A look inside the vinyl edition of "Live at The Troubadour" by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux
This August, the ever-prolific 7a Records issued Live at The Troubadour by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux as a limited edition 2LP gatefold on 180g opaque gold vinyl. The set also happens to feature a special bonus performance of the song "Rio." A compact disc version was also released.
And now, thanks (as always) to Ben Belmares, you can take a look at the LP version of Live at The Troubadour below. Thanks, Ben!
Before you do, don't forget to order your copy of Live at The Troubadour on Amazon US or Amazon UK!
EXCLUSIVE! 7a Records announces the release of "Michael Nesmith and The First National Band Redux Live at the Troubadour" deluxe CD and 2-LP gatefold vinyl
The Monkees Live Almanac is happy to share the official press releases from 7a Records announcing their latest project: a live recording documenting Michael Nesmith's historic return to the Troubadour in Los Angeles with the First National Band Redux! Thank you very much to 7a co-founders Glenn Gretlund and Iain Lee for passing along all of the details. Don't forget to follow 7a Records on Facebook and Twitter. And you can read more about 7a's past releases in the archives of the Live Almanac.
THE PRESS RELEASE
2-LP GATEFOLD VINYL DETAILS
COMPACT DISC DETAILS
OFFICIAL PREVIEW VIDEO
With a more robust band, fresh arrangements, Micky being Micky and a rejuvenated Nez, "The Mike and Micky Show" turned out to be the ultimate Monkees concert many have been waiting on for decades.
The set list was perfect! Early/middle/late periods of the Monkees era were covered (and Good Times!, too). All of the Nez songs you wanted to hear were played. Songs that have been aired frequently during recent tours were dropped, while other warhorses were reinvented in ways that made them feel like new releases. The deep cuts were dynamic, rewarding, and ultimately delivered on pre-tour expectations.
The band was tight. The addition of Paul Kramer's fiddle and Pete Finney's slide guitar breathed new life into the arrangements. Circe Link and Christian Nesmith added relative youth and energy. The re-worked arrangements of many of the songs on the set list added so much soul to nearly every song. Both Wayne Avers and Christian deserve accolades for their work in this department.
The Monkees themselves were at the peak of their craft, which is quite an accomplishment considering their age. Micky and Mike's harmonies were beautiful, as always. Nez looked engaged and happy. His voice sounded as rich today as it did in 1968. That being said, it can never be forgotten that Micky is the consummate entertainer and a wonderful singer. There was so much energy in their performance, and if you closed your eyes, the whole show felt like 1968. Furthermore, the camaraderie between the band appeared authentic. It looked like everyone was having fun and enjoying themselves. Christian and Mike; Mike and Micky; each had special moments.
A paragraph could be written about every song that was performed at the concert in Chicago. I will highlight just a few:
The performances of "Listen to the Band," "You Told Me," "Sweet Young Thing," and "Sunny Girlfriend" were infinitely superior at these shows. The arrangements, background vocals, and Mike’s ability to hit higher notes made it truly special.
I was so happy to see the return of "As We Go Along." This is Micky at his finest and one of the best songs in The Monkees' catalog.
It was also gratifying to witness "Accidental Hipster" being played. A fully contemporary sounding song, and a great match for Micky and Mike.
The Monkees as a whole have cemented their place as one of the greatest bands of all time. What other group with multiple #1 hits in the 1960s ever produced more pleasing, contemporary music 50 years later and achieved this type of longevity?
We can now all retire as happy and satisfied Monkees fans.
In this video, Circe Link, Christian Nesmith, Alex Jules, and Coco Dolenz harmonize on the Beatles classic "Nowhere Man" before the show at the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton, California on June 8. They are joined for some comic relief by John Billings:
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux have announced that they will return to the road in September 2018!
This past January during a 5-date jaunt throughout California, Nez brought new life to his initial post-Monkees outfit. Originally consisting of Nez, Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware, the group released three albums between 1970 and 1971, but their live performance history was fairly limited. Ignored and almost shunned by audiences and peers during their heyday, the music of the First National Band has since been cited by critics and contemporaries as a pioneering influence in the country rock genre.
In one of the more unexpected moves of Michael's career, a reconstituted First National Band hit the road in early 2018 with Christian Nesmith (guitar), Jonathan Nesmith (piano/guitar/vocals), Circe Link (vocals), Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Amy Spear (vocals), and Pete Finney (pedal steel). Sadly, original members Rhodes and London have passed away, but Ware gave his blessing to the project and wished everyone well. The limited run of concerts by the First National Band Redux, as they were dubbed, were ultimately a critical and commercial triumph.
Here are the dates for the group's September tour. Half of the shows go on sale this Friday, June 8. Stay tuned to the Live Almanac for future on sale dates as they are made available.
September 7: The Heights Theater / Houston, Texas
September 8: Paramount Theatre / Austin, Texas
September 9: The Kessler Theater / Dallas, Texas
September 11: CMA Theater / Nashville, Tennessee
September 13: Old Town School of Folk Music / Chicago, Illinois
September 14: Royal Oak Music Theatre / Royal Oak, Michigan
September 15: The Kent Stage / Kent, Ohio
September 17: The Birchmere / Alexandria, Virginia
September 19: Somerville Theatre / Somerville, Massachusetts
September 20: The Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture / New York, New York
September 22: The Colonial Theatre / Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
September 23: The Ridgefield Playhouse / Ridgefield, Connecticut
UPDATE 7/13/18: Videoranch has confirmed that despite Michael's recent illness that postponed the final four dates of "The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" tour, the September concerts with the First National Band Redux are indeed happening:
Nez can be seen below playing a Gretsch sunburst guitar that Andrew Sandoval gave to him in 2013 to have as an alternate to Michael's blonde Gretsch. He'll be playing both on the upcoming tour! Photos of today's rehearsals are courtesy of Videoranch and The Monkees Tour Facebook page.
The photos below emanate from Circe Link's Instagram account and show Micky, Nez, Christian Nesmith, and Wayne Avers during this week's rehearsals at Videoranch for the upcoming tour.
The next photo shows Wayne and his music stand with a list of songs. In the event you don't want a preview of some of the songs being rehearsed for the tour (and just to note, there are more songs being rehearsed than what is seen below), you might want to quickly scroll past this photo and the text that follows it!
Here are the selections that appear on Wayne's music stand above:
Good Clean Fun
The Door Into Summer
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
Love Is Only Sleeping
Birth of an Accidental Hipster
Me & Magdalena
Papa Gene's Blues
Randy Scouse Git
Nine Times Blue
I'll Spend My Life With You
Take a Giant Step
Auntie's Municipal Court
You Told Me
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?
Wayne Avers speaks to The Monkees Live Almanac about "The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" and the touring band
On June 1, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz will begin their first tour as a duo at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, Arizona. Entitled "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show," fans have already been promised a set list full of surprises and deep cuts, and the 17-date tour is likely to be one of the most unique in the live performance history of The Monkees.
Longtime Monkees guitarist and musical director Wayne Avers recently spoke with the Live Almanac about the upcoming concerts. "The Nez and Micky combination gives us a chance to play some songs that have never been played live by The Monkees before," Wayne said. "It's also the 50th anniversary of the movie Head, so we will highlight some of the songs from its soundtrack. And of course, besides all of the new selections added to the set list, we will play all of the classic Monkees hits everyone loves to hear."
Wayne also revealed the musicians that will constitute the backing band, and the lineup includes both familiar and fresh faces. "We have added steel guitarist Pete Finney (from Nez’s First National Band) and Paul Kramer from Nashville on fiddle/banjo/guitar so we can replicate the more country-influenced songs of The Monkees more accurately."
