One trailblazing band is paying tribute to a true folk hero with Dirt Does Dylan, a new album by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The collection covers 10 favorites by Bob Dylan with guests such as Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, and The War and Treaty. Singer-guitarist Jeff Hanna and drummer Jimmie Fadden, among the group’s co-founders in 1966, are joined by longtime bandmate Bob Carpenter and three new members: fiddler Ross Holmes, singer-songwriter and bass player Jim Photoglo, and singer-guitarist Jaime Hanna (Jeff’s son). They’ve previewed the May 20 project with videos for “I Shall Be Released” (featuring Larkin Poe) as well as a new performance clip of “Forever Young.”
On that poetic track, Jeff Hanna takes the first verse and Jaime Hanna follows with the second. “Since it started as a song Bob sang to his son, us doing it as a father-son thing, too, came out really cool,” says Jaime Hanna. “Dad singing to me, ‘May your wishes all come true’ and then me singing, ‘May you have a strong foundation’ to him. Yeah, Dylan, he’s a pretty good writer, that guy.”
Look for two interviews in the weeks ahead from the Dirt Band, our BGS Artist of the Month in May. First, they’ll discuss their roots and longevity — in fact, 2022 is the 50th anniversary of their seminal album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Later in the month, we’ll dig further into Dirt Does Dylan, exploring how that iconic songwriter shaped the band’s music.
Of course, at the Bluegrass Situation, we’ve been fans of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for the duration. We published a retrospective about the first Circle album in 2016. Then in 2019, Hanna spoke to BGS about Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume Two, sometimes referred to as Circle 2. (A third volume followed in 2002.) Naturally we’ve covered Dylan as well, from a look at Love and Theft to selecting 15 bluegrass covers from his esteemed catalog.
We certainly agree with the Dirt Band and Dylan that the times they are a changin’, but we will say that some music never goes out of style. Please enjoy our BGS Essentials playlist for Nitty Gritty Dirt Band below.
Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano