NittyGrittyDirtBandBannerThe Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been performing and performing well for a long time.

They formed over 50 years ago in Long Beach, CA. Although the musicians in the band have come and gone, singer/guitarist Jeff Hanna and drummer Jimmie Fadden have remained since the beginning and keyboardist/accordionist Bob Carpenter has been in the group for 45 years.

Saturday night at the City Winery, they were joined by Ross Holmes (mandolin and violin), Jim Photoglo (bass guitar), and Jeff Hanna (guitar). Jeff is the son of founding member Jeff Hanna and his father has reason to be proud of his talent. Individually, they were great, and together they were something special.

The Dirt Band has enjoyed success recording originals and cover songs over the years; and on this night, they mixed them well. Their latest album - "Dirt Does Dylan" - is a collection of covers by the great songwriter Bob Dylan and they played three selections from this record: "Girl from the North Country", "Forever Young", and "I Shall Be Released". But much of the evening, they focused on their earlier songs, from the upbeat "An American Dream" to Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles" - arguably their biggest hit. They have also been a source of material for other artists. Dirt won a songwriting Grammy for "Bless the Broken Road" after it was recorded by Rascal Flatts. Hanna joked that the original recording was bought only by friends and family and failed to achieve Platinum status, settling for "aluminum" status instead.

Other highlights of the evening were "Long Hard Road" - a song written by Rodney Crowell about his sharecropper father; two Hank Williams songs: "Jambalaya" and "Honky Tonkin'"; and "The Working Man" - an original song inspired by their performance at the original Farm Aid in Champaign, IL. Fadden wrote and sang the latter song. He impressed me by playing drums and harmonica simultaneously - something I have never seen before.

This band tends to drop names of famous people with whom they collaborated; but they have every right to, given the impressive array of talent with whom they worked over the past five decades.

The encore bought the sold-out audience to its feet and had many of them dancing in the aisle. They closed with stirring renditions of the traditional "Will the Circle be Unbroken" and the Band's "The Weight".

It was a night to remember and left many smiles.

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