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Playing Around: The David Nelson Band 

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It often seems that, between the cover bands, Celtic harpists and Delta bluesmen, there isn't very much room left in Colorado Springs for Deadheads, Phans and the like. Therefore, it's a very rare treat to have such a fine group as The David Nelson Band come to town.

Nelson could be considered one of the grandfathers of the jam-band genre, forming The Wildwood Boys with Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 1962. Hunter and Garcia went on to form the Grateful Dead three years later, and Nelson remained a close friend, playing guitar on Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. He formed the New Riders of the Purple Sage with Garcia and John Dawson in the early '70s, singing the lead vocal on the counterculture anthem "Panama Red." After leaving NRPS in 1983, Nelson played with The Good Ol' Boys bluegrass band whose roster also boasted Don Reno, Chubby Wise and Frank Wakefield, and then with the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band.

His current incarnation is The David Nelson Band, featuring pedal steel player Barry Sless (Kingfish), keyboardist Mookie Siegel (Ratdog) and bassist Bill Laymon (NRPS, Big Brother & The Holding Co., The Jerry Garcia Band). If there's anything these band members have picked up along the way, it's the art of building a well-crafted jam. From driving the audience along with rootsy bluegrass and two-steppin' Texas rock to lifting them up into thinly woven space improvisations, the DNB knows how to bring you along on their bizarre freeform trip. The songs are good, the vibes are great, and the performers are amazing -- one more reason to rip out the seats in the Music Hall and give folks room to dance.

The DNB play their set at 11 p.m. Saturday night, with kick-ass local Dead tribute band Shakedown Street opening with a set at 9. Tickets are only $8. Call 447-9797.

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