Wayne Avers / Guitars & Vocals
Wayne Avers is no stranger to Monkees fans. He has been a part of The Monkees' family since the group's 30th Anniversary Tour in 1996, acting as musical director and handling lead guitar duties. Wayne has performed onstage with all four Monkees at Wembley in 1997, appeared twice on The Tonight Show with the group, and took part in The Monkees' massive 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016. Residing in Nashville, Wayne is an ardent collector of guitars. "I play the guitar because I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964," he told the Live Almanac in April 2017.
Christian Nesmith / Guitars & Vocals
Christian is Michael's eldest son and first joined The Monkees' touring band upon his father's return to the group in 2012. His songs have been heard in both film and TV (Blades of Glory, The Hills Have Eyes, Lionheart) and he has composed commercials for companies ranging from AOL to ESPN to Starbucks. His theater credits include being the musical director for the first ever production of Hair in Moscow, Russia. Christian was also musical director for Hair in Los Angeles in 2007 (which also featured Circe Link), and that production was awarded Best Musical of the Year by LA Weekly. In 2016, Christian contributed greatly to the arrangement of "Birth of an Accidental Hipster," a key track from The Monkees' album Good Times!
John Billings / Bass
John Billings was introduced to the Monkees family by Wayne Avers. "Wayne had been in the Monkees circle for nearly 20 years and had, at that time, run Micky Dolenz's band. The bass chair opened and Wayne brought me into the fold," John told Epiphone.com. John resides in Nashville, where he owns a recording studio. When performing with The Monkees live in concert, John received some good advice from Avers on how to approach the songs. "Wayne gave us a fundamental direction," John said. "Go back to the records."
Rich Dart / Drums
Rich Dart began his association with The Monkees in 2010 when he started playing drums for Micky Dolenz during his solo performances. He joined The Monkees' backing band in 2012 when Micky, Michael, and Peter Tork delivered a series of concerts in honor of Davy Jones. Rich has had an eclectic career as a free-lance percussionist. He has played with various symphonies, jazz groups, theater troupes, rock bands, country bands, and percussion ensembles. Rich also played drums for Avenue Q on Broadway and for its first national tour, and traveled with a production of Pippin.
Pete Finney / Pedal Steel Guitar
Paul Kramer / Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar
Paul Kramer is a Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter, and this Nesmith/Dolenz tour will mark his first association with The Monkees. Paul has toured with nationally known recording acts including Gary Allan, Travis Tritt, Pam Tillis, Suzy Bogguss, and the Special Consensus Bluegrass Band. His fiddle and mandolin stylings have graced the recordings of Lionel Cartwright, Suzy Bogguss, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, Buddy Spicher & Vassar Clements, and Carolyn Martin. He has released three CDs: Swing Street, The Bloggrass Boys and Low Budget Christmas. He currently performs with several bands including Paul Kramer & Swing Street, 50 Shades of Hay, The Grassaholics, Nashville Fiddle Mafia, and on the General Jackson showboat. (Biography courtesy of 50shadesofhayband.com)
Alex Jules / Keyboards & Vocals
Alex Jules is new to the band (replacing longtime Monkees keyboardist Dave Alexander) and is a New York born and raised rock and roll singer/songwriter now based in Los Angeles. You can sample some of Alex's work on SoundCloud.
Coco Dolenz / Vocals
Micky's sister, Coco, has a long history with The Monkees. She provided harmony and background vocals on such Monkees tracks as "Shortly Blackwell," "Little Girl," "Midnight Train," and "Mommy and Daddy." She wrote for teen magazines in the 1960s at the height of her brother's fame, and in the late 1970s, she toured with Micky and Davy after the dissolution of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In 1987, Coco released her own album, One Voice. She has been touring with The Monkees since 2012. You can also hear Coco at Micky's solo shows, where she often duets with her brother on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Crying in the Rain" while taking over on lead vocals for Michael Nesmith's own "Different Drum."
Circe Link / Vocals
Circe Link joined The Monkees' band for the first time in 2014, performing backing vocals with Coco Dolenz, and more recently performed with Michael Nesmith's First National Band Redux. A singer, songwriter, and musician in her own right, Circe has previously described her music as ranging from "Cowboy Jazz to Alternative to Americana." She has recorded several albums, including a live CD from a successful tour of Japan. Circe writes, records, and performs with her companion, Christian Nesmith.
