My New Hometown

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Singer John McEuen Settles Down on the Manatee River

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band singer John McEuen recently moved to a five-acre spread on the Manatee River from Manhattan.

By Ilene Denton March 1, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 50th anniversary concert sold out Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium last fall—it featured Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, John Prine and Alison Krauss and was taped for an upcoming PBS special—John McEuen was front and center playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle, as he’s done since he co-founded the band in Los Angeles in 1966. McEuen, who still plays 120 cities each year, moved to a five-acre spread on the Manatee River two years ago from Manhattan with his wife, Marilyn. “When you’ve played 5,000 cities, you see places you like,” he says. “I just wanted water and space.”


“There’s a good local music scene here, people who listen to somebody in a bar, or they sing along. I was very happy early on to find Fogartyville. It’s not the prettiest [place], but it’s cool. I’ve played there three times in two years; I’m getting to be a regular.”


“I have an XM radio show called The Acoustic Traveller. I tape it once a month in a small studio in my house. I only tell background stories about and play [music by] people I’ve met, recorded with or know, and in eight years I haven’t run out of people yet.”


“There’s an album I’m hopefully starting next year, and a planetarium project I’m working on with my son, Aaron, who is an independent producer of planetarium shows that run all over the world.”


“I played at the Boy Scout camp near my house as a favor. [The boys] didn’t know me; they thought, ‘Here’s a guy with a guitar and a banjo.’ It’s nice to be that guy. And it’s nice to be that other guy, too.”

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