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Event Archive - Award Winning Country Band from Colorado: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Clover Point Drifters

Sun. October 22nd 2006 McPherson Playhouse (All Ages)
8pm - 11pm doors at 7:30pm
$50.50 Main/Balcony
McPherson Playhouse
#3 Centennial Square, Victoria BC
Doors 7pm - Showtime 8pm
All Tickets: $50.50 Main Level & Balcony + service charge
Available at: McPherson Box Office 250-386-6121 or Toll-free line 1-888-717-6121

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's website is:
More info can be found at: or email us at

In 1969, the members of the three year-old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band almost packed it
in for good, unsure of where the young group was heading next in its career or
with its hybrid sound. Thirty-seven years later the remaining foursome –
weathered, well-traveled, arguably wiser -- is enjoying its 40th Anniversary. The
individual band-mates would probably admit they still don’t know where they’re
heading next, only that wherever it is, they’ll be going there together.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s pioneering spirit, its eagerness to experiment and
desire to explore the by-ways and gravel roads of America’s musical past, has
exerted a profound effect on our present-day pop culture. They defied the
conventional hit-driven approach to record-making by undertaking the
ambitious three-LP set Will The Circle Be Unbroken, cut live to two-track in
Nashville over six days, for the sum of just $22,000Thanks to the band’s
unfettered creative energy and the palpable excitement of playing with their
country and bluegrass music idols, the 1972 album became a landmark,
genresmashing hit. Circle remains such a significant effort that it was one of 50
recordings honored this year – and to be preserved -- by the Library of
Congress. The faces and names of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band may not always be
immediately recognizable to the general public – vocalist/guitarist Jeff Hanna,
drummer/harmonica player Jimmie Fadden, banjo/fiddle/mandolin/guitar player
John McEuen, vocalist/keyboardist Bob Carpenter – but fellow musicians young
and old know exactly who they are. It would be no exaggeration to say that
much of what falls under the umbrella term of roots music these days bears the
mark in some way of NGDB’s influence, from folk-rock to alternative country,
contemporary bluegrass to neo-hippie jam bands.

Young heartthrobs Rascal Flatts scored a Best Country Song Grammy this year
for “Bless the Broken Road,” co-written by NGDB guitarist Jeff Hanna and
originally featured on NGDB’s 1994 Acoustic album. (The tune had also been
nominated for the Song of the Year Award.) Fadden’s “Workin’ Man (Nowhere To
Go)” was covered by up-and-coming bluegrass stars Cherryholmes on their self-
titled, 2006 Grammynominated album. NGDB’s own work is featured on the
soundtrack to the 2006 Oscarworthy film Transamerica. The band, regularly
nominated over the years as songwriters and artists, were awarded its most
recent Grammy in 2004, Best Country Instrumental, for “Earl’s Breakdown,” a
track that featured the titular Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs, Vassar Clements
and Jerry Douglas. Most importantly, NGDB, in classic road-warrior tradition, still
tours several months a year.

“We’re been fortunate that no matter what happened with our recordings, we
always had people who wanted to come and see us play,” says Carpenter. “And
that’s the thing that really kept us together. I know it may sound trite, but we
really have our fans to thank for that. We’ve got a loyal fan base that comes out
to see us make music.” “We’ve kept it alive, kept it a growing thing,” McEuen
explains. “With the Dirt Band, you think of a certain integrity in the songs, not a
single focus. What has connected our various work is the ‘Americana’
instrumentation and playing songs that are accessible to people. Our songs
aren’t just about one thing and neither are people’s lives.” The Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band formed in Southern California during the spring of ’66. The young Hanna,
Fadden and McEuen hung out at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Long Beach; this
maverick group distinguished itself from its peers by wearing cowboy boots
with vintage pinstripe suits and playing jug-band music, a danceable variation
on country blues that originally depended on homemade instrumentation like
washboards, kazoos and, of course, jugs.

“It wasn’t a part of what my friends were listening to,” recalls Fadden. “It wasn’t
so easy to get. You couldn’t just turn on the radio and have it. I liked that sort of
‘outsider’ thing. What really captured me was the honesty of the music, that it
was uncompromising and relatively unadorned. There weren’t a lot of smoke
and mirrors. I think that’s what really got me. It was raw.”

NGDB’s self-titled debut was released in 1967 on Liberty and included “Buy For
Me The Rain,” which cracked the Top 40. That was quickly followed by
Richochet and, in 1968, Rare Junk. NGDB’s next studio album, 1970’s Uncle
Charlie and His Dog Teddy, would be the band’s breakthrough, yielding a Top
Ten hit with its now-classic version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.” By
then, Jimmy Ibbotson had joined the band and would be part of NGDB off and
on for the next three and a half decades, penning such band staples as “Ripplin’
Waters” and “Dance Little Jean.”

