Born out of pickup sessions in a Santa Monica, California, guitar shop, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the most instrumentally acute and traditionally grounded of the '70s country rockers — so grounded that even the patriarchs of Nashville couldn't resist its generous embrace of old-time music. The results of that 1972 hookup between hippies and establishment, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, didn't just introduce Rolling Stone readers to the likes of Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson; it set a gold standard for how to mine the bedrock of American music and find the essence of the sparkle. Heading into the band's fourth decade, the lineup still shines with the core foursome of Jeff Hanna, John McEuen, Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter. A better band of pickers you'll never hear.
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