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Niswonger gets down to the Nitty Gritty

October 4th, 2011 4:06 am by staff report

Niswonger gets down to the Nitty Gritty

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen) is touring in support of its most recent release, "Speed of Life." The guys will perform Oct. 11 at Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

 After more than four decades, the iconic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is still going strong.

   The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band formed as a jug band in Southern California during the spring of 1966. More than four decades later, the group is still going strong as a quartet featuring Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen.

   Founded by singer-guitarist Hanna and singer-songwriter Bruce Kunkel, the group landed a recording contract with Liberty Records and released their debut album, “The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,” in April 1967. They were five albums into their career before achieving mainstream success with the 1970 album “Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy.” The eclectic project included a breakout single, a cover of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” that has been added to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

   In the ‘70s, they moved from the West Coast to Nashville and made history with the first of three “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” albums, a series that featured Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis and other legends.

   There have been many turns in the road during the band’s 45-year career, and while some members have left and returned through the years, the key players haven’t changed all that much. In fact, their 2010 release “Speed of Life” features three members who worked together on the “Uncle Charlie” album — Hanna, multi-instrumentalist John McEuen and drummer-harmonica player Jimmie Fadden. The current lineup is filled out by keyboardist Bob Carpenter, who will forever be the “new guy” even though he’s been in the band for more than 30 years.

   The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will perform at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11, at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville.

   Earlier this year, more than two decades after its release, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s No. 1 single “Fishin’ in the Dark” was still setting records. The classic song was certified gold for digital sales of more than 500,000 copies.

   “‘Fishin’ in the Dark’ seems to have a life of its own and has certainly become a signature song for us over the years,” Hanna said. “We love that this song has become a summer anthem and continues to appeal to new audiences year after year.”

   The band has had success on the Top 40 as well as the country charts. Their version of “Mr. Bojangles” in 1970 reached the Top 10. In the 1970s, they had more success in the Top 20 with “American Dream” and “Make A Little Magic.” In the 1980s, success came on the country chart with three No. 1 hits — “Long Hard Road” (The Sharecropper’s Dream), “Modern Day Romance” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.”

   Tickets are $37.50 for adults, $32 for groups of 10 or more and $10 for students. For tickets or more information, call (423) 638-1679 or visit www.greenevil  .
Courtesy of Niswonger Performing Arts Center

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