Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3

Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3

4.0 4
by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Three decades after their landmark bluegrass and old-time country celebration, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, the concept remains not only viable but, in the wake of O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s runaway success, as timely as ever. The ongoing projects seem limited only


Three decades after their landmark bluegrass and old-time country celebration, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, the concept remains not only viable but, in the wake of O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s runaway success, as timely as ever. The ongoing projects seem limited only by the depth of the roots music well from which the band draw -- and by the sound of this third expansive installment, that's a mighty deep spring. Vol. III embraces the blues a bit more directly than did the first two volumes, primarily via Taj Mahal, who turns in another winning performance of his timeless "Fishing Blues" and a stirring trio rendition of the title track with Alison Krauss and Doc Watson. The collection also pulls in Tom Petty from the rock world for a duet with Willie Nelson on Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene." Otherwise, Vol. III is a lot about family, literally: Doc Watson is here with his grandson Richard Watson; Del McCoury brings some bristling bluegrass to the party along with his sons Ronnie and Robbie; co-producer Randy Scruggs' visionary father, Earl, is featured on two cuts, including the Carter Family's "Diamonds in the Rough," on which he accompanies June Carter Cash, whose husband, Johnny, closes out the first disc with a new song, one of the best he's ever written. The hymnlike "Tears on the Holston River" is a moving, poetic account of the death of Maybelle and Sara Carter, set in the shadow of Clinch Mountain, with Cash's ragged, rugged voice revealing sadness, not to mention love and respect, over the passing of these matriarchs. Reveling in bluegrass, blues, gospel, hard country, and folk blues, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- along with a host of big-name pals, including Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin, Dwight Yoakam, Matraca Berg, Emmylou Harris, and Iris Dement -- once again bring together the past and the present without a hitch. This circle not only remains unbroken, it keeps getting stronger.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Robert L. Doerschuk
Like a comet that periodically returns and lights up the sky, the Will the Circle Be Unbroken series manages to be predictable and illuminating at the same time. Once again, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band draws an assembly of deities and wannabes around the campfire. Some of these are familiar, though veterans from the first volume have grown scarce: Doc Watson plays "I Am a Pilgrim" as a tribute to the late Merle Travis, who cut the same tune on the 1972 Circle session. Jimmy Martin returns too, his galloping, almost-reckless delivery undimmed by the years. From the 1989 sequel comes Johnny Cash, whose "Tears in the Holston River" eulogizes Maybelle Carter, his mother-in-law and the soul of the first Circle. New faces take the place of those who have departed: Willie Nelson is a logical addition, though his duet partner, Tom Petty, sounds uncomfortable and awkward on "Goodnight, Irene." Emmylou Harris assumes her place in this pantheon, her voice breaking hearts even in harmony with Matraca Berg on "Oh, Cumberland." No performance stands out more than that of Taj Mahal, whose presence has a demographic significance and whose rollicking rendition of "Fishin' Blues" nearly steals the show. But Mahal also contributes to the album's only serious blemish: On the inevitable title cut, he and the other soloists play with a solemnity that deletes the song's communal energies. A congregational enthusiasm distinguished its performance on the first album; here, the singers -- particularly Alison Krauss -- pass it along, verse by verse, as if it were priceless china. This music is about soul, not trepidation, so it's to everyone's credit that such moments are scarce here. Let's hope that they don't dress it up with string samples or breakbeats once Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 4 rolls around.

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Primary Artist
Taj Mahal   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Rodney Dillard   Guitar,Vocals
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Josh Graves   Dobro
Alison Krauss   Fiddle,Vocals
Del McCoury   Guitar,Vocals
Tony Rice   Guitar
Earl Scruggs   Banjo,Guitar
Ricky Skaggs   Mandolin,Vocals
Matraca Berg   Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sam Bush   Mandolin,Vocals
Johnny Cash   Guitar,Vocals
Emmylou Harris   Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Willie Nelson   Guitar,Vocals
Doc Watson   Guitar,Vocals
Dwight Yoakam   Guitar,Vocals
Iris DeMent   Guitar,Vocals
Tom Petty   Guitar,Vocals
Glen Duncan   Fiddle
Ray Martin   Mandolin,Vocal Harmony
John McEuen   Banjo,Mandolin,Vocal Harmony
Mike Compton   Mandolin
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Barry Bales   Upright Bass
Bob Carpenter   Accordion,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
June Carter Cash   Vocals,Autoharp (Hammered)
Vassar Clements   Fiddle
Dennis Crouch   Upright Bass
Dan Dugmore   Dobro
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle
Pat Enright   Guitar,Vocals
Jimmie Fadden   Harmonica,Snare Drums,Vocal Harmony
Vince Gill   Guitar,Vocals
Jeff Hanna   Guitar,Mandolin,Accordion,Vocals,Washboard,national steel guitar,Vocal Harmony
Byron House   Upright Bass
Jimmy Ibbotson   Bouzouki,Guitar,Mandolin,Percussion,Vocals,Snare Drums,Vocal Harmony
Jimmy Martin   Guitar,Vocals
Rob McCoury   Banjo
Ronnie McCoury   Mandolin
Alan O'Bryant   Banjo
Randy Scruggs   Banjo,Guitar
Glenn Worf   Upright Bass
Richard Watson   Guitar
Jaime Hanna   Guitar,Stick,Vocals
David P. Jackson   Upright Bass
Kevin Grant   Upright Bass
Jonathan McEuen   Guitar,Vocals

