Many veteran bands trade on nostalgia, on replication of past glories, and on recycled emotions from younger, more carefree days, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band trades on a mix of reimagined classics and compelling newer works– and they are headed to the tent perform “The Hits, The History & Dirt Does Dylan” on Sunday, August 6.
The group 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 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 masterpiece: Will the Circle Be Unbroken went triple Platinum, spawned two later volumes, and wound up in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
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.
A Dirt Band show is unlike any other. For legions of fans, it’s less about the memories than the moment, crisp as an Autumn apple and rich as a royal flush.