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National News / Entertainment

Friday, 27 April, 2012 1:24 PM

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers to perform at Stagecoach today

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Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers will entertain audiences at the 2012 Stagecoach Festival on April 28 in Indio, Calif.


by Jason Rzucidlo



INDIO, Calif. -- The Steep Canyon Rangers are a bluegrass band originally from Brevard, N.C. It is made up of Woody Platt on guitar and lead vocals, Graham Sharp on banjo and harmony vocals, Mike Guggino on mandolin and harmony vocals, Charles R. Humphrey III on bass and harmony vocals and Nicky Sanders on fiddle and harmony vocals. Steve Martin first started performing with the band in 2009. The group is set to perform on the Mustang Stage at Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival. Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers takes the stage at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 at the Empire Polo Club.

"Graham Sharp and myself were friends at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill," Humphrey said in an exclusive phone interview. "We started learning how to play bluegrass music. Mike Guggino joined us on the weekends from Asheville, N.C. We had a couple of different fiddle players when we just started out. When we graduated in '99, we moved to Asheville and kept learning our instruments and learning about bluegrass. We moved in together and had been practicing and learning together all of these years. We started out just as friends and have been going at it for 12 years."

How did you guys decide on the band's name, The Steep Canyon Rangers?

"It actually came off a beer bottle," he explained. "We were sitting around trying to think of a band name and it kind of stuck with us."

Steve Martin first got involved with the bluegrass band three years ago.

"We knew Steve's wife, she was working for The New Yorker," the bassist and harmony vocalist added. "We used to go and stay with her when we did shows in New York. That's how we met Steve. He was in North Carolina. A couple of us got invited over for a dinner party and they did some casual chatting. When Steve's first record, The Crow, came out, he needed a band and he asked us to do it. He was really happy with the collaboration. We were writing and learning material while we were touring. We ended up doing a second record together, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, which is out now."

Can you give me some highlights of the new album, Nobody Knows You?

"We recorded it in Asheville, N.C.," Humphrey said. "It's got a lot of Americana-Folk sound with bluegrass instrumentation. Most of the songs are original songs. There's one cover tune. It's a Tim Hardin tune, 'Reputation.' All of the songs have unique desirable qualities. It's hard to pick one over another. There's one instrumental, 'Knob Creek.' We've actually re-recorded that. There's a newer version that Nicky Sanders is on fiddle. We've had a lot of requests for it at our live shows. It looks like the attention is being spread throughout the record. It just came out April 10."

What's the story behind the song "Long Shot"?

"We recorded a music video for that song, which is track 12," he explained. "It's going to be on Pure 12, which is a website that shows videos for CMT this week. That was exciting. There's actually a bonus track if you download the album digitally. You get 'Burning the Midnight Oil,' which is another original tune. That's not on the record itself."

Can you give me a preview of your upcoming performance at the Stagecoach festival?

"We're looking forward to that," the bassist and harmony vocalist added. "We're going to play a lot of stuff of the new record, a lot of stuff off Deep in the Shade. We recently, this past festival, did a version of 'The Weight' by the band for Levon Helm. We had the honor of meeting him and playing with him on 'Between Midnight and the Dawn' in February. I don't know if we'll do that or not, but it was definitely a crowd favorite last weekend. It will be our first time there."

How did it feel to win the Entertainer of the Year award at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards?

"It was a huge thrill and honor to be recognized by your peers," Humphrey said. "It was very humbling and we were amazed and proud. We are traveling with Steve Martin and playing huge venues and big shows. A lot of people come to the show as fans of Steve Martin and leave fans of bluegrass music. We feel that we have a huge responsibility to represent bluegrass as best as we can. To win that award was very gratifying. We feel that we're accomplishing something by turning people into bluegrass music, which is great for the industry and the genre."

Where do you guys hope to be in the next five years?

"We are working on our next record right now, another record with Steve most likely," he explained. "We're just trying to write better songs, play better shows, connect with the fans. We've donated over a quarter of a million dollars to the Boys and Girls Club. In 2013, we're going to do another cruise ship called Mountain Song at Sea. You can get information on that at It's a stellar line-up and we hope to keep that going for the next five years. We're going to continue to tour by ourselves and with Steve. It seems like he really loves playing the banjo on tour."

Look for Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers to perform at Stagecoach on Saturday, April 28 at 5:20 p.m. on the Mustang Stage.

For more information about Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, visit their official website at

Related Story: '80s country/rock band The Unforgiven to reunite for Stagecoach show; J.D. Crowe and the New South to kick off final tour at Stagecoach show



Logo credit: Stagecoach Festival

For more information about Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival, visit




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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.