Katie Carroll: John McEuen by the Numbers
Steamboat Springs — The Chief Theater is about to host a legend: John McEuen. McEuen, of the famed Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, lands in our quaint Western town on Friday night with his guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. This man has been performing since he was a teenager at the Disneyland Magic Shop (what a start!), and he has cut his chops on multiple string instruments since then. I’m going to convince you right now to spend Friday night with John McEuen and you won’t be able to say no because I’m using logic: John by the numbers.
The most important year of all is certainly when five guys founded the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. As McEuen tells it in his bio, just a few guys were hanging out at McCabe’s Guitar Shop where McEuen taught banjo. Next thing you know, NGDB came into being in that mystical southern California sixties way. Fast-forward to now, and you’ve got a touring band that’s been on the road forty-four years and thirty-four albums. You will not hear the same song – or story! – twice at the Chief.
The number of interviews McEuen gave before finally deciding that it was time for his own show. Diehard fans can listen to McEuen on the The Village Sirius XM radio station and catch up on shoptalk. The show, Acoustic Traveller, broadcasts on Tuesdays at 6PM EST and rebroadcasts Fridays at 12PM and Saturdays at 10AM. There’s no excuse to miss your McEuen fix now!
McEuen just spent three weeks in Europe at the end of 2014. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure that Steamboat will be just as impressive as ten days in Paris. After all, Paris may have the Mona Lisa, but we’ve got the rabbit ears on top of Rabbit Ears and East Face, a work of art on its own. Upon his return to the states, McEuen blogged a preview of 2015: “Some new music, a kid’s book (illustrated) of the Mountain Whippoorwill, a planetarium show ..oh.. and NGDB! Back to work.” Music + children + singing bird + planetarium …sounds like he was clearly influenced by European performance art. Or, he has just planned an incredibly busy 2015 where we all benefit from McEuen’s genius.
Arguably the most important creations of his life, McEuen has two sons. Jonathan and Nathan are now part of the ol’ musical tradition, hopping onstage with Dad and even cutting their own trio record, The McEuen Sessions: For All the Good. Don’t think McEuen made it easy on the boys, though; he told Kentucky.com in 2012, “And even then, I’d only get them up there if they could do something and not just be a bunch of cute kids onstage.” Tough love for a nine-year old, but it sounds like it worked out just fine if the boys and John are recording together.
He is just as reliable as numerical logic! McEuen produced his first concert in a Long Beach, CA high school auditorium, and guess who was the headliner? None other than Bob Dylan. This is post-Ed Sullivan walkout and March on Washington.
McEuen walked away with his money back, a brand new banjo, and I would imagine, the reputation as the gustiest new musician/producer in California. And he’s the guy who is going to tell us all those stories and more on Friday night.
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Friday marks the beginning of National Public Gardens Week, a week that brings awareness to the important role that public gardens play in communities across the country.