Getting The Nitty Gritty On John McEuen and His May 14 Concert at Dosey Doe Whiskey Bar

By: Billy Adams
| Published 05/11/2021


THE WOODLANDS, TX – On Friday, May 14, John McEuen, a cofounding member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is bringing  Matt Cartsonis, and John Cable to light up the stage at the Dosey Doe Whiskey Bar in The Woodlands. John chose The Woodlands as his first concert location this year with Dosey Doe Whiskey Bar as his first music venue. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is a world-class music group that started in the 1960s with their music still popular today. John was not only a cofounding member of the group, but he also launched a successful solo career with multiple albums and Grammy wins. John’s career spans over 5 decades with collaborations with some of the best music artists in the world. We spoke with John to get more background on the musician himself. His songs are wonderfully crafted pieces of art, and his music helped shape the soundtrack of people’s lives over those years. Successful music careers of others have launched as a result of John’s work and his legacy will always be remembered like his songs, an exciting man with a talent and passion for music and entertaining. His concert on May 14 will be a mixture of popular songs from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as well as solo hits and at times, off the beaten path songs that will sooth your soul. This will be a great evening with John McEuen, Matt Cartsonis, and John Cable. You will get up close and personal with music legends. 

With my 50 years with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, I will bring the songs that we love the best.

Click here to purchase tickets to the May 14th Dosey Doe Whiskey Bar Concert with John McEuen with his cohorts Matt Cartsonis and John Cable.

Early Years

John has always had an interest in music. Even as a young man, he wanted to play the banjo. He told us a funny story about when he was just 17 years old, that he loved listening to a group in California called The Dillards. Doug and Rodney Dillard formed that band. It was a bluegrass group that John would watch several times a week. It was through that bluegrass group that John decided that he wanted to play the banjo. The problem was that John didn’t actually own a banjo, so he asked Rodney Dillard, the band’s guitar player how to make his six string guitar sound like a banjo. Rodney told him to take the fifth string off of his guitar and put on the first string and then put a nail on the fifth fret. Then to finish the conversion John just needed to scrap the sixth string. After the conversion was complete, all John needed to do was ask Rodney to tune it. It was perfect. That makeshift guitar banjo was John’s first ever banjo. Six months later, when he turned 18, his parents ended up purchasing him a real banjo, but that makeshift banjo that he built as a 17 year old will always be remembered as the musical instrument that set him on a course that would forever change his life. He started playing that instrument as a young man and has never stopped. 

Working With A Wild and Crazy Guy

One of his friends when growing up was the wild and crazy comedian himself, Steve Martin. They both went to high school in Orange County and as 16 year olds, they both worked summers in the Magic Shop at the Disneyland theme park. It was an exciting time for both young men. They were both exceptionally talented young men and each would make their name entertaining people. It was a skill they developed while entertaining people at Disneyland. They would continue their friendship throughout their lives and they would even collaborate on future projects. Steve Martin also played the banjo and Steve would refer to John as the guy who taught him to play. But if you ask John, he would say that he picked up some banjo skills from Steve as well. John would go on to not only produce a Grammy award-winning album of Steve Martin called The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo in 2009, but a group John helped start called The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band would also act as a back up band to Martin’s comic band called King Tut and the Toot Uncommons. 

Click here to listen to Steve Martin’s King Tut song with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

In 1966 John along with two Southern California friends, Jeff Hanna and Bruce Kunkel  formed the band Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They then added Jimmie Fadden, Les Thompson and Ralph Barr. John’s brother, Bill agreed to manage the band. This new group brought together folk music and bluegrass. John relayed a funny story about how he was 21 years old at the time and was the only member of the band that was old enough to rent a car. Everyone else in his band was under 21. In 1967 they released their first album called The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and their first successful single from that album was 'Buy for Me the Rain”. Two years later they were providing music and starring in the Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin movie musical “Paint Your Wagon”, They came back after 4 months and broke up, but after 6 months the group came back together and relaunched their band. The rest is history. They received a great boost to their band’s success when John asked Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson to record with them . Will The Circle Be Unbroken Is In The Grammy Hall Of Fame And The Library Of Congress. It was an amazing opportunity that lead to many future successes. From collaborations with some of the top artists in the world to performing at thousands of concerts and hundreds of TV appearances, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is truly one of a kind and John McEuen was a driving force in the success of that band. We asked John what his favorite song was that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had performed and it always depends on the type of song, but he really enjoyed many songs, two of which are Mr Bojangles and Some of Shelly’s Blues. He also loves the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, an album that went platinum in 1972.

Click here to listen to “Buy for Me the Rain”

Click here to listen to “Some of Shelly’s Blues”

Click here to listen to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

John McEuen’s Solo Career

John has also launched a solo career with great success. He has pursued solo projects and have released six albums on his own and has guest appeared on many additional albums including several for Michael Martin Murphy. He composed music for film and TV. He won an Emmy nomination for a score for National Geographic. His collaboration with Steve Martin produced a Grammy award for a Bluegrass album with The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo. In 2018, John published his autobiography,  The Life I've Picked - A Banjo Player's Nitty Gritty Journey. His life is a culmination of years of great song writing, singing and performing for audiences across the globe. He can play various instruments including the banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, piano and the accordion. His concerts are truly a great acoustical experience. He is passionate about his music and it shows in his performances. His live concerts are a great way to spend this Friday. Tickets are $40 each and the concert doors open at 7:45pm. The venue is Dosey Doe Whiskey Bar. 

Click here to purchase tickets to the May 14th concert

Click here to learn more about John McEuen

Click here to learn more about Matt Cartsonis

Click here to learn more about John cable

Click here to learn more about Dosey Doe BBBQ&Whiskey Bar

dosey doe May 14 from John McEuen on Vimeo.

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