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Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Than Just "Steve's Band"--The Steep Canyon Rangers

Show Review: The Steep Canyon Rangers @ the Ark (Ann Arbor) 

SCR rocking the 1-mic at the Ark
A great band on their own, the Steep Canyon Rangers have gained a good bit of notoriety as Steve Martin's (yes...THAT Steve Martin) backup band.  These guys are so much more than professional sidemen.  In fact, their album Lovin' Pretty Women was the very first bluegrass CD I bought (Yes, I'm pretty new to the genre).

A fairly traditional act (down to the suits and ties they wear on stage and there preference for the "1-mic") they are among the most entertaining live acts I have seen.  After blowing my socks off at a show in Royal Oak a few years ago, I was excited to see them (sans Steve) when they played the Ark in  March.

I originally bought two tickets and was going to take my Dad to the show.  He loves bluegrass harmony, and these guys do it as well as any.  However, a quick trip to the ER and a cardiac catheter the day before changed those plans at the last minute.  As usual, I arrived early at the Ark and was first in line (I like to sit right in front of the stage whenever I can).  I met a young couple in line who were talking about a friend who really wanted to see the show.  I had and extra ticket....ended up making some new friends and really enjoying the show!

They guys in the band did not disappoint.  They played a good mix of old songs and material off their new album, both noticably showing the "tarnish" that 100s of shows on the road brings to a song.  I love their stage presence and who couldn't be mesmerized by the crazy fiddle stylings of Nicky Sanders?  However, the memorable tune of the night was actually a  song they co-wrote withSteve Martin --Me and Paul Revere (that would have bugged my Dad--It should be "Paul Revere and I").  Great story, outstanding harmonies, and some killer licks...everything I want in a bluegrass show.

I never dislike shows at the Ark, but this one was definitely one of the best I've seen.  I would highly recommend you catch the Rangers (with our without Steve) the next time they're in town.

John P. Bayerl

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