The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band literally brought the music back to the Luhrs Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 9.
The band’s performance was the first show held at Luhrs since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020. Like many other theaters and music venues, Luhrs was forced to suspend operations during the pandemic.
The return of campus shows to Luhrs brought excitement to the community.
The reopening was highly anticipated, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band attracted a large crowd. Luhrs functioned at full capacity, but attendees were required to wear masks, and the staff wiped down surfaces even as people filed in.
Excitement filled the air of the performance area. Some attendees mentioned this was their first experience with live music again after more than a year of social distancing.
Diehard fans and newcomers who jumped at the chance to see a live performance filled the venue — Charles Patterson, Shippensburg University interim president included.
The band played a 90-minute show and performed a three-song encore featuring the fan-favorite “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
As the band took the stage, the musicians excellent chemistry was apparent. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been performing together for more than 50 years and their songs were well-loved by the attendees.
Jaime Hanna, the newest member and son of fellow bandmate Jeff Hanna, played seamlessly with the group. There was a remarkable sense of camaraderie on stage, and their performance displayed their love of music. Jeff Hanna expressed gratitude for the experience and for his opportunities as a stage musician. Hannah noted other big acts in the country music scene who had been an inspiration to him.
Taking their camaraderie to the crowd, the band invited the audience to sing along when they played “Mr. Bojangles.” The room knew the lyrics by heart since the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has fans committed to their music and memorable verse.
Each band member shared their own talent and lead a song or two they had personally written. Jimmie Fadden captivated the crowd with harmonica solos, and Jaime and Jeff Hanna dazzled them with father-son guitar duets. Between each piece, Jeff Hanna gave a small personal anecdote about the songs or shared a story about a bandmate.
The show was a unique and personalized experience for the audience.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performance showed that quality concerts can be held even when masking is required.
The Luhrs Center has more performances on the schedule for this year. “The Nutcracker” will be opening on Nov. 17.