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July 19, 2012
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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band back at the Avalon

Like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's music, its fan base spans decades.The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is kind of like the band version of Willie Nelson, said John McEuen, who plays banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin. Both Nelson and the "Dirt Band" continue to draw new fans curious to discover the artists who made famous songs they've listened to forever - songs like "Mr. Bojangles."The Dirt Band's rendition of "Mr. Bojangles" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010 as an important historical recording. Guitar player and vocalist Jeff Hanna learned the Jerry Jeff Walker song and taught it to the rest of the band. They recorded the song which became a huge hit in 1970."It's an American anthem, of a place lost in time," McEuen said. "Jeff still sings it in the same key." The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is often credited with starting the country rock and American roots music movement."We were finding our own niche," and leaving the labeling of "country rock" or "folk rock" to others, McEuen said.Over the past 46 years the Dirt Band has garnered multiple Grammy nominations and awards, and produced 21 country hit records and three that made it to the pop charts.Rolling Stone magazine called the Dirt Band's 1971 album "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" the "most important record to come out of Nashville." In 2003, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Farther Along" was released, earning album of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association."The next year (2004) the original was inducted into the Library of Congress as an important American recording," McEuen said.McEuen has a new album out, with his sons, Jonathan and Nathan, called "The McEuen Sessions - For All The Good""It's getting a lot of attention. It's the best recording I've done in 20 years," McEuen said. Produced by Mesa Bluemoon Recordings, the album has received five star reviews on Amazon.The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is featured in a new documentary about how American music helped bring down the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain. "Rockin' the Kremlin" will be released this summer. "The Dirt Band had a place in it," McEuen said. "We were the first American band to go to Russian. We played 28 sold-out shows as an American group."McEuen and Hanna, along with Jimmie Fadden on drums, harmonica and vocals have played music together since 1966. Bobby Carpenter, who plays keyboards, accordion and sings, joined the group in 1976. "We do music from every era, which is fun," McEuen said. The group is performing 95 shows in as many cities this year. They're looking forward to returning to Grand Junction for a Saturday performance at the Avalon Theatre, McEuen said. "The Avalon is always a nice place to play," he said.

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The Post Independent Updated Jul 23, 2012 10:51AM Published Jul 19, 2012 03:43PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.