CLEARWATER — Three-time Grammy Award winners Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will perform Friday, Nov. 4, 8 p.m., at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater.
Tickets start at $49. Visit www.rutheckerdhall.com or call 727-791-7400.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band formed in 1966 as a Long Beach, California, jug band, scored its first charting single in 1967, and embarked on a self-propelled ride through folk, country, rock ‘n’ roll, pop, bluegrass, and the amalgam now known as Americana.
The first band’s major hit came in 1971 with the epic “Mr. Bojangles,” which, along with insistent support from banjo master Earl Scruggs, opened doors in Nashville. Behind those doors were Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Mother Maybelle Carter, Jimmy Martin, and others who would collaborate on a multi-artist, multi-generational, three-disc 1972 classic: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” went triple platinum, spawned two later volumes, and wound up in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In the 1980s, the Dirt Band reeled off 15 straight Top 10 country hits, including chart-toppers “Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream),” “Modern Day Romance,” and “Fishin’ in the Dark,” co-written by Jim Photoglo, who would join the band in the second decade of the new century. In 1989, a second “Circle” album — this one featuring singer-songwriter talents including John Prine, Rosanne Cash, and John Hiatt — garnered two Grammy awards for the band. “Circle II” also won the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year prize. “Circle III” was released in 2003, featuring collaborations with Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, and more.
Throughout the group’s lifetime, its personnel has changed, with each change resulting in positive steps forward, new ways of playing the old songs, and renewed enthusiasm for writing and recording fresh material. The latest Dirt Band lineup is expanded to six members for the first time since 1968.
Today’s group consists of founding member Jeff Hanna; harp master Jimmie Fadden, who joined in 1966; and soulful-voiced Bob Carpenter, who has more than 40 years of service in the ensemble. Those veterans are now joined by singer-songwriter-bass man Jim Photoglo, fiddle and mandolin wizard Ross Holmes, and Hanna’s son, the preternaturally talented singer and guitarist Jaime Hanna.
Blood harmony, thrilling instrumental flights, undeniable stage chemistry: These things are part of each Dirt Band show, just as they are part of “Dirt Does Dylan,” the first recording from the reconfigured, six-strong group.
Produced by Ray Kennedy and Jeff Hanna, it’s a remarkable ride through some of the most impactful songs of the past century, penned by Bob Dylan and taken for a blue highway spin by a great American band, with help from genius-level contemporary artists like Jason Isbell and The War and Treaty.