Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to kick off music festival

The award-winning country rock band Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will play at the Shenandoah Music Festival today.

Jeff Hanna, who plays guitar and does vocals, said he and his bandmates really enjoy what they do and look forward to visiting the “beautiful” Shenandoah Valley again.

He said they typically perform for about an hour and a half depending on the venue’s time restraints.

“We like play as long as we can,” he said. “Usually we travel a great distance to play somewhere so it’s great when we can just stretch out and enjoy ourselves.”

There are a few songs that they can’t end a show without performing, he said, including some of their most well-known hits, “Fishin’ in the Dark,” which is the longest recurrent country radio song of all time, and “Mr. Bojangles.”

Hanna said the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band plays music that crosses multiple genres, including country, bluegrass and Cajun-influenced rock ‘n roll. The band is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

When performing, band members try to incorporate songs from when they first formed to their more recent songs.

“We’ve got a big songbook and so we try to tailor it a little bit to the kind of event it is and shake it up a bit,” he said in explaining how the band decides which songs to perform at a specific event.

Regarding song writing, Hanna said, they “try to dig deep.”

“We love doing this,” he said. “One of the things I think we all have in common is that we’re passionate about playing music and it’s great to be excited about hearing a new artist or hearing a new song or coming up with a new guitar riff. It’s always fresh and exciting for us.”

When they perform, they like to keep the audience engaged in the music and free from distractions. He said they enjoy playing at all types of venues, whether big or small, but admitted that smaller venues allow for more audience engagement and one-on-one interaction with audience members.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

The Band
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is a Grammy award-winning country music group that has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Band members are:
  Jeff Hanna on guitars and vocals.
 Jimmie Fadden on drums, harmonica and vocals.
 John McEuen on banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin
 Bob Carpenter on keyboards, accordion and vocals.

If You Go
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Shrine Mont Conference Center in Orkney Springs
Fee: To purchase tickets, visit the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival at http://tiny.cc/ok1scy.