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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Asleep At The Wheel Review

Asleep at the Wheel
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We are lucky to have quite a few legends playing the Albany Area in 2012. Last night (9/27/2012), at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, we received a visit from two bands that have stood the test of time making their own unique brand of music appeal to fans of all ages and all genres. 

Asleep at the Wheel began the evening with a musical journey to Texas. The air filled with fiddle, steel guitar, hot country guitar licks, and the infectious beat of Western Swing. From Asleep at the Wheel standards like ‘Route 66′ and ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ to the expected Bob Wills’ tributes, the band was fresh, smooth and respectful of a style of music that has dwindled in popularity most everywhere but their home state of Texas.

Ray Benson (61) and company proved to the crowd why they are deserving of the 9 Grammy Awards they’ve picked up along the way. As a fan of the band’s catalog, I missed hearing their first Top 10 Country Hit ‘The Letter That Johnny Walker Read’ (1975). I also think their ‘original’ version of ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’ (1990-two years before Brooks and Dunn) would have been cool to hear as well.

Next came the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a group that originally started in 1966. With that distinct Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sound, Jeff Hanna (65-although he appears much younger looking) led the group of stellar musicians through their massive American music catalog. Covering all genres the group has been able to conquer, from mainstream country hits like ‘Fishin’ In The Dark’ to ‘Dance Little Jean,’ the Dirt Band delivered one top notch performance after another. Highlights included John McEuen’s (67) ability to play several instruments including his retro banjo solos, Jimmie Fadden’s rockin’ harmonica solos, and piano-player Bob Carpenter’s ‘original’ version of ‘Bless The Broken Road,’ (co-penned by Hanna and made a hit for Rascal Flatts).

The much anticipated ‘Mr. Bojangles’ really made you realize how long this band has been together and how many great songs they’ve recorded through the years, including the critically acclaimed ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ projects. When we recently interviewed John McEuen, he claimed that the Dirt Band was having more fun now than they were years ago, he was certainly telling the truth!  The band really looked like they were having a great time, even if they’ve been singing some of the same songs for over 40 years.

If more time allowed, I would have loved to have heard ‘Modern Day Romance’ ‘Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream)’ and ‘Stand A Little Rain.’  Hats off to both bands who really presented music lovers with a slice of American music history, and showcasing how diverse sounds and people can come together through the common thread of music!

The next legends on our concert list include a bus trip to Charley Pride October 12, Alan Jackson in Glens Falls on October 20, and Bill Anderson at Saratoga Music Hall on November 11.  You can learn more about these shows by clicking here.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
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