The Englishtown Project and a Life more Perfect than that Night. An Interview with Michael Falzarano.
Michael Falzarano has lived a charmed life by anyone’s account by simply following his heart. He’s currently a member of New Riders of the Purple Sage and has performed with artists ranging from Bob Weir to John Lee Hooker and all in between. Growing up as a east coast child, he was enthralled with all the music exploding on the other side of the country. The psychedelic bands of California. The young musician could have never imagined that destiny would deliver him to his musical mecca as an equal. A tale so perfect even Hollywood would not dare to tell. The dream realized started simply enough when he chased after his girlfriend when she moved to California. Obviously, his instincts were correct. They have been married 40 years. That reason alone would fulfill my idea of a perfect life. While Dave Nelson is on the mend, he decided to make music fans dreams realities and deliver the historic 1977 Englishtown concert to the masses. It’s currently heading to a city near you. Confused? Fortunately, Michael Falzarano sat down with Grateful Music for an interview about his Englishtown project and what transpired was a tale he could not have dreamed of one afternoon long ago.
K.L. Hey Michael, thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
M.F. My Pleasure guys.
K.L. Let’s start with you’re current project that is all the buzz and we will work our way back in time.
M.F. Since the New Riders of the Purple Sage have been on hiatus because Dave Nelson and Buddy Cage got sick at the same time and currently on the mend. I had the free time to get to this project I been mulling over in my head for a few years and that was to celebrate the concert Englishtown. I essentially got the idea because anywhere The New Riders performed over the last 15 years fans always would approach me and say I saw y’all at Englishtown. Or Englishtown was my first Dead show.
K.L. That was before my time but Ron did you go to Englishtown?
R.A. Actually, (laughing) I was there and I had so much fun that my 15 year old brother had to drive home.
K.L (Laughing) Same as it ever was
M.F. (Laughing) I bet that is a story in itself.
K.L. We can figure out the gist of it, sounds like it was a wild rodeo. I am sorry Michael you were talking about how special Englishtown was to the fans.
M.F. Basically over the last few years I had this idea for a project to honor Englishtown. I thought it would be cool to combine the music from all three bands that performed the show. The Grateful Dead headlined and of course The New Riders of the Purple Sage and The Marshall Tucker Band opened. I ran it past Rob Wilson a guitar player I always play with and he agreed. So I called Peter Shapiro who owns The Brooklyn Bowl, The Capital and Garcia’s and he loved the idea and booked the show at The Brooklyn Bowl.
K.L. What other musicians did you invite to join Rob and yourself?
M.F. Well, I called my good friends from Zen Tricksters and ran the idea by them and they loved it. So Cliff Black , Dave Diamond and Joe Chirco Joined us and The Englishtown Project was born.
K.L. How was the first show?
M.F. I only intended it to be one show but we were having so much fun we booked a warm up gig at Garcia’s inside The Capitol. Low and behold the place was packed and it was a success on many levels. Then Memorial Day weekend arrives. It was absolutely pouring rain and despite the obstacles we got a tremendous turnout at the Brooklyn Bowl. Englishtown Project was born. We spent the last year touring the country and have shows booked through summer.
K.L. How does the Set list get assembled?
M.F. First we would just played one band’s music in the first set. But folks who showed up late would miss the New Riders songs, so it’s evolved where we mix all three bands songs from that performance and turn them into a set.
K.L I bet The Marshall Tucker Band’s songs get a great reaction.
M.F. Kevin you’re exactly right! I was surprised at first how strong the crowds reacted to his tunes.
K.L. The Englishtown Project sounds amazing.
R.A. What was your luckiest thing that happened to you during your career as a professional musician?
M.F. Hmmmm. I guess when I chased my then girlfriend and now my wife of 40 years to California. She was working cutting hair. I walked into her work one day and Mickey Hart was getting a haircut. All the musician’s I grew up loving were getting haircuts there.
K.L. That’s a Destiny or Karma story if I ever heard one. I guess your path was waiting to meet you.
M.F. Yea, In hindsight I have everything I ever could of dreamed of..
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