USA Today had a nice feature on Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers in yesterday’s (6/21) edition.
The piece by Jerry Shriver is fairly typical of many such articles that have been published since Steve began touring in support of The Crow, his album of original songs and tunes for banjo. There are the obligatory arrow-through-the-head references, mentions of his film and television success, and an oblique suggestion that maybe Martin isn’t really a top flight player.
In the course of the discussion, however, a question is addressed which I have seen debated many times among bluegrass music fans, to wit, whether having Steve Martin touring as a bluegrass artist is a good thing for the music.
Though Martin acknowledges that his fame probably draws audiences that usually wouldn’t listen to bluegrass — he has played at Bonnaroo and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this year — he doesn’t see himself as a savior for the niche genre. “People tell me it has brought attention to bluegrass, but I can’t gauge it.”
Nor is he out to reinvent the form. “I just write what comes out of me,” he says of his songs. “There are two areas I like: bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music. I would like to blend those two.”
One thing that Martin says can be changed is how the public views the banjo.
“Half know what bluegrass is and half don’t,” he says. “But all leave seemingly thrilled with the music.”
You can read the full article online.