Michael Nesmith's First National Band is returning in early 2018 with a new lineup, performing a limited run of shows in California. And now, Meet & Greet opportunities have been announced through Videoranch. Check out the different options below.
Michael Nesmith previously announced that a revamped First National Band would return to the concert stage this January, and now three more shows have been added to the itinerary. Click each poster below for more information and to purchase tickets.
The Troubadour sold out in less than an hour. I am amazed and grateful thanks to all of you.
The Troub has 500 saleable seats and it was at the Troub that I was Hootmaster for the first year I was in LA. I hung out there while working around LA, and it was the place of a very important event in life.
I write about it in Infinite Tuesday.
I had struggled along as a singer/writer and was wondering if I had made the right choice for my life -- and consequently my wife, then pregnant with Christian.
I had returned from a weird trip playing high school assemblies across Texas -- to a crooked manager who stole my money -- so Phyllis was broke and starving and I was too. I went into a kind of meltdown, where everything I thought was up for grabs, and reconsideration. I was also physically sick, with what I will never know, so sick I couldn't get out of bed.
Slowly I pulled back together, and by the inspiration of Love, Phyllis for me and me for Phyllis, and a Life force beyond the veil, I lifted up enough to write, to think, and to pray.
When I was well enough I went down on a Monday night to the Hoot, met the new hootmaster, and secured a spot on that evening's roster.
I played four songs: Different Drum, Papa Jean's Blues, Nine Times Blue, and Propinquity. In IT I describe , in some detail that night, but the gist of it was to experience the elements of a live performance I had not known existed.
The audience gave me a rising approval throughout the set, each round of applause louder and more appreciative than the last, until by the end of that short set they were screaming for more -- but I had no more, so I bowed low and walked off stage grateful -- and as a changed man.
That show made me sure I was on the right path toward a distant light, gave me and Phyllis hope, led me to the events that followed, and has since guided me in the arts.
Those 500 people in those 500 seats, on that night, opened a door for me.
500 seats does not seem like a lot in the scheme of stadium rock, but as a friend said to me yesterday, the same who gave me the news of the rapid sell-out, those are a special 500 seats, the "right 500" seats.
I can't wait to see you there and play those four songs one more time and to thank you yet again for what has been given to me.
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.
Dolenz & Nesmith to join forces on concert stage in 2018; Nez to revive music of First National Band (UPDATED)
This past weekend, Michael Nesmith signed autographs and posed for pictures at the Chiller Theatre convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. Fans, including Scott Catton, who relayed details about his conversation with Nez at the event to the Live Almanac yesterday, have been reporting that Michael was informing everyone of his touring plans for 2018, which include spotlighting the music of the First National Band and pairing up with his fellow Monkee, Micky Dolenz. Jodi Ritzen, event coordinator for both Nesmith and Dolenz, confirmed the buzz on Facebook:
The First National Band was Michael'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, but Nesmith has discussed in recent interviews the idea of reviving the music of the FNB, noting that he was encouraging his son, Christian, to put together a band for such a project.
Both Dolenz and Nesmith have performed for fans in recent weeks with Nez joining Micky at two of his solo shows in California. The duo has taken the stage together only two other times as an act, in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, during The Monkees' 50th Anniversary tour when Michael subbed for Peter Tork. Nesmith has discussed touring with Dolenz as far back as the 1990s.
Stay tuned to the Live Almanac for more details as they become available. Since these events are seemingly in the earliest of planning stages, no official announcements have been made and details about dates and venues for both projects are not available at this time.
A big thanks to Brian Marchese (host of the "Where's That Sound Coming From?" podcast) for scanning this candid interview with Michael Nesmith from the January 1974 issue of ZigZag, a long-defunct British rock music publication.
Michael later performed at the Amazing ZigZag Concert that was held at The Roundhouse in London on April 28, 1974 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the magazine. The entire show, including Michael's performance with Red Rhodes, was released as part of a box set in 2010.
Magnetic South was the first solo album released by Michael Nesmith after his departure from The Monkees. Arriving in June 1970, the LP featured The First National Band: Red Rhodes (pedal steel), John Ware (drums), and John London (bass). It was the first in a trilogy of albums by the group, containing brand new material along with many songs that were recorded during the Monkees era but ultimately passed over for release on Monkees albums. Tracks like "Calico Girlfriend," "Nine Times Blue," "Little Red Rider," and "Hollywood" were re-recorded and reinterpreted during sessions for Magnetic South.
The first single, "Little Red Rider," failed to chart, but "Joanne" became a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite this success, Magnetic South would only reach #143 on the Billboard Top LPs chart.
Loose Salute followed in late 1970, and the trilogy was completed with Nevada Fighter in 1971.
Note the dedications made by Nez on the back cover: to his fellow Monkees, Lester Sill, Bert Schneider, Jack Nicholson, and Mimi. The "Tomorrow Man" is thought to be a sly reference to Don Kirshner, who was producing a group named Toomorrow at the time (which featured Olivia Newton-John as one of its members).
Last year, Monkees fans voted Magnetic South as their favorite Nesmith solo album.
As always, thanks a lot to Ben Belmares for providing the front and back cover images, along with the labels, that are seen above!
In this interview with Steve Earle, Michael talks about The Monkees' new album, Good Times!, The First National Band, Red Rhodes, and much, much more. And if you are a SiriusXM subscriber, the conversation with Nez is available on demand.
UPDATE June 8: Listen to the audio of the interview below, which was recently shared on Facebook by a Monkees fan:
Check out this photo that Michael recently shared on Facebook...anybody know when and where this was taken???
On November 28, 1970, Michael Nesmith and The First National Band performed at the WVOK Shower of Stars at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.
Spec, published by 16 Magazine, covered the show in their August 1971 issue:
Here's a promotional handbill for the event:
Micky, Davy, and Michael performed Michael's song "Nine Times Blue" live during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show in the summer of 1969.
Several different attempts were made recording the song, and each of them remained in the vault until years later. There's a version featuring Davy Jones singing the lead vocal (accompanied by Michael on acoustic guitar), recorded during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in early 1968:
Michael also tackled the song around the same time. Both of these attempts remained unreleased until the 2010 Rhino Handmade deluxe box set of the Birds album.
In the summer of 1968, Nez released his first solo album The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, an all-orchestral affair that included an instrumental take on "Nine Times Blue."
Nez actually demoed "Nine Times Blue" while recording Headquarters in early 1967:
Michael revisited the song once again in April 1968, accompanied by Red Rhodes on pedal steel and Chip Douglas on bass. It was this version that first saw the light of day on the 1987 compilation Missing Links:
Michael recorded "Nine Times Blue" once more in 1970, and it was featured on his initial solo album with The First National Band, Magnetic South.
A friend of Mike's in the pre-Monkees era, John London later accompanied Mike to Los Angeles to try their hand at the music scene there. London later became Mike's stand-in on the television series and would occasionally play bass guitar on Monkees recordings. He also co-wrote "Don't Call on Me" with Nez, which appeared on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. After The Monkees, Mike asked John to join him in the First National Band.