frequent guest appearances. Can you elaborate on the including Mookie on the album. 

(BC) Just seemed to add something we wanted. Plus, with Mookie, we were pretty much looking forward to what he would come up with.

Mookie's positive contributions are noticeable whether on the mellow country tingled melodic "Down the Middle," and he really seems to drive the band to close  the disc on "Rockin' with Mona." What do you listen for with the keyboards to get inspiration for your contributions? 

(BC) A different hit.  

How much of the new music do you mix into live performances? 

(BC) All

How is new material being received in concert? 

(BC) Tremendously, folks young and old are singing the lyrics with us!


Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

Moving away from the new album to some general topics.  I'd like to get your insight into playing with others types of instruments. 

(BC)It doesn matter - I can try to fit with any instruments. A Duo, a Nonet, Decatet - I can usually come up with something to complement rather than compete with...

Regarding guitar types, country music is closely linked to the combination of pedal steel guitar and electric guitars, specifically the Telecaster, though the Telecaster is also used by many rock and blues players very effectively. The NRPS also use the pedal steel and Telecaster as their primary soloing outlet. Do you notice anything special about the Telecaster's tone and how it seems to marry so well with the sounds of the pedal steel guitar? 

(BC) Never analyzed it but if you think you're a pretty good guitar player, you might try your technique out on a Tele! You're in for a shock. You won't sound as good as you think you are. It is a far less forgiving six string instrument. Better go back to the woodshed for a couple more years. It does work well with PS - James Burton & Ralph Mooney were fair examples of that kind of love!  

You mention James Burton. I'm a big fan of his playing. I love his what he did on Gram Parsons on his two solo studio albums, they're perfect. I always felt Gram had so much unfinished music left. You two would make a good pairing. Gram always had pedal steel backing his amazing voice and careless ways from the Byrds onward. 

If we could bring back the dead, I can imagine a reformed Flying Burrito Brothers band with founders Gram, and Chris Ethridge. Add to that the Clarence White on guitar, Keith Godchaux on piano, yourself on pedal steel, along with any drummer.  We're allowed to dream can't we? 

(BC) Certainly.

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage
Keith Godchaux
We spoke earlier about keyboards with the New Riders. In the fall of 1973 the Grateful Dead's keyboardist Keith Godchaux sat in with the NRPS on a number of occasions (The NRPS Archive release, Live: Worcester, MA 4/4/73 includes Keith) What was it like playing with Keith? 

(BC) Like I was saying about playing with others, Keith had such a compelling way of integrating his thoughts with a band, just right up my alley. Listening to each other!!!!

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

Joining the New Riders
After you took over the reins of the pedal steel for Jerry, how were you received in that role, especially when you opened up for the Grateful Dead?  

(BC) I had never before met such a group of generous people like the GD, including ALL their crew & staff AND Bill Graham!!!!!!!!!! Generous musically, spiritually. Kindness you just don't see every day. 

The New Riders were one of the bands performing at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ back on Sept. 3, 1977, as an opening act for the Grateful Dead. I understand there was over 100,000 in attendance. What is it like playing for such a large crowd?  (The GD released their performance of that show on Dick's Picks Vol. 15)

(BC) Very moving, very intense. 

Marshall Tucker was on the bill too. I always thought The New Riders and Marshall Tucker Band shared many similar traits, namely incorporating blues, county, and rock into their sound and importantly, some flat out great picking in both bands. Do you like them much? 

(BC) Loved 'em! Toy was a pal... 


Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

On the topic of opening up for the Grateful Dead, the NRPS recently released a new archival release from Winterland on 12/31/77. Another show where the New Riders opened for the Grateful Dead. The encore includes a cover of The Rolling Stones song "Dead Flowers." You guys really nail that. How did the idea of playing that song come about? 

(BC) I think Nelson was pretty impressed with Keith Richard's style and just threw it in... 

