The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band takes the stage at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre on March 6.
CLEARWATER – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – the band that scored a 1970 hit with their cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's “Mr. Bojangles” – will make a stop in the Tampa Bay area, performing Thursday, March 6, 8 p.m., at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St.
The iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is considered one of the main catalysts for an entire movement in country rock and American roots music. The band boasts a solid string of multi-platinum and gold records as well as Top 10 hits such as “Fishin’
In The Dark” and “Mr. Bojangles.” Over the years, the band has racked up multiple Grammy, IBMA, CMA awards and nominations.
The band traces its history back to Long Beach, Calif. Founded in 1966, NGDB came together when singer-guitarist Jeff Hanna and singer-songwriter guitarist Bruce Kunkel took part in informal jam sessions seeking like-minded musicians to form a group. Among those they came into contact with during the sessions were guitarist/washtub bassist Ralph Barr, guitarist-clarinetist Les Thompson, harmonicist and jug player Jimmie Fadden and guitarist-vocalist Jackson Browne. Browne joined, but remained only a few months before exiting to focus on a solo career.
The band evolved from a novelty jug band into a leader of the California folk rock scene. Liberty Records signed the band and in 1967 released its debut album, “The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band” which included the Top 40 hit “Buy for Me the Rain.” NGDB followed with “Ricochet” (1967) and “Rare Junk” (1968), as well as the live album “Alive” (1969), all of which failed to achieve commercial success. On stage, however, the band continued to attract fans, opening for acts such as Jack Benny, Bill Cosby and The Doors. In 1969, the band appeared in the musical western “Paint Your Wagon,” performing “Hand Me Down That Can o’ Beans.”
By 1970, the band was pioneering the country rock sound. The album “Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy” featured the band’s best known single, “Mr. Bojangles.”
On their next album, the band teamed up with country-western icons such as Roy Acuff, Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis and Jimmy Martin. “Will the Circle be Unbroken” was released as a three-record set in 1972. It included the singles “I Saw the Light,” “Honky Tonkin’” and “Grand Ole Opry Song.”
By this time, the band had undergone a number of personnel changes. In fact, Hanna and Fadden are the only two members to have stuck with the band through its many incarnations. For a short time, the band recorded and performed as The Dirt Band, but in 1982 members reclaimed the full name.
During the 1980s, NGDB scored a string of hits on the U.S. country charts, beginning with “Dance Little Jean” in 1983 and continuing with “Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream),” “I Love Only You,” “High Horse,” “Modern Day Romance,” “Home Again in My Heart,” “Stand a Little Rain,” “Fishin’ in the Dark” and “I’ve Been Lookin.’”
Now nearing their fifth decade together, NGDB continues to add to their legendary status.
Their groundbreaking "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" album has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame. NGDB’s recording of “Mr. Bojangles” was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.
Today, NGDB features Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen. The group’s most recent studio release was the critically acclaimed 2009 album "Speed of Life." In 2013, Capitol/EMI reissued in its original form on vinyl “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” for its 40th anniversary.