Technical Credits

Kokomo Arnold   Composer
Lead Belly   Composer
Lester Flatt   Composer
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Producer
Mother Maybelle Carter   Composer
A.P. Carter   Composer
Sara Carter   Composer
Jimmie Fadden   drum programming
Hop Wilson   Composer
Jimmy Ibbotson   Contributor,drum programming
John A. Lomax   Composer
Ron Reynolds   Engineer
Randy Scruggs   Arranger,Producer
Denise Jarvis   Producer
John Carter Cash   Engineer
Public Domain   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Joanna Carter   Art Direction
Michelle Hall   Assistant Art Director

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this third volume couldn¿t possibly be the ground-breaking release that was 1972¿s initial "Circle," it wears the legacy well. Thirty years down-the-line, the Dirt Band are no longer the eager young turks of 1972, nor is this sort of inter-generational tribute to roots a new concept. In the decades since the first "Circle," what was once novel is now more commonplace, and though the familiarity doesn¿t lessen the quality or value of the music, it does lessen its impact. ¶ In addition to the Dirt Band, the first "Circle" is reprised in the playing and singing of Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Vassar Clements. Notably missing are Roy Acuff, Merle Travis and Mother Maybelle, though the latter two are celebrated in song -- Travis by Doc Watson¿s recitation of "I Am a Pilgrim," and Carter by Johnny Cash¿s newly-penned "Tears in the Holston River." ¶ The historical resonance that¿s been lost to the passing of legends is renewed by several family gatherings, including performances from Del, Robbie and Ronnie McCoury, Doc and Richard Watson, John and Jonathan McCuen (the former of whom only recently returned after an extended absence from the Dirt Band¿s lineup), Jeff and Jaime Hanna, and Jimmy and Ray Martin. The passing of the torch, first from Nashville¿s pioneers to a new generation, and now from that generation to it¿s children, shows the Circle to really be a link in a chain. ¶ The "new blood" on this volume features established stars like Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Dwight Yoakam and Tom Petty. A few lesser-known (but no less talented) artists, Iris Dement and songwriter Matraca Berg, are joined by legends Taj Mahal, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. It¿s a fine lineup of talent, but their careers (often built directly in opposition to the Nashvillization of country music), not to mention their familiarity with the first two "Circle" volumes, lend this set a somewhat self-conscious air. ¶ Dwight Yoakam¿s tilled similar soil on his solo albums, consequently his contributions sound as much like Dwight Yoakam as they do back-to-the-roots "Circle" inventions (not that this is a bad thing, of course). Petty is mostly superfluous duetting with Willie Nelson on "Goodnight Irene," but Berg, who¿s best known for her songwriting (e.g., Deana Carter¿s "Strawberry Wine), gets a chance to show off a rootsy side that¿s only sporadically made it onto her solo efforts. Her duet with Emmylou Harris (on Berg¿s own "Oh Cumberland") is a highlight, as are Vince Gill¿s gospel "All Prayed Up" and Taj Mahal¿s "Fishin¿ Blues." ¶ In a year that¿s seen a deluxe reissue of the first "Circle" album, volume three can¿t help but pale slightly in comparison. But taken on its own, this is a fine album of singing and song, one that heeds (if not really expands upon) the first set¿s principles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
NGDB has put together a CD that captures true American music at its best.It manages to reach deep into the last century with timeless bluegrass, while touching the 21st century with a song called "Lowlands". Its hard to stop playing this treasure!
glauver More than 1 year ago
This might be the most disjointed of the three Circle projects, but it is still enjoyable. Several of the performers have passed on since then, and their performances resonate. Tom Petty seems a bit out of place singing with Willie Nelson but doesn't really hurt anything. In short, this is still gentle, soulful alt country by the NGDB. Pick up all three albums if you don't have them and like Americana.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haved enjoyed the few clips that I have heard from the CD, but especially the song "The Lowlands". Does anybody know who sings it please.