Monday, October 31, 2016

Fifty Years of Music – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

First of all, I will admit that I’ve never been a concert goer…in the modern sense of the word.  I want to stay seated most of the time and I actually want to hear the music rather than the people singing along all around me.  Whereas Laurie actually went to a Beatles concert & a few others when she was young, I didn’t attend any similar events.

However when I learned that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was scheduled to perform at the Clayton Center in Maryville Tennessee, I jumped all over the opportunity to see them in action.

The Clayton Center at Maryville College is a great venue for entertainment.  It’s a beautiful building and we’ve attended several performances by a variety of entertainers during our 7 plus years of living her in East Tennessee.  Last year we even attended The Nutcracker Ballet by the Appalachian Ballet Company.

This is a view of the main stage at the Clayton Center.  It’s hard to get a really bad seat in this theatre and for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s performance our seats were perfect!  We were in the second row in the center section, in the 3rd and 4th seats from the aisle. (FYI, the cost per ticket was $50.00) If I can’t get great seats for a performance, I usually skip the show…

This is the front cover of the fall 2016 Brochure for the Clayton Center for the Arts.  The current members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are pictured in the lower left.  From the left they are: Bob Carpenter, Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and John McEuen.

Other featured shows illustrated on the cover are: The Havana Cuba All-Stars; the musical “Once” and; The Hot Sardines, a jazz group.  Upcoming shows the first part of 2017 include: “Cheers Live on Stage”; Koresh Dance; The Five Irish Tenors; “Last of the Red Hot Lovers”; The Flying Karamazov Brothers…and more.  

To learn about Maryville College’s first class Clayton Center for the Arts and upcoming concerts and shows, go to

I borrowed this early photo of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band from the Internet. This American country-folk-rock band has continued to perform with a mix of different members since it was founded in Long Beach California back in 1966.

Constant members of the band since the early days are singer-guitarist Jeff Hanna and drummer Jimmie Fadden.  Multi-instrumentalist John McEuen, (He plays just about anything with strings!), was with the band from 1966 to 1986 and then he returned in 2001.  Keyboardist Bob Carpenter was a real ‘latecomer’ joining the band in 1977.

Laurie took this photo of the stage just before the band came out.  No photos were allowed during the performance.  Much credit is due to that guy who was prepping for the band.  He was on the run with instruments and equipment throughout the show. 

Over the years the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band produced 25 Studio Albums, 1 Live Album, 4 Compilation Albums, 41 Singles and 3 #1 Singles.  To view the band’s discography, you can go to

The first photo shows the audience in the theatre about 25 minutes before the performance.  The second picture demonstrates just how popular the band is after all of these years!  We had a full house by the time the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took the stage… Keen observers may note that most of the audience is of a ‘certain age’, much like the band members.  John McEuen was actually celebrating his 70th birthday…

Another crowd photo… This is the theatre lobby following the performance.

…and the crowd went wild!  The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave a great performance.  After all of these years on stage, they really do know how to put on a show!  The crowd went wild when the band performed an energetic version of “Rocky Top”.  After all, this is University of Tennessee Vols country and that’s their song!  When the band came back for an encore, the crowd was actually on its feet…and there were even some hands waving in the air!   

There was a booth or souvenir table set up in the lobby of the theatre.  We skipped the t-shirts and picked up this copy of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Greatest Hits. ($20.00)

The band is on the Big Screen in the documentary “Free to Rock”.  That movie is about how American music brought down the Iron Curtain.  The NGDB was the first American band to tour the USSR.  After 28 sold out performances in 1977, the Russian government apparently decided that the tour had gone too well!  American bands were not permitted to tour in the USSR for another 7 years…  There was also a PBS special on the band earlier this year.

We had a great time!  If you have a chance to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band perform, don’t pass it up… To learn more about the band’s history, you can go to  To learn about the band’s upcoming schedule, go to their official web site at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Sounds like a great evening at the Clayton. I had to go back a refresh my memory of the band to realize I've enjoyed their music over the years.

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun, Dave! I do remember this band, and your post has brought back some great memories for me. Thank you so much for sharing.