Be sure to get your tickets to see Micky, Nez, and the band this June. And stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac for more updates soon!
UPDATE 3/9/2019: When "The Mike & Micky Show" returned to the road in March 2019, Paul Kramer was no longer featured in the lineup. Probyn Gregory is the newest member of the touring band and plays guitar, banjo, and trumpet. You can read more about Probyn in this March 2019 post from the Live Almanac's blog.
Earlier this evening, Michael Nesmith was live on Facebook with his son, Christian, as Nez signed copies of the recently released paperback version of his 2017 book, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff.
During the airing, Christian confirmed that Nez and Micky Dolenz have rehearsed Michael's "St. Matthew" for this upcoming June's concerts, and Christian said there was a good chance it could make the set list for the show. "St. Matthew" was recorded during Michael's famous 1968 Nashville sessions but remained in the Monkees vault until 1990, when it appeared on Missing Links Volume 2.
A little later on, Michael's assistant at Videoranch answered a question from a fan about whether or not the First National Band's albums will ever be remastered. She responded by saying "I think that Sony is doing that as we speak."
For years, fans have been clamoring for the First National Band trilogy to be remastered and repackaged, and it's possible (though unconfirmed) that this project is closer to becoming a reality. Sundazed Music is currently taking pre-orders for the FNB albums on colored vinyl, but orders are on hold due to manufacturing delays.
Keep in mind that Michael's assistant could in fact be referring to the Sundazed vinyl releases as they are advertised as being remastered by Bob Irwin. Stay tuned to the Live Almanac for any new information!
This past January during a 5-concert jaunt throughout California, Michael Nesmith brought new life to his initial post-Monkees outfit, The First National Band. Originally consisting of Nez, Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware, the group released three albums between 1970 and 1971, but their live performance history was fairly limited. Ignored and almost shunned by audiences and peers during their heyday, the music of the First National Band has since been cited by critics and contemporaries as a pioneering influence in the country rock genre.
In one of the more unexpected moves of Michael Nesmith's career, a reconstituted First National Band hit the road in early 2018 with Christian Nesmith (guitar), Jonathan Nesmith (piano/guitar/vocals), Circe Link (vocals), Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Amy Spear (vocals), and Pete Finney (pedal steel). Sadly, original members Rhodes and London have passed away, but Ware gave his blessing to the project and wished everyone well.
The concerts by the First National Band Redux, as they were dubbed, were ultimately a critical and commercial triumph. And now, The Monkees Live Almanac is proud to be the first to share the details about a forthcoming live album from 7a Records that will document this unique event in Nesmith/First National Band history.
Since 2015, 7a Records and its proprietors Glenn Gretlund and Iain Lee have been producing Monkees-related releases, including a collection of Micky Dolenz's 1970s MGM singles, Bobby Hart's first solo album, various limited edition vinyl 45s (Dolenz/Davy Jones/Dolenz with Circe Link & Christian Nesmith), and more recently, vintage and new live recordings by both Nesmith and Dolenz. And now 7a has made an agreement with Michael Nesmith and the members of the First National Band to release a live album documenting their January 2018 performances.
"We are extremely proud and excited to be able to work with Michael Nesmith and the First National Band on this album," Glenn told the Live Almanac. "What I have heard so far literally gave me goose bumps. It's that good. By all accounts this will be a superb album and one of 7a Records' biggest releases to date."
Iain was just as enthused. "If you’d have told 15-year-old me I’d be releasing a brand new First National Band live album on my own record label I’d have laughed in your face. This is a dream come true and is the culmination of years of hard work and dreaming from both myself and my business partner Glenn. We make it our business to only release records that we would buy and man, I’d buy a dozen copies of this. It’s a thrill and an honor to be working with Michael and the band on this. And you wait until you hear what Christian [Nesmith] has done with the production. Stunning."
