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A brief chat with John McEuen


John McEuen is a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, now in its 44th year. On Sunday, February 8, McEuen will be playing the Little Bear Saloon in Evergreen with Matt Cartsonis just weeks after being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. The man is a former Colorado resident, and he’s looking forward to coming back to play one of his old haunts. We spoke to him about all of that and more…J

Yellow Scene: How did it feel to be inducted into the Colorado Hall of Fame last month?

John McEuen: It was a total shock and surprise, and a wonderful thing. It was nice to have a free ticket to such a wonderful show. We went on last. It was a very home-coming feeling, even though we don’t live here now. I raised six kids in Clear Creek County. I lived here for 20 years. The kids still talk about this area as home.

YS: Do you miss it?

JM: I miss it, but I get to see it now and again. I like where I am now. I’ve played an average of 130 cities a year, and that’s in the last ten years. Prior to that, it might have been 180. So you see a lot of places, and there are things about Colorado that are absolutely wonderful. But I live in Florida now and my pipes don’t freeze. Nor my battery.

YS: What can we expect from Sunday’s show?

JM: The Little Bear is a really friendly place where it feels like I know everybody in the audience. They know the Dirt Band music, and it’s gonna be a time at the Little Bear where I’m going to dig into the catalog of the Dirt Band music, because I can and I get to play whatever I want. My son Nathan will be playing with me, he’s 34 now and went to grade school in Colorado. He grew up on the Dirt Band music, and mine. I think it’s going to be a two-and-a-half hour set of songs that people are excited to hear on stage again.

YS: Have you played the Little Bear before?

JM: Oh yeah. I played there with Doc Watson and Leon Russell, by myself, with other people, sitting in with other bands… back in the 1970s, when I lived here, if anybody played the Little Bear that I knew, I would often sit in with them. The Little Bear is like an institution. It’s been there so many years, it’s like a time travel trip. It’s like going back to the good part of the 1970s. The sound system is incredible and they know how to use it. Its a funky stage, that’s for sure. If you rolled up to the Little Bear for the first time, and you were playing there, you’d go, “Oh my God, my career’s over.” As soon as the show starts, you go, “This is the best audience ever.”

YS: When this show’s done, what’s next?

JM: All of the information can be found on my website. My mother thought of my website name – it’s johnmceuen.com. I added the .com. I’m easy to find on the internet. You can just put in “John Nitty Gritty” on Google, because my last name is so hard to spell. I’m doing several shows with John Carter Cash – Johnny and June’s son. That’s coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m playing Key West for the first time at the end of February. The Dirt Band starts playing at the end of March, and we’ll probably do the normal 80 shows this year. I’m planning a planetarium show, which is fun, called The Simple Gift of Christmas. It’s for planetariums to play around Christmas. I also have syndicatednews.net, which is a website I’ve been developing – take a look at it. It’s still under construction.

John McEuen and Matt Cartsonis play at 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 8 at the Little Bear Saloon; 28075 Colorado 74, Evergreen; 303-674-9991; $18.


Brett Calwood
Brett Callwood is an English journalist, copy writer, editor and author, currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is the music editor with the LA Weekly. He was previously a reporter at the Longmont Times-Call and Daily Camera, the music editor at the Detroit Metro Times and editor-in-chief at Yellow Scene magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Callwood

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