NORMAN — After a lifetime of creating and performing award-winning American roots music, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Their fans are too loyal, their health is still in order, and their creative juices are still flowing, said keyboardist and vocalist Bob Carpenter.
“I think over the course of the 46 years we’ve pretty much stayed true to what we’re good at. We play acoustic music with harmonies and we play silly songs,” he said. “We’ve never been a trendy band. I think we’ve tried to play to our strengths. We’ve always done that.
“And even though it wasn’t popular at some points, as you know, it comes back around. ... Roots music has become very popular. We’re not smart enough to figure this out we just do what we do and hope people enjoy it.”
It’s the band’s consistency in style that has won them fans as young as 8 years old and up to nearly 80, Carpenter said.
And even though it’s been 30 years since this country legend has performed in Norman, Steven White of Jet Productions said, he didn’t worry about booking this band. He knows fans aren’t in short supply.
White, friend of band member John McEuen, said the band has been looking for a way to get back to Norman for years. It wasn’t until recently that everything came together.
“Just the opportunity to see these guys in person would be a huge benefit to Norman,” he said. “Norman deserves this type of entertainment. I wish I could do shows of this caliber every month.”
With John Calvin opening for Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, White said tickets are expected to go quickly.
Though three of the four members are original band members from when the group formed in 1966, Carpenter said the band is consistently dedicated to perform their best at every show. They always make sure to perform hits from every decade, including “Mr. Bojangles” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.”
“When we go on stage we realize it is the first time for some of these people and it compels us to do the best show we can do — especially in this economic environment where people don’t have a whole lot of money,” he said. “ ... We really feel responsible to do the best show we’ve ever done each time we walk on stage.”
Even after releasing 33 records and earning various Grammy and CMA nominations and wins, Carpenter said the group isn’t done yet.
“We’re planning to continue to record,” he said. “We plan to continue to tour. We’ll see what happens with special projects and things like that. We plan to continue doing this as long as we can.”
Carpenter said all the band members and road crew live in entirely different places in the country — California, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Utah and Colorado — but everyone loyally jumps on a plane when it’s time to get a new tour underway.
Whether he’s playing in front of an audience or sitting on the tour bus for the next show, Carpenter said he knows one thing: He’s living a dream.
“In my fondest, craziest wishes I thought maybe I could do this until I was 42 or 43 years old, but I don’t think anyone in the band thought too far ahead. When you play music as a living you can’t think too far ahead. There’s no retirement plan, there’s no job security. Especially when you’re in a band.”