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Full Nelson
by Haven James

Preview:David Nelson Band at Joyous Lake
Date:Sunday, January 24 [1999]

The perfect cure for blizzard blues blows into town this weekend. Left Coast based and laden with laurels from the glory days of San Francisco music, the David Nelson Band will play the Joyous Lake this Sunday, January 24 [1999], at 8 p.m. They'll do two full sets of original music from their star studded history, as well as new songs from "Visions Under The Moon," an album they're completing here in Woodstock with Band producer Aaron Hurwitz.

Any fans or followers of the Grateful Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Kingfish, Ratdog, the Jerry Garcia Band, Robert Hunter's bands, or any number of "other ones" from this genre had best mark this night as a lock. David Nelson and a couple of his band mates are all veterans of these ventures, and have developed their own variations over the past five years. A while back, the DNB played the hole-in-the-wall Rhinecliff Hotel and transformed the bluestone basement hall into a psychedelic panorama.

Barry Sless plays lead guitar and pedal steel and is in closest sympathy to the Garcia sound as any guitarist you'll hear. It's not that he's a clone by any means; it's simply that he has that touch, that sense of the interstices between the notes that open the doors to the secret corridors. It was actually quite surprising that Sless was not selected to be the guitarist for the Further Tour (although he may have declined because of his commitment to this band), as most recently he played with Bob Weir in both of Weir's bands, Kingfish and Ratdog.

Band leader Nelson played with Garcia, Hunter, and the Wild Boys in the '60s, but really came to fame as a founding member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Everybody knows "Panama Red"; David Nelson sang that one. In addition, he played guitar on three Grateful Dead albums, played and recorded in Garcia's acoustic band, did a bluegrass stint with the Good Ol' Boys, and did extensive work with songwriter Robert Hunter, who has written many tunes the David Nelson Band has recorded, including some for the new CD.

"He's not a real hit oriented guy but, he does have a following," says Burt Penchansky of Burt's Electronics in Kingston, one of those devoted followers who happens to be producing this show at the Lake. Speaking of the New Riders days, Burt adds that he sees Nelson as coming from the "more music savvy side of the Riders."

Mookie Siegel, also from Rat Dog and Kingfish, plays keyboards and accordion with the DNB. Arthur Steinhorn does drums, and Bill Laymon, a Starship, Garcia Band and Kingfish veteran, is the bassist.

"Visions Under The Moon," which will be the band's third album, was mostly recorded live at the old Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. Legendary Grateful Dead sound wizard Dan Healy also worked on the project, as did Zero percussionist Greg Anton. The album will be released as soon as Hurwitz ties up the finishing touches with the band in the days following the gig at the Lake. Then the DNB departs on tour with Zero, a special holiday get-away to Hawaii (see details linked from the Werewolves website if you wanna go). The David Nelson Band also has a video coming out soon, and there's a documentary film in the works. Their debut recording, "Limited Edition", is pretty hard to find, but the second album, "Keeper Of The Key," recorded live at the Eight By Ten Club in Baltimore, is still available and can probably be acquired at the Lake.

Tickets are only $10 and Werewolves guarantees you'll get twice the music some other shows costing twice the price have brought. The show starts early; there's no opening act, so it ought to start close to the listed kickŠoff at 8 p.m. Advance tickets can be obtained at Burt's Electronics in Kingston. Further info and links to David Nelson's web site and related sources like the Hawaii trip can be reached via Werewolves on the Web. See ya at the Lake!

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on January 9th, 1999

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