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
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
you guys decide on the band's name, The Steep Canyon Rangers?
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."
Martin first got involved with the bluegrass band three years
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."
give me some highlights of the new album, Nobody Knows You?
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."
the story behind the song "Long Shot"?
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."
give me a preview of your upcoming performance at the Stagecoach
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."
it feel to win the Entertainer of the Year award at the International
Bluegrass Music Association Awards?
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."
do you guys hope to be in the next five years?
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
Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers to perform at Stagecoach
on Saturday, April 28 at 5:20 p.m. on the Mustang Stage.
more information about Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers,
visit their official website at www.steepcanyon.com.
country/rock band The Unforgiven to reunite for Stagecoach show;
Crowe and the New South to kick off final tour at Stagecoach show
credit: Stagecoach Festival
more information about Stagecoach: California's Country Music
Festival, visit www.stagecoachfestival.com.