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L.A. Beat

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ready to rock the country in Fort Macleod

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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band love to play Canada , so the classic country rockers are excited to play the Canadian Country Weekend, Aug. 3 in Fort Macleod. The second annual festival features an outstanding line-up including which features a fantastic lineup including Alyssa McQuaid, Aaron Pritchett  and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Aug. 3; Brant Anderson Band, Ridley Bent, and Corb Lund on the Hurtin’ Albertans on Aug. 4 and Trevor Panczak and Rough Stock, Charlie Major and Doc Walker performing on Aug. 5 plus a good slate of performers in the beer gardens.

While bands like the Byrds, Eagles and Flying Burrito Brothers ofter get  the credit for first melding country music with rock and roll, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt band were one of the first.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt band play the Canadian Country Weekend on Friday. Photo submitted
“ We always look forward to coming back to Canada. We‘ve never had a band member say, ahh, we have to go back to Canada,” laughed drummer and harmonica player Jimmy Fadden.

“ We’ll be playing the best of the best, some from the new record (Speed of Life) which was released in 2009), a little bit of new stuff and stuff from as far back as the1900s when we started until the present,” he chuckled from a tour stop in Colorado.
 They formed back in1966 and have been going strong ever since.

“We just wanted to avoid real work and thought that playing music was was more interesting than taking a job at a big corporation,” he said.

“And when you’re 19 and washing dishes at Denny’s, you’re flexible and will try anything,” Fadden deadpanned.

“A lot of people wanted us to go to college, but Steve Miller and Boz Skaggs both dropped out of college and they did all right,” he said.
He plays drums and harmonica simultaneously, wich you’d think would be challenging.

“I just do it, I wear a rack. It’s totally weird, but it works,” he said.

 They have released a string of hit singles including “American Dream,” “Mr. Bojangles, “Cadillac Ranch,” and their signature song “Fishing in The Dark.”
 “Fishing in the Dark,” which was originally released in1987, was recently named in the Top 100 country songs of  all time by Taste Of Country as was their song “Bless the Broken Road,” made famous by Rascal Flatts. Accolades like that feel good for Fadden who formed the band back in 1966 with guitarist/ washboard player/  mandolin player Jeff Hanna and several friends including Jackson Browne.

The core of the band including banjo player, fiddler, guitarist and mandolinist John McEuen have been together since 1967.
 Bob Carpenter, keyboardist/ accordionist and vocalist  joined them in 1980.

They also wrote “Bless the Broken Road,” with which Rascal Flatts recorded a huge hit.
“It’s great, it feels like we recorded a song that made the top 100 songs of all time list,” laughed Fadden from Colorado.
“We’re just happy people like our stuff. It’s a lot of fun,” said Fadden.

He said “Fishing In The Dark,” has a theme which resonates with everybody.
“Everybody is living it,” he said.
 He said the song, penned by Jim Photoglo and Wendy Waldman, was a song the band was aware of and wanted to record.

“It’s a song we thought was just perfect for us that we agreed on,” he said adding a lot of bands cover it and their version of  “Cadillac Ranch,” which are the most popular songs they play with Canadian audiences.

“ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a bar and heard the band playing it.  A lot of band don’t get the gig if they can’t play Cadillac Ranch,” he laughed adding Canadian fans also like the Steve Goodman penned “Face on the Cutting Room Floor.”
 When choosing songs to record, they choose songs with a lyrical hook or theme they feel audiences can identify with and that the multi-instrumentalists in the band can run with.

“Cadillac Ranch is something that works on a personal level. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.
“Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to me,”  from their last CD was a quirky lyrical idea that appealed to them, plus the main riff is reminiscent of “Cadillac Ranch.”

 “Well, maybe a little bit. We love lyrics which work on an intellectual level or tell a good story,” he said.
“‘God Bless the Open Road,” was a song Jeff Hanna wrote and we thought it was a very interesting way to express that something that may seem perfect may not be,” he said.

 He said the secret to the band’s longevity is a life long friendship between the members.
“ We really work well together,” he said.
“You’ve got to really love playing music because it takes up a great amount of your ability, your time and your spirit,” he advised.
Tickets cost $145 for the weekend or $55 for each individual day.

— By Richard Amery, L.A.  Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 July 2012 10:01 )  
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