Long before catchall terms like Americana and Alt-Country became well-worn, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band blended their Southern California roots rock with some of country’s most hallowed songs and performers to record Will The Circle Be Unbroken. Whether the world was ready or not, a new classic was born.
Dirt Band alum and banjo player John McEuen sat at the eye of the musical storm where 35 songs were recorded in six days. Circle – as fans know it – “is such an important record for my life and for many people’s lives that it just needs to be covered more,” John recently said in an interview with The Arts Center in Carrboro, North Carolina.
The album captures the Dirt Band’s young members recording with their country and bluegrass music heroes – Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson among them – in Nashville in 1971. Released the following year, Circle reached number four on the Billboard Country Music charts, spawned two sequels, and was named to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2005. Not bad for a bunch of self-described “longhairs” from SoCal.
Now as a solo performer, John is eager to bring Circle’s story to audiences, as he will on Friday, April 13, when he presents John McEuen & Friends – Will The Circle Be Unbroken in Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill. Fans will not only hear the legendary songs from Circle, but John’s personal recollections of the recording sessions as well.
Of the album, John recently told the Library of Congress, “I was just astonished that I was part of it.” On April 13 In Daniels Hall, John, his band, and the audience will get to relive those magic moments anew.