Classic Clips – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Friends ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’, from “The Making of Will The Circle Be Unbroken Vol. 2”

I am a long-time fan of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ project. For me, it’s the ground zero of americana music – the point at which country rock and traditional country music came together and found common ground.

The original ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ album was recorded in 1972 and combined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with a host of old-time country stars that included Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, and many more. It’s a wonderful album that really celebrates the roots of country music and acknowledges the importance of the pioneering musicians featured on the album. Moving forward to 1989 and the band decided it was time to re-visit the concept but, this time, featuring contemporary artists and a more contemporary set of songs, though ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ still features as a track and, in many ways, dominates the album.

In 2002, thirty years after the original album, they revisited the concept for a third and final time. The common thread throughout these albums is the use of the title track and the wonderful array of musicians they assemble to perform them. In my opinion, this series of albums, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band themselves, don’t get the full credit they deserve for bringing americana music to a wider audience. This clip is a great demonstration of just how good these albums are. It’s taken from ‘The Making of Will The Circle Be Unbroken Vol. 2′, which looks to be a TV documentary, given the overall length of just over an hour, but I can find no details of who made it or where it was screened and it’s quite probably something the band themselves commissioned for future use. The whole film can be viewed on YouTube and is well worth an hour and nine minutes of your time but this is a real classic clip, as the late, great Johnny Cash leads the ensemble in a superb rendition of the title track. Priceless stuff.

About Rick Bayles 354 Articles
Now living the life of a political émigré in rural France and dreaming of the day I'll be able to sing those Cajun lyrics with an authentic accent!
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Jeremy Courtnadge

Absolutely agree with the significance of this series of recordings. The Chieftains added an Irish roots element with the ‘Plank Road’ records and concerts and it’s been kind of carried on by Transatlantic Sessions, joining the best of Americana with the best of Irish and Scottish music to keep the circle unbroken.