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First broadcast in 1994, Tent Show Radio is a weekly one-hour radio program showcasing the best live recordings from acclaimed music acts and entertainers who grace the Big Top Chautauqua stage each summer in beautiful Bayfield, WI. In the program's nearly 30 year history it has featured artists like Johnny Cash, B.B King, Brandi Carlile, Willie Nelson, Don McLean, and many more. Hosted by celebrated New York Times best-selling author Michael Perry-who weaves stories and humor throughout each episode - Tent Show Radio features performances from renowned national & regional artists, with regular appearances featuring Big Top’s own unique brand of shows that feature songs and stories performed by its acclaimed house band, The Blue Canvas Orchestra.


Tent Show Radio is independently produced by Big Top Chautauqua, a non-profit performing arts organization, with a mission to present performances and events that celebrate history and the environment - along with their annual summer concert series - nestled in the woods on the shores of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

Feb 26, 2022

This weekend on Tent Show Radio, savor the return of legendary country-rock group Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, with a look back on their 2021 performance at Big Top Chautauqua. This episode features performances of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Buy For Me The Rain,” Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” John Prine’s “Grandpa Was A Carpenter,” “Fishin’ In The Dark,” and “Mr. Bojangles.”

Originally founded in 1965 as a small jug band, by 1969 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had become a cornerstone of the burgeoning country-rock music scene. Their career breakthrough came in 1970 with the release of their album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy, which saw the band embrace a straight, traditional country and bluegrass sound. The album included one of the band’s best-known hits, a cover version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” which spent 36 weeks on the charts and rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. The following year, the band released their seventh studio album, the critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated, and certified platinum Will The Circle Be Unbroken. The record featured collaborations with numerous country, folk, and bluegrass legends like Earl Scruggs, Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Martin, Doc Watson, and others. The critically acclaimed project has since been revered as a landmark recording in American music. Other notable hits include, “Am American Dream,” “Make a Little Magic,” Billboard No. 1 hit “Long Hard Road (The Share Cropper’s Dream),” Billboard No.1 hit “Modern Day Romance,” and Certified Platinum Billboard No. 1 hit “Fishin’ In the Dark.”

In 2015, the group acknowledged their incredible history by filming a 50th-anniversary concert at the Ryman Auditorium, which later aired on PBS that included appearances from many special guests including John Prine, Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, and many more. The band continues touring and since 2018 operates as a six-piece ensemble that includes Jeff Hanna (guitar & lead vocals), Jimmie Fadden (drums), Bob Carpenter (keyboards), Jim Photoglo (bass, guitar), Ross Holmes (fiddle & mandolin), and Jaime Hanna (guitar.) With a refreshed lineup and newfound energy, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band remains one of the most accomplished bands in American roots music.