For Uncle Charlie, NGDB’s manager, John’s brother Bill McEuen, had demanded
complete artistic control from the record label and took over production. He
incorporated rustic audio-verite segments into Uncle Charlie that helped to
coalesce the material intomore of an album-length statement, foreshadowing the
work to come on Will The Circle Be Unbroken. Among the many outstanding
tracks on Uncle Charlie was a version of Earl Scruggs’ “Randy Lynn Rag.”
When NGDB performed at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Scruggs and his
family came to the show. Hanna and John McEuen later caught up with him on
the road. McEuen asked Scruggs if he’d consider recording with band, Scruggs
answered, “I’d be proud to” – and that set into motion what would become the
Circle album.

The collaboration on Circle among Nashville legends like Scruggs, Doc Watson,
Roy Acuff and even Mother Maybelle Carter and these long-haired admirers from
the West Coast was unprecedented. No one had attempted a dialogue of quite
this nature, reaching across generations, geography, attitudes and separate
histories to find sounds and songs that everyone appreciated. Will the Circle Be
Unbroken was a veritable summit meeting of talent, but it came off like a back
porch conversation -- relaxed, congenial, with lots of laughs and plenty of
poignant moments. Circle was an extraordinary gesture of unity that would
become a multi-platinum success.

NGDB’s 1974 double-album mix of live and studio cuts, Stars and Stripes
Forever, received an even more enthusiastic commercial reception than Circle;
the group followed it with the all-studio Dream. After having sat in and recorded
with the group since the mid-‘70s, Bob Carpenter officially joined the Dirt Band,
which had briefly dropped the “Nitty Gritty” from its name, in 1980; McEuen likes
to refer to him as “the new original member.” Carpenter co-wrote “Make A Little
Magic” with Hanna, a 1980 pop hit featuring vocalist Nicolette Larson. Similarly,
Linda Ronstadt guest starred with the band on the lilting soft rock of Rodney
Crowell’s “An American Dream.” The mellow, gently heartfelt approach of those
songs, akin to the country/rock balance of “Peaceful Easy Feeling”-era Eagles,
was indicative of the work that would put the Dirt Band at the top of the county
charts for a decade. Its remarkable run of 17 consecutive Top Ten hits included
“Dance Little Jean,” “Baby’s Got A Hold On Me” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.”
Throughout this productive period, there were more comings and goings:
Ibbotson, who left in the late seventies, returned in ’81 and stayed until 2004;
McEuen departed in ’88 for a solo career and came back in 2001.

In 1989, the group -- consisting of Fadden, Hanna, Carpenter and Ibbotson --
revisited the Circle concept, gathering another impressive, wide-ranging roster
of performers and selecting both vintage and contemporary material for
sessions that had a pronounced country-gospel feel. Randy Scruggs, namesake
of the “Randy Lynn Rag,” co-produced the set with the band. Circle II would go
on to win three Grammy Awards and the Country Music Association Album of
the Year. Randy would return in 2002 for a bluegrass-oriented set that would be
the final installment of what became a Circle trilogy. NGDB’s most recent studio
album, Welcome to Woody Creek, brought the group back to its roots. The band-
mates approached their material as if it were a Circle session, with the emphasis
on interaction, informality, spontaneity and maximum feeling, and it shows on
every one of the self-produced album’s spirited tracks.

“I love playing in the band,” states Hanna. “We’ve traveled so many miles
together, spent so much time together, it’s become intuitive. We can pull out a
song that feels new to us even if it’s something we recorded 20 or 30 years ago.
We’re constantly learning. We surprise each other, with a new tune or a lick or
some kind of groove that’s fresh for us.” McEuen adds, “It’s the various
strengths of the individual members, called upon at different times and brought
to the forefront, that have kept the band creative and productive and brought the
most success to the band.”

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has enabled us to view our shared musical heritage in a
new light and taken its uniquely American perspective around the globe. The
group has proven that collaboration, cooperation, tolerance and good humor –
along with a healthy disagreement every now and then -- can keep a group of
people working together, having fun, and creating vital music for a lifetime


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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

THE BAND In 1969, the members of the three year-old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band almost packed it in for good, unsure of where the young group was heading next in its career or with its hybrid sound. Thirty-seven years later the remaining foursome – weathered, well-traveled, arguably wiser -- is enjoying its 40th Anniversary. The individual ba... more info

Clover Point Drifters (Bluegrass)

Bluegrass band from Victoria, BC, Canada. Their repertoire consists primarily of traditional bluegrass songs, with a sprinkling of country, folk blues and pop tunes served up in bluegrass style. Their songs feature close heartfelt duet and trio harmonies, backed by strong banjo, mandolin and dobro instrumentals. more info
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