Getting down to the nitty gritty with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band |

Getting down to the nitty gritty with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

When Bob Carpenter, keyboard player for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, said Colorado is one of his favorite places to play, it’s hard not to believe him.

“That’s really our home, even though none of us live there anymore, we were there for so many years,” Carpenter said.

And that’s true. The band spent a significant amount of it’s early years in Colorado, something that has obviously left an impression on Carpenter.

After four decades playing country music and releasing over 25 albums, the Grammy Award-winning Nitty Gritty Dirt Band comes to Beaver Creek for a free show Saturday night.

From his home in California, Carpenter talked to us about playing the hits and what keeps the band going after all these years.

Bob Carpenter: We still tour every year and we just got done making a new CD, which will be out the beginning of (next) year. So we have to hop on planes anyway, so we just meet up wherever we’re going to start the tour and then do the tour and we go home. As far as recording goes, we get a bunch of songs that we want to record and we share them with each other and the producer and then rehearse them ourselves and then we go into Nashville and cut the record.

BC: No we don’t. Do you have an ideas for us? Right now we’re in the process of just getting ready to sequence and master. We got a few little touch ups to do on a couple of the mixes and you know, it takes time once you’re finished to get the artwork together and everything, so this’ll probably be out the first quarter of next year.

BC: To a certain extent, we do what we do, we play the instruments we play, we play the way that we play. That’s why every Dirt Band album sounds like a Dirt Band album, you know. As far as choice of material, you know, we’re not going to go and do a rap song, you know what I mean? We don’t feel that we, and we’ve never felt this way, that we have to record to fit whatever’s hot at the moment in the music business … we try different things within the course of the tune as far as arrangements and what instruments are going to be used and how we’re going to use our voices. … We always try to use the mantra, ‘stay true to the song.’

BC: It was pretty seamless because there was a role waiting for me in the band. You know, the fact that they didn’t have a full time keyboard player in the band and that they were working on a project ” it started out where I started to record with them. We were all living up in Colorado and I was in a band at the time and we were being managed by the same guy … so he suggested I go in and play some keyboards on some things and then I started to sing with (the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) … so it all sort of worked out.

BC: Basically since I met the guys in the ’70s the core of the band has been pretty much the same. Right now it’s John McEuen and Jimmie Fadden and Jeff Hanna and myself and those three guys have been playing together since 1966. … Guys would come and go as far as touring with us and maybe sitting in and playing on records with us, but as far as the core of the band goes, it pretty much remains the same.

BC: I think there’s a couple things. One, you can never discount luck, you know, when providence is smiling on you. I think that we’ve been able to keep at it through the tough times because basically we love to go out and play music for people. And needless to say, if our fanbase didn’t come out and want to see us play and didn’t enjoy our shows, we would have been gone a long time ago. So basically I have to give props primarily to our fans for keeping this band alive.

BC: No. In fact, that’s our favorite things to play on stage. Because the people enjoy it so much and that’s what you’re there to do. You’re there to entertain them and bring them enjoyment, you know, so we love doing that stuff.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

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