Nitty Gritty Dirt Band History with Jeff Hanna

It’s nearing the end of an hour-long conversation when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna announces that he’s due for a shower before sound check. What’s intended to be a conversation about the group’s Circlin’ Back: Celebrating 50 Years CD/DVD package becomes a long trip through the outfit’s rich and sometimes tumultuous history.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band continue to rock bluegrass tunes

You could look at the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 50-year endurance run as a sort of tutorial illustrating the last half century in roots and country music. The group started in the late ’60s as hippies playing jug band music in the California sun (playing washboards and other primitive instruments), stumbled into a Top 10 pop hit with “Mr. Bojangles” in 1970, and a few years later, recorded “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” one of the foundational documents of what we now call Americana music.

For the love of country

“I had a date with a set of twins the other night,” McEuen slyly tells the soundstage of cast, crew and roaming photographers. “Did you have fun? Well, yes and no.” On that note, McEuen and his collaborator Matt Cartsonis, backed by the Blistered Keisters house band, launch into the late Warren Zevon’s countrified swansong “Dirty Life and Times.” Gets a little lonely, folks, you know what I mean. I’m looking for a woman with low self-esteem, To lay me out and ease my worried mind, While I’m winding

Grand Theatre welcomes Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Grand Theatre welcomes the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to its stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10. Tickets are $60, $50 and $40. While the show is sold out, a few tickets may be returned for resale. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band last year celebrated its 50th anniversary as a working band. Its infectious blend of rock and country has charmed audiences for decades, and the group has been a strong influence for generations of performers.


On a sweltering September Sunday, Ojai was the site of a rare and wonderful performance. No one advertised it, and the occasion was kept deliberately hush-hush. But the lucky few who showed up at Topa Mountain Winery on Sept. 18 enjoyed an afternoon of fantastic bluegrass music, from a family with a rich legacy. John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took the stage with sons Jonathan and Nathan for an unforgettable afternoon of music and storytelling.

John McEuen, co-founder of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, to perform at United Center

Nov. 3 will be a homecoming of sorts for John McEuen. The California native, who is perhaps best known as a co-founder of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966, lived in Clear Creek for 20 years. “It’s nice,” McEuen said in an interview, noting that Idaho Spring is close to skiing and not too far from the Denver airport. “There are nice people; it was a growing little town.” He left in 1990 after raising six children here.

Flashback: See John Denver, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Sing 'Country Roads'

In 1971, two acts that would enjoy tremendous success in the worlds of pop and country music both had their breakout hits. Folk singer and songwriter John Denver, whose "Leaving on a Jet Plane" had been a Number One for Peter, Paul & Mary two years earlier, scored his first solo chart entry with "Take Me Home, Country Roads," a love letter to the state of West Virginia, originally penned by then-married couple Bill and Taffy Danoff. The duo initially hoped Johnny Cash would cut the tune, but once Denver hea