May 252013

review_of_steve_martin_and_the_steep_canyon_rangersI’ve been on a little bit of a bluegrass kick for the last few years and it appears Steve Martin was too. We’re like kindred spirits. He’s become an authority on the banjo and his touring band, The Steep Canyon Rangers, are the real deal. A viciously adept group, this band can stand toe-to-toe with the best. They possess the ability to move between lighthearted, Appalachian-infused comedy tracks and true soulful bluegrass to Alison Krauss style bluegrass/pop hybrids and all with authentic musicianship and spot-on style. Mr. Martin ties all of this together with a steady stream of jokes and amusing anecdotes. There is something to be said for having a legendary, world-renowned actor/comedian as your frontman. Throw in post-hippy soul nymph, Edie Brickell, and you have an incredibly interesting entertainment experience.

“Jubilation Day” is an example of serious bluegrass chops and a touch of signature Steve Martin humor coming together in a song no one else could pull off:

Every member of The Steep Canyon Rangers is a bluegrass heavy hitter. Here, they honor Flatt & Scruggs (sort of) with a fiddle and banjo tune that builds one instrument at a time:

All the musicians in this troupe are stand-outs; the banjos shred with Steve and Graham Sharp dueling, Charles Humphrey on bass, Mike Guggino on mandolin, and Woody Platt (what an awesome bluegrass name) on guitar and vocals. They all seemed excellent, on par with one another until they let fiddler, Nicky Sanders out of his cage at the end of the first set and he went absolutely apeshit:

The second set was devoted to the band’s work with Edie Brickell on their latest album, Love Has Come for You: