Ned had been out with Tony Trischka this past week, supplying the second banjo for a string of dates in support of Tony’s Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular CD, and told us that they had a surprise guest for Thursday’s show at The Cutting Room in New York City, in the person of Steve Martin.
“Tony told me earlier in the day that he had emailed Steve about the gig, not even knowing if Steve was in New York. We didn’t actually know that he was going to be there until just before show time. We had just a few minutes to rehearse before they opened the doors to the club, so we went over the triple banjo version of ‘The Crow’ with Steve playing the melody, Tony on the second and me on the third part. Then Tony asked if Steve would like to play anything else on the show.
Steve started playing a tune and asked if we wanted to figure it out. The song was ‘Pitkin County Turnaround’ which Steve had recorded on his ‘Steve Martin Brothers’ album. After Steve played through it once, I took a solo. Steve seemed surprised that I knew it. Afterward he asked me how I learned it so fast. I told him that I learned it from his record… 25 or 30 years ago!
For the record, I got my first banjo, and two Steve Martin records for Christmas the same year. If you were to look at those albums, you’d probably see the grooves worn clean on the parts where he played the banjo.
All joking aside, Steve was my original inspiration for starting to play the banjo. The first song I learned from a record (without tab) was his version of ‘8 More Miles To Louisville’ (which was part of his ‘You can’t play a sad song on the banjo’ bit). And believe it or not, I learned ‘Sally Goodin’ from the flip side of the 45 of ‘King Tut’ even before learning it from the Earl Scruggs book.”
Take that all you people who insist that Steve Martin had no impact as a banjo player!
He also mentioned that there are a number of video clips from the recent Trischka dates up on YouTube.