The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band filled the auditorium at H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center with the sound of its iconic contry-folk-rock on Oct. 5.
The band’s four members provided a smooth, clear sound for the deeply appreciative all-age audience, proving that their sound was not the reason for their moniker.
The NGDB frequently encouraged the audience to clap and sing along as they played nearly two hours of music with its 17-song set. The band played tunes from its early days (the band was founded in 1965) up through recent albums which provided something for each segment of the audience.
Naturally, the band’s biggest hit, “Mr. Bojangles,” was in that mix, along with more recent hits like “Fishin’ in the Dark” and “Bless the Broken Road,” which was famously covered by Rascal Flatts.
The NGDB also covered songs by other artists, although the band made them their own.
A few of those songs provided some of the most humorous moments of the show when banjo player John McEuen performed the theme song from “The Beverly Hillbillies” and The Beatles’ “Get Back,” the latter added to their repertoire in direct response to John McEuen’s brother’s statement. “If the banjo was any good, The Beatles would have used it.”
Other covers that drew enthusiastic applause included “Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat, bayou standard “Jambalaya” and “Coconut Grove” by the Beach Boys.
The evening ended with a double encore. They performed “Will the Circle be Unbroken” from their 1973 triple album of the same name and finished the evening with “The Weight,” the often covered song by The Band.
NGDB’s lineup has been fairly stable throughout the years. The newest member, keyboard player and vocalist Bob Carpenter, joined the band in 1977. The rest of the band is comprised of founder Jeff Hanna on guitars and vocals, founder Jimmy Fadden on drums, harmonica and vocals and John McEuen, who replaced Jackson Browne in 1966, on fiddle, guitar, lap steel and banjo.
You can find out more about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on its webpage, www.nittygritty.com, and more about the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at www.luhrscenter.com.