Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member looks at legacy

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming to town. Jimmie Fadden (second from the left) recalled a special time for him and his bandmates: “You’re 19 years old and you ve got a record on the radio That s an indescribable feeling.” CONTRIBUTED
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming to town. Jimmie Fadden (second from the left) recalled a special time for him and his bandmates: “You’re 19 years old and you ve got a record on the radio That s an indescribable feeling.” CONTRIBUTED

The group is coming to Middletown.

After five decades in the music business with hits such as “Mr. Bojangles,” “Dance Little Jean” and “Fishin’ in the Dark,” the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has remained as an iconic name in American roots music.

The band continues to mix elements of country, bluegrass, folk and rock ’n’ roll into their signature sound.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will be in concert on Sunday, March 12, as part of the Miami University Regionals Artist Series. The show is expected to sell out.

We caught up with founding member Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica, vocals) by phone to talk about the tour and what Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been working on.

Fadden said the group continues to tour and release music, including a 21-song greatest hits album, “Fishin’ in the Dark,” which was released on Feb. 17 by Rhino Records.

The band celebrated its 50th anniversary with a sold-out show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in September 2015. In 2016 the band released a live recording (CD/DVD combo) of the Ryman concert titled “Circlin’ Back: Celebrating 50 Years.” The concert was also recorded for PBS.

Q: When you think about your accomplishments, accolades and achievements, is there a meaningful story or a time that comes to mind?

A: "Yeah, having our first single, 'Buy for Me the Rain' on the radio in Los Angeles. That was exciting. You're 19 years old and you've got a record on the radio. … That's an indescribable feeling."

Q: Reflecting on a 50-plus year career, did you know you’d still be playing music today?

A: "Heck no. I don't know anybody who gets in the music business that believes they are going to be doing anything for any length of time with any certainty. You don't think in that fashion. Every day is a new day. It's one day at a time. And, the idea of being given a chance to get out there and play in front of people is a gift. Once you understand that, you enjoy what you have, while you can."

Q: Can you talk about your live shows. How does your music cross generational boundaries?

A: "For this band, our generational boundaries are often about families, and about what happens, musically, inside of those families in the home setting. Sometimes, what the parents listen to can influence the kids. We have close to three generations that come to see us … I can't tell you how many times I hear, 'Oh, my mom played your record for me when I was little,' or 'I had to sit in the car on the way to school, and I kept hearing "Fishin' in the Dark," or What's your favorite song, Johnny? — "Mr. Bojangles." ' For us personally, that's been the case."

Q: How often do you tour?

A: "Last year, we did 80 shows."

Q: We’ve mentioned “Mr. Bojangles” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.” Do you have a favorite song you’ve recorded? And, why is it your favorite?

A: "Wow. Of the obvious ones, yeah, 'Mr. Bojangles' is a favorite, because it's such a great song, and it's so challenging to play night after night. It's a wonderful piece of music, and it has a connectedness to the audience that's palpable."

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

How to go

What: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12

Where: Miami University Middletown, Dave Finkelman Auditorium, Middletown

Cost: Reserved seating. All tickets are $40 (plus applicable ticketing fees).

More info: To order tickets, visit www.miamioh.edu/boxoffice or call (513) 529-3200. Email questions to epsteihr@miamioh.edu. Find the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band online at www.nittygritty.com.

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