As Iain said, Christian Nesmith is currently in the process of mixing and mastering the recordings, but at this moment, it has not yet been decided whether the album will consist of one full show or a compilation of the best performances from the various stops on the tour. Nez will have the final vote once everything has been mixed.
The following songs are very likely to be included on the album:
Be sure to check back with The Monkees Live Almanac as Glenn and Iain have promised more details about the upcoming First National Band live album release as they become available.
I would also like to take a moment to thank both Glenn Gretlund and Iain Lee for sharing this news with the Live Almanac and its readers, and for their constant support of the site.
UPDATE 4/22/2018: Iain Lee is reporting on Facebook that 7a hopes to release the First National Band live album in July 2018. It will be available on compact disc and as a 2-LP set.
UPDATE 6/18/2018: 7a Records announces the release of "Michael Nesmith and The First National Band Redux Live at the Troubadour" deluxe CD and 2-LP gatefold vinyl
Earlier today on Facebook, Circe Link seemingly confirmed that both she and Christian Nesmith will be a part of the Nesmith/Dolenz concerts this June:
Circe Link joined The Monkees' backing band for the first time during the 2014 spring tour, performing backing vocals with Coco Dolenz, and more recently with Michael Nesmith's First National Band Redux.
A singer, songwriter, and musician in her own right, Circe has previously described her music as ranging from "Cowboy Jazz to Alternative to Americana." She has recorded several albums, including a live CD from a successful tour of Japan.
Circe writes, records, and performs with her companion, Christian Nesmith. "I think putting together a collection of songs is like curating an art show," Circe told Riveting Riffs. "I was a painter for a long time, so I think about things visually. We don't sit on anything around here for a couple of years. If it is hot, it’s hot and we are working on it and we get it out the door. I think that is one of the reasons we are productive."
Circe's most recent album, Enchanted Objects and Ordinary Things, is available on compact disc and as a digital download.
Christian Nesmith is Michael's eldest son and was often seen in photographs in 1960s teen magazines posing with his dad and mom, Phyllis. He joined The Monkees' backing band upon his father's return to the group in 2012.
Christian has a long list of musical accomplishments. His songs have been heard in both film and TV (Blades of Glory, The Hills Have Eyes, Lionheart) and he has composed commercials for companies ranging from AOL to ESPN to Starbucks. His theater credits include being the musical director for the first ever production of Hair in Moscow, Russia. Christian was also musical director for Hair in Los Angeles in 2007 (which also featured Circe Link), and that production was awarded Best Musical of the Year by LA Weekly. In 2016, Christian contributed greatly to the arrangement of "Birth of an Accidental Hipster," a key track from The Monkees' album Good Times!
Christian's latest work, The Other Side, is available on compact disc and as a digital download.
Here's some great footage of Nez along with his two sons, Jonathan and Christian, working out "Tomorrow and Me" in preparation for last month's First National Band Redux tour:
The First National Band, Michael Nesmith's early 1970s post-Monkees outfit that consisted of Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware, is returning as The First National Band Redux for a limited run of shows beginning this evening in Pioneertown, California. Let's take a moment to meet the members of the new configuration of the group as they were recently profiled in an email from Videoranch:
Christopher Allis / Drums
"Christian [Nesmith] and I have been friends for over 15 years at this point and we have backed up many a singer-songwriter in that time. One night early on we were hanging out talking about music and he asked me if I was aware of any of Nez's post-Monkees stuff. I admitted that I wasn't. So, he played me some of the FNB stuff. I was immediately drawn to it. Great tunes. Great vibe. Fast forward a bunch of years, a gaggle of Circe Link records together and even more time in the saddle, and I guess Christian very kindly expressed to Nez that 'Topher is the the guy you want when you need a drummer.' So, when the FNB Redux thing started being discussed, I got the call.
"FNB Redux for me is the start of another chapter. One with a narrative through line that has been around for nearly 50 years! I don't think we are claiming to be anything other than a new start. A next phase. It's a real joy: the opportunity to work with my friends, AND support a true luminary within the music community. It doesn't get much better than that. Dig?"
