CLASS ACT - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band brings their collection of hits to the Memorial Centre on Oct. 10th. photo submitted

CLASS ACT - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band brings their collection of hits to the Memorial Centre on Oct. 10th. photo submitted

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band bring their famous tunes to Red Deer

The band plays the Memorial Central Oct. 10th

Local fans of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will soon have a chance to enjoy the guys’ legendary hits plus a sampling of their extraordinary work produced over the past five decades.

They perform at the Memorial Centre Auditorium on Oct. 10th. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

So far, 2017 has been a huge year for the band which earlier this year announced the Canadian leg of their 50-year Anniversary Tour. “We are really proud and grateful and astounded that we’ve been able to do this for so long,” explained singer/guitarist/one of the band’s founders Jeff Hanna during a recent interview.

“The shock hasn’t worn off yet,” he added with a laugh. “We’re proud of the fact we’ve been doing this for 50 years, but again, we are grateful that we’ve gotten to do it that long.”

It’s been a fabulous season for the band, which, this past January, won a Midsouth Regional EMMY® for the PBS airing of a 2015 sold-out show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

And then in February, the band released a 21-track greatest hits album titled Fishin’ in the Dark (Rhino Records).

The release includes the band’s biggest hits on both country and pop radio (Mr. Bojangles, Dance Little Jean, Fishin’ in the Dark and more), along with many fan-favourites (Cadillac Ranch and Ripplin’ Waters).

Speaking of Fishin’ in the Dark, that tune has a lasting quality to it that is stunning – it sounds as fresh and slick today as it did when it first hit the airwaves some 30 years ago.

“I’ve got to say that Josh Leo, who produced that album (Hold On), did a great job – sonically it holds up to something that could have been released last week on the radio,” he explained.

“That was an interesting moment for us – sort a turning point as far the band went. The fan base kind of got younger,” he said, reflecting on the legacy of Fishin’ in the Dark. “Our fans that had been with us for 20 years up to that point liked it too, so it worked out well!”

He recalls how excited the guys were to release that particular tune – they knew they had something special on their hands.

“If we could have put out the demo, we would have,” he laughed. “One of the things about the material we choose to record over the years is that we’ve written 50 to 60 per cent of it – the songs that have been on the radio for example.

“Also, if we can fine a song that just feels like a great tune that just fits like a glove, you know. Well, Fishin’ was a great example of that. We could play the heck out of that song. Again, when Josh brought us the demo, we were like – that’s perfect! That’s the perfect Dirt Band song.”

Ultimately, it was the band’s third number-one single on the U.S. country music charts and the second in Canada.

Looking back to their earlier years, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band helped lead the charge mixing elements of country, bluegrass, folk, mountain music, and rock and roll into a sound that celebrated the full range of American music.

Released in 1972 – just six years after the group formed in Southern California – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken still stands as one of the most beloved albums in the country catalog, pairing the young band with legends like Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Mother Maybelle Carter.

Many decades have passed since that album’s release, with the members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band now enjoying their own legendary status.

Hanna also reflected on another defining tune that came along a few years later – Mr. Bojangles. “We did not think it was necessarily a hit song – we just thought it was a great song,” he said.

“To be honest, we thought it was a great album cut – a great piece of art.” Well, the song proved a major hit back in 1971.

“Our thing, when we are making records, or when we are doing our concerts, is that we want to present folks with a variety of emotions. If it touches you in some way, that’s equally great.”

As we know, music often reminds us of particular times in our lives.

“When people reference our music in that way, it’s really humbling because I know how I feel as a music fan, and how much music and various tunes have mattered in my life, whether it’s been to get me through some hard times or putting me in a great mood to celebrate. Music is a wonderful tonic.”

For ticket information, visit www.blackknightinn.ca.

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