It’s summer time and I’m completely obsessed with bluegrass music. Two things that don’t really have anything to do with each other, but in my own little weirdly wired brain they go hand in hand perfectly. This is outdoor music. It’s acoustic. It can happen anywhere and sound fantastic. Add arguably the greatest comedian of all time turned banjo virtuoso Steve Martin into the mix and you have something very interesting on your hands. High quality bluegrass licks with a hint of comedy. Just like summer and bluegrass they seem to mix just fine. Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers have recently released a full length record called “Rare Bird Alert.” Get ready for a good ole’ fashion barnstormer.
Rare Bird Alert – Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers
Steve Martin plays banjo on all the tracks. Although he limits himself to minimal singing the Steep Canyon Ranger’s more than make up for it. After the instrumental opener in “Rare Bird Alert” this record moves into some great tracks featuring multi harmonies and a special featured guest. See if you can recognize his voice.
Best Love – Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (Feat. ?)
This is not a comedy record at all as you can see. This is good ole fashion blue grass ass kickin’. Honestly I worked for like 13 hours straight today and went home and all I wanted was a drink. As I started to listen to this record more to prep for the blog my brain kept saying “go to the bathtub, make moonshine… it’s not a dumb idea”. Whiskey was a much better choice than making my own moonshine, but I guess great music makes you think of doing wierd stuff from time to time. Anyway, I just finished Steve Martin’s biography “Born Standing Up” which in part inspired me to look into his music more. The banjo has been a part of Steve’s vaudeville/ variety act since very early on in his career.
He’s an amazingly accomplished banjo player and he reaches out on this record and shreds… yes I said shreds on the banjo.
Northern Island – Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
Now don’t me wrong I don’t think Steve Martin would put out a comedyless product. There are awesome little gems in here for comedy lovers as well. Funny little lyrics and an ending that I’ll get to later. One hilarious little song is called “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs”. The song is a hymnal with Steve featured on vocals. It’s pretty hilarious and has become one of my favorite tracks of many on this CD.
Atheists Don’t Have No Songs – Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers
We all know the man is multitalented, that’s never been a debate and this music isn’t that far of a reach for the comedic and now musical genius of Steve Martin, but there’s just a sense of professionalism that comes through even more on this record than in Steve’s larger body of work. It’s a pleasure to hear him use bluegrass as a vehicle for comedy and music. It’s an amazing record. Well at least I thought it was an amazing record…
Then I go to the last track. The last track on “Rare Bird Alert” is called “King Tut”. For Steve Martin fans out there this tune is all too familiar. Back in his SNL and arena (yes arena) standup tour days he performed this song as a sketch and it has gone down in history has one of the greatest SNL sketches ever.
“King Tut” is a novelty song performed by Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons (actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It was released as a single in 1978, sold over a million copies, and reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Martin previewed the song in a live performance during the April 22, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live. The song was also included on Martin’s album “A Wild and Crazy Guy.”
King Tut – Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers
This record is awesome. It’s available everywhere and Steve and the Steep Canyon Rangers are currently on tour HERE. They are playing San Diego on 8/18. No LA dates are announced yet, but he has been know to pop in down at the Largo from time to time and play some banjo and tell some jokes. I’m so happy I got to write about Steve Martin. He is one of my comedic idols and the guys pretty much dominates everything he sets his mind to. Enjoy this CD and if you don’t like bluegrass I’m sorry, but you can go take a hike. Oh and by the way. The guy singing on that track earlier was Paul McCartney, no big deal.
Jubilation Day – Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC