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Jimmy Ibbotson, playing with Sons and Brothers Band

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Jimmy Ibbotson, playing with Sons and Brothers Band Hillside Gardens, 1006 S. Institute St., 520-9463 Wednesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. $20.
Jim Ibbotson spent nearly four decades playing for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a country rock outfit that enjoyed national fame. Their most well-known single, a cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles," made Billboard's Top 10 in 1971. They also won a Grammy for the best country vocal performance in 1989.

As they traveled the road and experienced life's bumps together, from divorce to bouts with alcoholism, their emotions became synchronistic. Ibbotson says he could cheer his singing partner with a well-executed harmony. He loved that. "We were closer than brothers, certainly closer than married people," he says.

But when life on the road wore old about two years ago, Ibbotson started performing solo. Now he revels in the freedom to follow his whims during shows. In a concert a couple weeks ago, he performed for twice as long as planned, citing a "magical" vibe. And he believes strongly in the importance of playing fresh material.

"In the Bible, it says "Sing unto the Lord a new song,' not "Play your greatest hits over and over again,'" he says.

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