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Long Ryders at the Magic Bag, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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This has been a year Long Ryders fans have been waiting for.

During February, the influential Los Angeles group -- whose mix of psychedelic rock with country during the 80s was a precursor to what's now known as Americana -- released "Psychedelic Country Soul," its first new album in more than 30 years. It was the continuation of a reunion that began in earnest during 2017 and brings with it not only new music but also favorites from the group's three original albums, on which it's staked a reputation as one of those best bands you've never heard of.

It's a welcome return, and one that frontman Sid Griffin hopes will have legs moving forward...

Griffin, 63, says by phone that while the Long Ryders have "done a handful of reunion tours," the group members "were all bored playing the old songs. No Long Ryder lives near each other now, so this (album) gave us a framework to get together and do something. Everyone got to town in Los Angeles three or four days early and rehearsed with (producer) Ed Stasium" -- who's listed as "the fifth Long Ryder" in the album's credits." "We had eight days to make the record and we did it. I won't say it wasn't stressful, but we got a really good record done that I'm really proud of and really happy with."

The opportunity to record a new album was provided by Larry Chatam, a Long Ryders crew member during the 80s who'd gone on to work in a key capacity with Dr. Dre. "Larry kept telling me these last 20 years or so that he never forgot how kind the Long Ryders were to him and he'd pay us back one day," Griffin says. "I thought maybe he'd give us a thousand bucks or something one day. So he calls me and says, 'Later on this fall Dr. Dre has some studio time free and I'd like to gif it to you guys if you wanted to come in and make a record. I said, 'You're kidding me!' and he said, 'No.' I mean, it's a great, state of the art place, and we could use the big room there 'cause Dr. Dre mainly uses the smaller rooms. I just couldn't believe it." The album features backing vocals on two songs from Debbi and Vicky Person of onetime "Paisley Underground" scene mates the Bangles, including a cover of Tom Petty's "Walls."

Griffin -- who's working on the third in a trilogy of Bob Dylan books -- has put his bluegrass band the Coal Porters on hold for the moment in hopes that the Long Ryders will be more of a going concern. "When we were young we would drive on these American tours and be gone for two months in a van. Nobody can go back to those days because of family commitments and so on, but we're getting job offers in the United States, a bunch of them, festivals in Australia, So if there's money on the table, if it's a real thing, we want to do it. Is this a full-blown reunion? Not really, but if the reception for our record is really good we're going to have to devote our time to it and show people we're serious."

The Long Ryders perform Friday, Sept. 13, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors at 8 p.m. $20. 248-544-1991 or themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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