Tim O’Brien Covers Big Bill Broonzy On New LP Tim O’Brien Band

Photo by Michael Weintrob

On March 15, Tim O’Brien Band will release a new self-titled album. Tim O’Brien Band finds the revered musician returning to his traditional bluegrass roots for a collection of songs spanning both classic covers and newly written material.

Ahead of the album’s release, O’Brien has shared the band’s take on the Big Bill Broonzy song “Diggin’ My Potatoes,” which trades the folky blues of the original for lightning-fast trad bluegrass picking. As O’Brien explains, the band recorded the track on something of a whim after a day of album sessions, inspired by their far-ranging influences.

“In the early days of Hot Rize, Charles Sawtelle made mixtapes for us to listen to as we drove across the plains,” O’Brien says. “They combined old country, blues, and bluegrass with Beatles and Dylan songs, and bluesman Big Bill Broonzy was a regular inclusion. The same kind of eclectic mix still plays in my car these days. I don’t think anyone else has recorded this song in a bluegrass way but it’s a natural fit.”

Alongside O’Brien, bassist Mike Bub, fiddle player Shad Cobb, vocalist/mandolin player Jan Fabricius and banjo player/guitarist Patrick Sauber round out the band. Dan Auerbach and Shawn Camp lend their songwriting talents to three tracks on the LP.

Listen to “Diggin’ My Potatoes” below.