Gettin’ down to the ‘Nitty Gritty’

Michael Johnson - [email protected]

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Lead singer and guitarist Jeff Hanna and multi-instrumentalist John McEuen (banjo, fiddle, mandolin and steel guitar), of the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, jam on stage during the opening song of their concert Saturday night at Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande.

The band played such hits from their early days as “Mr. Bojangles” and “Fishin’ in the Dark” to newer, recently recorded material. The band even gave the audience a taste of what The Beatles would sound like “if they were a bluegrass band” with their rendition of “Get Back.”

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recently celebrated their 50th year together and played in Rio Grande as part of the Bob Evans Farm/Big Buck Summer Concert Series. They’re credited with creating the country-folk-rock sound in the mid-1960s when they formed in Long Beach, Calif. The band is often cited as instrumental to the progression of contemporary country and roots music.

In May 1977, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the first American group allowed to tour Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Latvia in what is now the former Soviet Union. They played 28 sold out concerts and one televised appearance that is estimated to have been watched by 145 million people at the time.

Michael Johnson

[email protected]