A lot of the hippie musicians in the 1960's played around with older forms of music. There's nothing wrong with that; hell, Oh, Susannah is still one of the best songs I've ever heard in my life. James Taylor's version of that is a complicated little piece of guitar playing, too. Stephen Foster would love to hear it if he only could. Well, maybe he's listening to it right now; who knows?

But one of the types of music that appealed to some of the flower children who had parents with taste was the old jug band music. Obviously, this was a favorite of John Sebastian. Some other guys, Jeff Hanna and Bruce Kunkel, had this same passion for jug band music. Hanna played guitar and sang, and Kunkel played guitar and washtub bass. They played some free gigs in Long Beach, CA, and met Ralph Barr, Les Thompson, Jimmie Fadden and Jackson Browne. These guys were the first incarnation of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Jackson Browne soon heard the calling of songwriting, perhaps influenced by folks like James Taylor. He was replaced by John MeEuen who was an excellent musician, playing banjo, fiddle, mandolin, steel guitar... hell, you name it.

Their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles is still the best I've ever heard. And I saw Sammy Davis, Jr. do it in a live Las Vegas show one night. (Please don't ask me about that drunken weekend; OK?)

Their version of Will the Circle Be Unbroken? brought a whole new respect for old Nashville performers such as Roy Acuff and Earl Scruggs and Mother Maybelle Carter. They'd been singing this song since they were kids.

Personally, I'll just never forget when I got their debut album in 1967, self-titled, and heard "Some of Shelly's Blues Again."

All this talk about leaving
Is strictly bad news.

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