The Band rarely played live, especially considering the live concert explosion during the early 1970s. Between 1969 and 1972 they only played 40 shows and often at odd intervals without any semblance of a real tour. Of those 40 shows, 6 were at colleges, half of those on Long Island! (Stony Brook, May 3, 1969; Suffolk Community College, December 2, 1969; CW Post, November 6, 1970). The lack of touring probably added to their mystique.
Rolling Stone lavished praise on the Band in this era, giving them more attention than perhaps any other group in the magazine's history. The Band was also featured on the cover of Time (January 12, 1970), the first rock group after the Beatles, over two years earlier, to achieve this rare distinction. These shows were just 2 weeks after being on the cover of Time!
Laura Nyro was an acclaimed singer/songwriter. Between 1968 and 1970, a number of artists had hits with her songs including The 5th Dimension with "Wedding Bell Blues", and "Stoned Soul Picnic"; Blood, Sweat & Tears with "And When I Die"; and Three Dog Night with "Eli's Comin'”
In 1968, Columbia released Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, her second album, which received high critical praise for the depth and sophistication of its performance and arrangements, which merged pop structure with inspired imagery, rich vocals, and avant-garde jazz; it is widely considered one of her best works. It was followed in 1969 by New York Tendaberry, another highly acclaimed work that cemented Nyro's artistic credibility. During the weekend after Thanksgiving in November 1969, she gave two concerts at Carnegie Hall. It’s fair to say that for these concerts with The Band, Nyro was “at the height of her powers.”