Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the circle be unbroken
One day the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a rag tag bunch of talented hippies, had an idea that some of the most talented musicians in America who had been overlooked were slipping into obscurity. They thought the best way to bridge the gap between these musical superstars who were overlooked outside of the Nashville sound and scene was to make an album celebrating that heritage with them. Not all of the greats agreed to participate but they certainly got most of them. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band get their name on the cover and deserve a big slap on the back if for nothing else than gathering together the greats while they were still alive and making this fantastic album happen.
Country may not be your thing, but this is high quality country and I find it mellow and relaxing, the perfect thing to have in the background when I’m writing. I have friends who think it’s sacrilege to have things in the background that are paid no attention. I on the contrary like having the right kind of music with the right kind of feel washing away any thoughts other than what I am focussing on.
The songs are generally classics of the country era although perhaps not so well known these days. Stars of the era like the Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, and Earl Scruggs sing and play a mixture of guitars and banjos with a skill built up over a lifetime. At times the bluegrass rags and traditional songs he ark back to a celtic folk heritage, but the accents are unmistakably American. All of the tracks are first or second takes, these were experienced musicians.
Track list is full of classics like keep on the sunny side, like a rolling stone, honkytonkin and a stack of other tracks that will probably vibrate in the back of your head as you’ve heard them used on various films used as the sound of rural America.
Part of the joy of this album is the dialogue between the songs where the musicians are working out who will play what and how. As well as recording the tracks they let the tape record throughout the entire sessions so you can get an idea of what kind of person that these musicians were.
Yes, straight-forward songs with lyrics
This album has a down home yes haw feeling. It goes from ballads to hoedown finger picking frenzy songs. There is some real emotion and genuine feeling in these songs that will not disappoint.
Good to work to
I find this a comforting album to work to. I like albums that occasionally go into some high tempo music, this can lift my typing tempo and flip me into a different type of thinking, but one I can’t keep up forever. For that erason I like a diverse album like this.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with many legends of the bluegrass and country and western scene including…
Roy Acuff – Renowned singer and fiddler who popularised the more commercial singer style that popularised the music
“Mother” Maybelle Carter – Original member of the Carter family singing group, that popularised the Carter Family picking style. A mother figure on the country circuit, and Johnny Cash’s grandmother.
Doc Watson – Singer and master of guitar flat picking
Earl Scrugges – Acknowledged as the inventor of the scruggs three finger style banjo picking style, and performd the ballad of Jed Clampett for the cult sixties TV show the Beverly Hillbillies
Merle Travis – popular singer songwriter who often wrote about the hardships of coal-miners
Pete “Oswald” Kirby aka Bashful Brother Oswald popularised the resonator guitar and Dobro
Jimmy Martin – Known as the King of Bluegrass
Vassar Clements – dubbed the father of hillbilly jazz, who taught himself to play fiddle at the age of seven
The incredible string band and all of the fantastic musicians that play along on this album……… have hundreds of albums between them.
Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
This is one of those albums that will always remain in print. You should even be able to find a second hand copy on vinyl without to much trouble.
This is a great laid back album to listen to while you’re typing away. It’s country but straight up bluegrass country. So know big steel guitars and nashville production just straight ahead backwoods musicianship.