Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ With Ryman Performance

by Blake Ells

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band returns to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their biggest hit. The performance comes at the end of this week’s AmericanaFest. It’s a sprawling festival held at several venues across the city. The show is on Saturday, September 17. It’ll be taped for a PBS broadcast at a later date.

It’s a full set from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and it’ll include a career retrospective. It’ll also likely include tracks from their latest album Dirt Goes Dylan. Guests will likely show up for the show.

The new album is a unique spin on Bob Dylan songs. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band chose ten of Dylan’s best for the collection. There’s a version of “Forever Young.” There’s also “The Times They Are A-Changing.” That one features appearances from Roseanne Cash, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell and The War & Treaty. They also reimagined a version of “Country Pie” that works well as an old-time string band tune.

Of course, the track and album that the evening will be celebrating is one of the most legendary in country music history. It was originally a Christian hymn written by Ada R. Habershon in 1907. It’s so old that it became public domain. It was later redone by the Carter Family under the title “Can the Circle Be Unbroken?” The track has also been recorded by Bill and Charlie Monroe and The Doors. It’s certainly been covered live by a number of acts.

The album by the same name has tons of bluegrass classics. It featured tracks like “Keep on the Sunny Side,” “Black Mountain Rag” and a version of the Hank Williams classic “I Saw the Light.”

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Celebrates Legendary Album

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has always been a collaborative experience. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up at the Ryman to perform with the band on Saturday. The band is touring in support of the new album throughout the fall. They take some time off after AmericanaFest, but they’re back at it in October.

The next stop is on October 6 at the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton, Calif. They have a two-week string of California dates before making their way back East. They’ll be in Eureka Springs, Arkansas at the Eureka Springs Auditorium on October 16. They’ll hit a ton of spots across the South including Augusta, Ga. Charleston, S.C. and Johnson City, Tenn. Maybe they’ll break out “Wagon Wheel” for the locals there.

The current run wraps in Owensboro, Ky. on November 19 at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. They will also set sail in 2023. They’re part of Cayamo Cruise 2023, which leaves Miami on February 10. Check out their entire schedule and get ticket information at their website.