Since we're talking about the Stones, the NRPS also include in their live performances "Honky Tonk Women," which started before your time in the band. So who's the big Stones fan? 

(BC) Me, Nelson - all of us actually. When that song came out, I was trying to learn the guitar part. My friend Ray Perdue (another mentor), a Tele player from Canada flattened me with the astonishing observation that the guitar was over-dubs, multiple tracking - there was NO WAY I was a-gonna capture that break successfully! Alas...

The Rolling Stones session pianist Nicky Hopkins is credited on the New Riders second studio album. What was it like playing with Nicky?

(BC) He MADE that whole album work. After a month of recording, nothing was cohesive, nothing gelled. And he came in, laid down some overdubs and SHAZZAM! It was shit together. I'll never forget Nicky for that!!!

That's not surprising to her. The bonus disc from Garcia's box set, All Good Things, has some interesting studio chatter between Jerry and Nicky that reinforces your comment. There a medley entitled "Hully Gully/Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" where they throw ideas off of each other and jam. 

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

Session work
One of our website's primary focus is to recommend exceptional music. You've played session work on many great albums. For those that are interested in hearing some of your playing outside of the New Riders, does anything come to mind you'd recommend? 

(BC) Ryan Montbleu. Boris Garcia. The Gift-A Tribute to the Songs of Ian Tyson.

A few recent albums you played on that I'm familiar with include New Riders member Michael Falzarano's solo album, We Are All On, and Boris Garcia, Once More Into Bliss. From the Boris Garcia release, the song "Through The Window" is great. How did you like working with them? 

(BC) Beautiful, with Tim Carbone producing!!

I thought Tim's fiddle playing on the album was excellent too.

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

What are you currently working on? 

(BC) Johnny Markowki's new cd - Joanne Lediger from Stir Fried

Best of luck with the new album. It's fantastic and gets better upon each listen.

Thanks Buddy. We really appreciate it. 

(BC) You bet, Barry

Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage
Live Archive releases:
The New Riders of the Purple Sage
Below are the live New Riders of the Purple Sage archive releases from the Kufala label as of June 2009. 
Live: Worcester, MA 4/4/73
w/ Keith Godchaux
Boston Music Hall, 12/5/1972 Live at Veneta, OR 8/27/1972
 Disc: 1 
 1. I Don't Know You
  2. Lochinvar
  3. Rainbow
  4. It's Alright With Me
  5. Sailin'
  6. Whatcha Gonna Do
  7. California Day
  8. Linda
  9. Groupie
10. One Too Many Stories
11. Contract
12. Teardrops in My Eyes
13. Long Black Vail
14. You Ain't Woman Enough
15. Whiskey

Disc 2
  1. Dirty Business
  2. Down In The Boondocks
  3. Hello Mary Lou
  4. You Should Have Seen Me Runnin'
  5. Portland Woman
  6. Henry
  7. Glendale Train
  8. Last Lonely Eagle
  9. Louisiana Lady
10. Willie and the Hand Jive
 Disc: 1 
1. Truck Drivin' Man
  2. Whatcha Gonna Do
  3. Hello Mary Lou
  4. Rainbow
  5. Down In The Boondocks
  6. Portland Woman
  7. She's No Angel
  8. School Days
  9. Henry
10. Long Black Veil
11. Salin'
12. Contract
13. Glendale Train
14. Louisiana Lady

Disc 2
  1. I Don't Know You
  2. Sutter's Mill
  3. Groupie
  4. Whiskey
  5. Last Lonely Eagle
  6. Willie And The Hand Jive
  7. I Love To Sing My Ballad, Mama (But They Only Wanna Hear Me Rock N' Roll)
  8. Honky Tonk Women
  1. Dirty Business
  2. Down In The Boondocks
  3. Hello Mary Lou
  4. You Should Have Seen Me Runnin'
  5. Portland Woman
  6. Henry
  7. Glendale Train
  8. Last Lonely Eagle
  9. Louisiana Lady
10. Willie and the Hand Jive


3/17/73 S.U.N.Y.
12/31/77 Winterland
 Disc: 1 
1. I Don't Know You 
2. Panama Red 
3. Lonesome L.A. Cowboy 
4. Austin, Texas 
5. Instant Armadillo Blues 
6. Teardrops In My Eyes 
7. Dirty Business 
8. Henry 
9. Sutter's Mill 
10. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke 
11. Louisiana Lady 
12. Strangers On A Train 
13. Portland Woman 

Disc 2
1. I'm Bringing Home Good News 
2. You Angel You 
3. She's No Angel 
4. My Dog Peaches 
5. On The Amazon 
6. Before The Next Teardrop Falls 
7. Over And Over 
8. Whiskey 
9. Crooked Judge 
10. I Will Never Make You Blue 
11. New Orleans 
12. La Bamba 
13. Glendale Train 
14. Dead Flowers 
15. Nadine 
Disc: 1 
1. Amazing Grace Tuneup / Introduction
2. Teardrops In My Eyes
3. One Too Many Stories
4. Take A Letter Maria
5. School Days
6. Portland Woman
7. It's Alright With Me
8. Rainbow
9. Hello Mary Lou
10. Lochinvar
11. She's No Angel
12. You Should Have Seen Me Runnin'
13. Long Black Veil
14. Truck Drivin' Man
15. Contract
16. Sweet Lovin' One
17. Groupie
18. Sutter's Mill
19. I Don't Need No Doctor

Disc 2
1. Henry
2. Crazy Arms
3. Glendale Train
4. All I Ever Wanted
5. Whiskey
6. Who Likes Louie Louie?
7. California Day
8. Louisiana Lady
9. Last Lonely Eagle
10. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud, Loud Music
11. Willie And The Hand Jive
12. Connection
13. Honky Tonk Women

Disc: 1 
1. Hello Mary Lou 
2. Little Old Lady 
3. Fifteen Days Under The Hood 
4. Love Has Strange Ways 
5. Henry 
6. Home Grown 
7. One Too Many Stories 
8. Red Hot Women and Ice Cold Beer 
9. Oh What A Night 
10. Little Miss Bad 

Disc: 2 
1. Jasper 
2. Louisiana Lady 
3. T For Texas 
4. Portland Woman 
5. Crooked Judge 
6. You Never Can Tell 
7. Glendale Train 
8. Dead Flowers 
Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Rolling Stones
Below are some must have Rolling Stones CD's. 


Exile On Main Street Sticky Fingers Let It Bleed
1. Rocks Off 
2. Rip This Joint 
3. Shake Your Hips
4. Casino Boogie 
5. Tumbling Dice 
6. Sweet Virginia 
7. Torn and Frayed 
8. Sweet Black Angel 
9. Loving Cup 
10. Happy 
11. Turd on the Run 
12. Ventilator Blues 
13. I Just Want to See His Face 
14. Let It Loose 
15. All Down the Line 
16. Stop Breaking Down 
17. Shine a Light 
18. Soul Survivor 
1. Brown Sugar 
2. Sway 
3. Wild Horses 
4. Can't You Hear Me Knocking 
5. You Gotta Move
7. I Got the Blues 
8. Sister Morphine 
9. Dead Flowers 
10. Moonlight Mile 
  1. Gimme Shelter
  2. Love In Vain
  3. Country Honk
  4. Live With Me
  5. Let It Bleed
  6. Midnight Rambler
  7. You Got The Silver
  8. Monkey Man
  9. You Can't Always Get What You Want

Amos Garrett

Amos Garrett plays on the hit "Midnight on the Oasis" from Maria Muldaur. 

Maria Muldaur Great Speckled Bird  Amos Garrett
Buddy Cage Interview - Where I Come From New Riders of the Purple Sage

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