Jeff Hanna looks at the photographs taken nearly 42 years ago, inside an East Nashville studio where long-haired rock ’n’ rollers gathered with un-scruffy elders who were, and still are, legends of country and bluegrass music.
“It was several lifetimes ago,” Hanna says. “There we were, in all our ragged glory, with these amazing folks. And we were all smiling, making music and busting strings.”
Then, as now, Hanna was a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a roots-minded rock group that sprung from Los Angeles and that had notched a major radio hit with a version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.”
Inspired by the ecumenical musical visions of group manager Bill McEuen and banjo great Earl Scruggs, Hanna, John McEuen, Jimmie Fadden, Jim Ibbotson and Les Thompson came to Woodland Sound Studios and recorded a three-album song-set called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” with a cast of guests that included Scruggs, Mother Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Merle Travis and Jimmy Martin.