Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band didn’t dip all the way back to the jug band music of their ’60s albums, but they never-the-less covered quite a wide swath across the landscape of Americana music during the inaugural concert of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall’s new fall season.
Led by guitarist-vocalist Jeff Hanna, the Dirt Band slid into the evening’s festivities with an easy-going rendition of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” and they took off from there, covering lots of musical ground. With “An American Dream,” they eased through sun-baked, Jimmy Buffett-like territory. They fired up Louisiana bayou sounds with the back-to-back Cajun swamp-stompers “Bayou Jubilee” and Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.” They took a more mainstream country-pop approach with the twang-fueled romp “Fishin’ in the Dark,” as well as the ballad “Bless the Broken Road” (the Rascal Flatt smash hit which Hanna co-authored, but keyboardist Bob Carpenter sang in a perfectly pared-back rendition).
With drummer-harmonica man Jimmie Fadden taking over the lead vocals, they boogied through the old Canned Heat blues, “Goin’ Up the Country.” They blazed their way through a bit of bluegrass with Jimmy Martin’s “My Walkin’ Shoes Don’t Fit Me Anymore.” And they ventured into the Grateful Dead’s jam-happy turf with “Ripplin’ Waters,” highlighted by muscular, climactic, extended instrumental interplay.
And of course, they trotted out their biggest hit, the sublime “Mr. Bojangles,” which still sounded surprisingly fresh after all these years. It was clear that NGDB weren’t just phoning it in at the Music Hall.