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Published: 2012/02/06

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen Finds Influence in Phish, Johnny Cash, The Beatles and The Band on New Album

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “String Wizard” John McEuen will release an album with his musician sons Nathan and Jonathan on April 3 via MesaBluemoon Recordings. The musicians recorded The McEuen Sessions—For All The Good from John, Nathan, and Jonathan McEuen was at Tree Sound Studios in Norcross, Georgia with almost no guest players (Dave Mason—spontaneously—added drums on “Only You Know And I Know,” and mixed it).

Jonathan and Nathan provide all the vocals, and the trio acts as each other’s “side men” for overdubs—Jonathan is featured on acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and piano; Nathan on piano, bass, acoustic guitar, and percussion; and John on a broad range of string instruments—with the versatility that has caused many to call him a “string wizard”—including banjo, mandolin, fiddle and dobro.

According to the band, John, Nathan, and Jonathan agreed they’d each choose three songs, no questions asked, and then they’d vote on three more as a group

“The album is a culmination of my sons’ influences that come from everything from Phish to Johnny Cash to the Beatles to The Band. Then, throw into the mix their having had a dad who’s been in a band for 45 years, and what that meant growing up,” John says in a statement. “What makes me happiest about this record is that some of the years spent apart from them, doing the Dirt Band ‘thing,’ seem more justified now.”

“I said to Nathan at 17, ‘sorry you’ve had so many birthdays on the road,” John continues. “He said, ‘Dad, most of my friends haven’t left the state, and I’ve already been to 25 state capitals. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

The album features a mix of covers and originals, including takes on Rodney Crowell’s “Long Hard Road” (a #1 hit for NGDB in 1984), Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band,” Dave Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know” and Red Foley’s “Old Shep.” The latter song features Jonathan’s new vocal track along with a recording John made of him singing the song when he was 11. Nathan also sings lead on tracks including “Grand Design,” which he co-wrote with Crosby Loggins, and his original “Quicker at the Draw.

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