Jason Chesney / Bass
"I met Circe, Christian, and Jonathan Nesmith at Christopher Allis' birthday party in December 2007. The first conversation I ever had with Christian and Jonathan was about the triptych that opens up Magnetic South, as my current project at the time was navigating our way through "Calico Girlfriend." It wasn't long before Circe and I began turning each other on to our favorite outsider artists. A year and a half later, I was playing bass in Circe & Christian's band.
"The music of Michael Nesmith & The First National Band had been informing me before I even knew it existed, through bands and songwriters that I had played with in my youth who were big fans and heavily inspired by them. When I eventually heard the albums, I loved them straight away. What's not to dig?
"Getting to play with Nez and the FNB Redux is an honor and an absolute joy. It's all medicated Jif and wiggle bar loveliness. It's family and friends. It's American music at its finest...and it's so very surreal and more fun than you can imagine. A dream come true, to be performing this stellar catalog with its creator and this super fine musical outfit...I'm still pinching myself!"
Pete Finney / Pedal Steel Guitar
"I first met Nez in the Spring of 2014, when I filled in for Chris Scruggs on pedal-steel and guitar for the last few weeks of the Movies of the Mind tour. The '70s albums Nez made with Red Rhodes and the First National Band had been long-time favorites of mine, so of course I really enjoyed the experience musically, and also really enjoyed the hang and the conversations that ensued during our travels.
"At that point I was well into co-creating and writing the Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit (and book) on "Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats," which included quite a bit (music, video, photos, and text) from the sessions Nesmith did in Nashville 1968 with many of the musicians who were the main focus of our exhibit. Nez came to Nashville in 2015 for the concert that went with the exhibit opening and we reconnected then, as well as performing together.
"Needless to say I was both flattered and excited when Nez called me some months back to tell me about his plans for the First National Band project and to ask if I would be interested in trying to fill the giant shoes required to recapture the brilliant musicality and adventurous spirit that define Red Rhodes' contributions to those records. All the players (and singers) in the new version of the band are really good, and I’m as excited about these upcoming shows as anything I’ve ever done in several decades of playing for a living, which includes tours with the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and many, many others."
Circe Link / Background Vocals
"My name is Circe Link and I was hitchhiking through the Mojave dessert one dry and sage blown night when I held out my thumb looking for a ride to the cosmic destination unknown. Just then some chugging heap of speed and metal stopped at my side and a door fell open. Behind the wheel sat a long nailed mellow eyed man named Christian Nesmith who told me together we could make beautiful music. That sounded just about right to me, so I climbed in and we’ve been driving ever since. Looks like this next highway has headed us straight into The First National Band Redux with the Cosmic Crooner Michael Nesmith at the helm, heck I don’t even need to kick the wheels to know that this is one hell of a vehicle built for interstellar delight, rhythm and serious groove.
"Oh wait I mean…Howdy I’m Circe Link and I have been the musical partner of Christian Nesmith for the last 15 years. Together we have released over twelve titles spanning from Cowboy Jazz to Pop Rock. I’m delighted to be along for the ride for this historic and grooving as all get out The First National Band Redux!"
Jonathan Nesmith / Guitar and Piano
"A lot of people ask me, 'Jonathan, just how DID you come to be in the First National Band Redux?' Well, when I started 'Jonathan Nesmith & Michael Nesmith & The First National Band' I had been showing up to rehearsals for about a week with my trash can lid and wooden spoon. I'd wail for about 90 minutes into the nearest microphone, pat everyone on the back and leave, then come back and do it all again the next day. After about the fourth or fifth day of trying to hide his surprise when I would walk in the room, Dad pulled me aside and said, 'I'm glad you're here, but…how about referring to us as 'First National Band Redux'?' I said, 'Why the look of resignation?', but he just said, 'And maybe try playing some guitar and a little keys.' It's all taught me a very valuable lesson: It sure is nice to play good songs."
Thank you again to Videoranch for almost all of the photographs and biographies of members of the FNB Redux featured above!
