Almanac Music: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band @JazzFest 2024


‘I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high
Jumped so high
Then he’d lightly touch down’




The Off The Record New Orleans 2024 Tour: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 


The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band after performing and recording for nearly sixty years have decided it is time to call it quits after a long and distinguished career. 


Their performance at JazzFest is part of a farewell tour to celebrate their wonderful career and to give fans one last chance to see the band. 


The band first introduced themselves to a world wide audience through their interpretation of Jerry Jeff Walker’s timeless masterpiece, ‘Mr Bojangles’. Shortly afterwards they forged a meeting with the cream of country music to record Will The Circle Be Unbroken, and along with The Byrds, Gram Parsons et al they were a pivotal part in the merging of country and rock music into a format known and loved today.


I was surprised NGDB were slated to play on the Fais Do Do stage as it is a smaller stages compared with the two main stages, The Gentilly Stage, and The National Stage. However it is one you can get up close to and gain a greater appreciation of the music makers. One of the advantageous of being vertically challenged is most people make allowances for you to obtain better viewing spots and it was no exception for the NGDB. To be up close watching the facial expressions, the nods and winks to fellow players to take the lead, and the interactions between the players is something you do not see way back in the bleachers.



Jeff Hanna


Jaime Hanna



Ross Holmes


Leader Jeff Hanna, and drummer/harmonica player Jimmie Fadden are the only original members still playing (1965 – present). Keyboardist Bob Carpenter has been with the band since 1977. Jeff’s son Jaime (2018 – present) guitar and vocals (and former Mavericks touring member), Jim Photoglo – bass, acoustic guitar, vocals (2016–present), and Ross Holmes – fiddle, mandolin, vocals (2018–present) make up the rest of the band.


With only an hour or so playing time on stage we knew what to expect – all their classic songs, and surprisingly, some terrific covers of songs such as Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’ which opened the show, and The Band’s ‘The Weight’ to close the show, and in between, all the classics and more.



Col and Stan with Dave, an Aussie guy we met in the crowd



The NGDB have always been a goodtime, feel good band who obviously enjoy playing together as much as their audience enjoy watching and listening to them. Even after sixty years their enthusiasm is still evident with that spontaneity about it, reaching out to grab you by the scruff of the neck imploring you to join in with the fun and enjoyment. You only had to look around you to witness the smiles of love and joy on everyone’s face to acknowledge that fact.



‘Mr Bojangles’


Of course everyone was waiting for ‘Mr Bojangles’. Half through the set the opening bars primed everyone for what was to come. We sang along, we soft shoed (if we could – some tried!) and a great feeling of joy and happiness came over us, and yes, I will admit it, a tear came to my eye. It is such a poignant song that oozes so much feeling and regard that you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the song. There were many hoarse voices at the end of the song.



Jimmie Fadden playing drums and harmonica during ‘Mr Bojangles’


All the members in the band are exceptional players, and one, Jimmie Fadden an incredible harmonica playing drummer had to be seen to be appreciated. I’ve never seen a drummer play drums and harmonica simultaneously. Difficult I would think but he did it with ease.



‘the Weight



Like all good things they must evetually come to an end, and end they did in a most magnificent manner with NGDB’s version of ‘The Weight’ by The Band. It was a sensational way to end such a memorable concert.



Farewell Nitty Gritty Dirt Band






All photos and videos CGR



More from Col Ritchie can be read Here



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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Rick Kane says

    Wonderful review CR, and what a magnificent band. Have enjoyed their music and albums over the last 40+ years (when I first heard and loved American Dream) but have never seen them live. So, yes again, envious! In a positive way.


  2. Andrew Gaylard says

    Thanks for being our rep at that concert, Col. Some albums rest unplayed for years, or never, in the rack, while others come out time after time. The NGDB are responsible for two of that elite set for me, Uncle Charlie and May the Circle. “Some of Shelley’s Blues” might be in the top 20 songs of my life, and Uncle Charlie’s monologue can still bring a prickling in the eye.

  3. Roger Lowrey says

    Great piece Col.

    Not only is it obvious you enjoyed their work immensely, but also, your readers can share this enjoyment from the vivid way you have captured various details.

    And no, I have never tried playing drums and harmonica simultaneously but I don’t think I’ll try either. I’d be happy to listen to Jimmie Fadden.


  4. A great review, Col.
    What memories you will have from witnessing these legends.

  5. Kevin Densley says

    Fine work, Col – including the excellent images!

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