Nitty Gritty Dirt Band celebrates anniversary, new album in Lancaster

The Band is on the road supporting their upcoming release, Dirt Does Dylan

Nitty Gritty turned “Fitty”-Six today, (Fri, May 13th), a fact mentioned by founder and lead singer Jeff Hanna while on stage at American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA.

Taking the stage at exactly 7:30 pm in beautiful Amish Country, the band played 23 songs in a set lasting an even two hours. Each era of their music was represented, including their newest offering, Dirt Does Dylan, which is out May 20th. They opened with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

Throughout the night, the Dirt Band also also paid tribute to John Prine, Del McCoury, and of course the late-great Jerry Jeff Walker with their signature take on his “Mr. Bojangles.” The band also displayed their oft-understated influence on mainstream country music by performing “Bless the Broken Road.” The song, taken to the top of the charts by the former Rascal Flatts, was co-written by lead singer Hanna.

It was also quite clear throughout the night that the Dirt Band is a family affair, both literally and figuratively. Jeff Hanna’s son Jamie plays lead guitar, and offered a strong vocal performance on the Bob Dylan number “The Girl in North Country.”

Founding member Jimmie Fadden composed “The Workin’ Man (Nowhere to Go)” and sang on a Hank Williams cover, “Honky Tonkin.’” Bassist Jim Photoglo is responsible for the group’s No. 1 hit, “Fishin’ in the Dark.” He also played harmonica while also drumming on several numbers. A rare feat of dexterity and combination that seems inimitable.

The band went out of its collective way to highlight the individual contributions of each member. Bob Carpenter played piano and accordion, and sang beautifully on “I Shall Be Released,” another Dylan cover. Fiddler Ross Holmes brought a manic energy to the stage with a wild “Orange Blossom Special” on the fiddle. It’s no wonder: he toured with English bluegrass-rock group Mumford and Sons.

But the Dirt Band got to the Nitty-Gritty of it all when they came together. An eight minute jam session, added on to “Rippling Waters,” created the feel of a babbling creek. Each instrument and its player took part in creating a glistening image with sound.

Of course, that’s why the name “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band” has worked so well for exactly 56 years. The music created under the banner fit synonyms pretty well: it is earthy, roosty music. Their unique combination of instruments create the wistful music of an America we all long for.

Oh, and The Music Universe will welcome Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder Jeff Hanna on May 20th to discuss their new album, Dirt Does Dylan. Make sure you are subscribed to our podcast wherever you listen to yours!

Set List:

1. You Ain’t Going Nowhere
2. Cosmic Cowboy
3. The Long Hard Road
4. Buy For Me the Rain
5. Girl From the North Country
6. Country Pie
7. Forever Young
8. Grandpa Was a Carpenter
9. Take Me in Your Life Boat
10. Honky Tonkin’
11. The Workin Man (Nowhere to Go)
12. Bojangles
13. Ripplin Waters
14. God Bless The Broken Road
15. Jimmy Harmonica Solo
16. Fishin’ in the Dark
17. Voila an American Dream
18. Bayou Jubilee
19. OBS
20. Jambalaya


21. I Shall Be Released
22. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
23. The Weight (with Circle Coda)

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.


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