Courtesy of Videoranch, here is a preview of some items that will be available at the merchandise table at the shows. Videoranch also has a lot of other new pieces for sale, too.
In the brand new issue of Mojo (#292/March 2018), Bob Mehr talks to Nez about the First National Band era, joining forces with Ben Gibbard at the upcoming FNB Redux show in San Francisco on January 28, and provides an examination of Michael's discography. You can find this issue of Mojo in bookstores or by ordering it online.
Here's the complete schedule for Michael Nesmith and The First National Band Redux. Meet & Greet opportunities are available for most of the shows. And don't forget to vote in the Live Almanac's current poll where you can choose your favorite First National Band album!
January 21: Pappy & Harriet's / Pioneertown, California (SOLD OUT)
January 23: The Coach House / San Juan Capistrano, California (SOLD OUT)
January 25: The Troubadour / West Hollywood, California (SOLD OUT)
January 26: Rio Theatre / Santa Cruz, California
January 28: The Chapel / San Francisco, California (With Special Guest Ben Gibbard)
Alan Williams and Al Bigley talk to Michael Nesmith about the upcoming concerts with the reconstituted First National Band in this interview on the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast. Christian Nesmith and Circe Link join in on the fun, too. And on that note, Christian confirmed that he produced a Spanish version of "Me & Magdalena," sung by both Michael and Micky Dolenz, which currently sits in Rhino's vault. Enjoy!
Hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement of the More Of The Monkees super deluxe edition by Rhino Records, Michael Nesmith has unveiled his first concert engagements for 2018 with a brand new lineup of The First National Band.
The First National Band was Nesmith's initial post-Monkees outfit that consisted of Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware. The group released three acclaimed albums between 1970 and 1971, but their live performance history was fairly limited. Sadly, both Rhodes and London have passed away. The 2018 edition of the First National Band will consist of Christian Nesmith (guitar), Jonathan Nesmith (piano/guitar/vocals), Circe Link (vocals), Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Amy Spear (vocals), and Pete Finney (pedal steel).
In January, for two dates in California, Nesmith will bring the music of The First National Band back to the live arena with a series of shows focused on his early 1970s RCA recordings, including a concert on January 25th at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where he debuted the First National Band in March 1970. A press release on Monkees.com reported the following: "Songs like 'Different Drum' (a Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys), 'Listen to the Band' (re-recorded by the FNB in 1970), 'Some of Shelly’s Blues' (covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and 'Silver Moon' will join lesser-known but equally transcendent album sides in a rebirth of what was labeled by critics as 'the greatest music that you never heard.'" It is expected that dates will be added nationwide.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval confirmed on Twitter that he will be involved in these concerts, and that he hopes live recordings will become a reality. "For me personally, this is the music of Michael's that I always come back to - revelatory, heartfelt and transcendent," Sandoval wrote on Facebook. "The albums - Magnetic South, Loose Salute, Nevada Fighter, Hits Keeps Coming, Ranch Stash & Tantamount - are brimming with brilliance. Those of you who have followed his story know that 'Papa Nes' became Nez, and went in new directions after this phase of his solo career. For these shows he will at long last call back to these records with full-blown country-rock backing and I am so excited to hear the results." Sandoval also noted on Facebook that John Ware is contemplating a cameo appearance.
Tickets for the California shows will go on sale on Friday:
January 23, 2018: The Coach House / San Juan Capistrano, California
January 25, 2018: The Troubadour / West Hollywood, California
Here is the full press release about the new activities surrounding the First National Band, courtesy of Monkees.com:
Almost fifty years ago, in May 1968, Michael Nesmith ventured to Nashville to record a series of groundbreaking sessions with local musicians. What they produced is now recognized as the foundation of the country-rock and alt-country movements.
"I could just feel this happening, that there was this 'thing,'" recalled Nez. "So, I headed off to Nashville to see if I couldn't get some of the Nashville country thing into the rock'n'roll or vice versa."
Nez's intuition was correct; he was on the leading edge of a new genre. His exploratory work caught the attention of legendary RCA A&R man Felton Jarvis who had produced the Nashville sessions with Nez. In February 1970, Jarvis signed Nez and his new band, the First National Band (pedal steel virtuoso Red Rhodes, bassist John London, and drummer John Ware), to a deal with the venerable imprint and produced their first record, Magnetic South.
Despite the eight innovative country-rock LP's Nesmith created between 1970 and 1978, he is one of the less heralded architects of the genre. The First National Band's three classic albums -- Magnetic South, Loose Salute, and Nevada Fighter -- spawned four charting singles, including "Joanne" which reached #21 on the Billboard Top 100. However, live success for the fledgling band was harder to come by and the musicians Nez collected to bring his country-rock dream to market soon scattered. Nez played out his remaining RCA albums with Red Rhodes and toured with him throughout the '70s. Yet the full-blown sounds of the First National Band were never to be heard on the concert stage again.
In January 2018, Michael Nesmith will bring this music back to the live arena with a series of shows focused on his RCA recordings, including a show on January 25th at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where he debuted the First National Band in March 1970. Songs like "Different Drum" (a Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys), "Listen to the Band", "Some of Shelly's Blues" (covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and "Silver Moon" will join lesser-known but equally transcendent album sides in a rebirth of what was labeled by critics as "the greatest music that you never heard."
UPDATE 11/8/2017: Michael's Videoranch3D website has taken a moment to look back at the First National Band:
The Original Band
"[John] Ware wisely pointed out that if he and John [London] were my band, we could not only record but could tour in support of the records we made, something the Nashville first-call session guys seldom did for a new band. We would be a real band rather than a pure studio effort. ... [John] wondered who I might like to approach, and my first choice was Red Rhodes. I had no hope of him accepting, but he was my first choice. A pedal steel guitar player -- especially a magical-reality player like Red -- was critical-path for the music in my head."
-Michael Nesmith, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff
Pedal Steel Guitar
Nez first came across Red at The Palomino Club, a popular country western spot in North Hollywood, where Red was in the house band. Red played with Nez throughout the 1970s. It is impossible to imagine Nez's music without Red's playing. Red's final performances before his death were with Nez on his ...tropical campfires... album and tour in 1992.
John began working with Nez as a duo before they left San Antonio for Hollywood in the mid-60s. After joining The Survivors with Nez, he was Nez's stand-in on The Monkees. He met John Ware while working as a bass player for Linda Ronstadt.
Prior to joining the First National Band, John attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and met John London while playing in Linda Ronstadt's touring band. Years after the First National Band dissolved, he joined Nez for Live at the Palais, recorded at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, in 1977.
UPDATE 11/21/2017: The concert at the Troubadour in Hollywood sold out in less than an hour, and as of November 21, there are no longer tickets available for the performance at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
Yesterday, Nez stopped by and sang with Circe and Christian during their latest online performance:
Christian Nesmith posted this picture on his Facebook page just now showing Micky, Michael, and the band in rehearsals for this week's upcoming concerts in Tuscon and Phoenix, Arizona, and Friday night's big homecoming show in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre.
Circe Link and Christian Nesmith will once again be a part of The Monkees' backing band when Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork perform in front of a sold-out audience at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California on September 16. The show is already more than noteworthy as it will apparently be Michael's final live performance with the group.
When his father returned to the stage in 2012 for a Monkees tour that year after the passing of Davy Jones, Christian joined the band, playing guitar beside Wayne Avers. His companion Circe Link was welcomed aboard for the 2014 Monkees Tour. Both Circe and Christian have their own music careers, often recording and performing together.
As a preview of the Pantages show, here's Christian, Circe, and Micky Dolenz performing stellar versions of both "Porpoise Song" and The Beatles' "Good Morning Good Morning" during a special 2015 online performance:
You can read all about Christian, Circe, and the rest of The Monkees' backing band in the Live Almanac's archives.
Micky Dolenz Live!
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart returns
50th Anniversary Editions