Mar 15, 2011

Steve Martin: Banjo Playin' Fool

This next song is called "Angry Birds: Level 7"
I just got back from seeing Steve Martin at Joe's Pub, playing Bluegrass Banjo with The Steep Canyon Rangers, and before you can cough "The Return of Bruno" suggestively into your hand, let me just say that it was completely amazeballs. Martin has been playing banjo for a quite a while, and this is not his first CD release, but for some reason I have always blocked that part of his career from entering my conscious thought.  He was Steve Martin: Comedian and Steve Martin: Author, but Steve Martin: Banjoist was not on the docket. Apparently, I was missing out. Rather than go point-by-point through the whole show, let me just point out a few of the best bits:

  • The Steep Canyon Rangers (SCRs) are really great and clearly happy to be playing with Steve Martin and receiving all of the attention that goes with that. One of the most beautiful songs in the set doesn't involve Martin at all, as four of the Rangers croon in Barbershop Quartet awesomeness. While the whole band is in tip top form, standouts are Woodie Platt on Guitar/Lead Vocals and Nicky Sanders on Fiddle. Sanders, who looks like a mix of Paul Dano and James Spader, plays the fiddle with a verve and lightness of spirit that almost inspired me to pick up the violin again (and dust of the "Turkey in the Straw" score sheet).
  • Steve Martin looks really great, and his dexterous and quick fingers are a sight to behold (ladies). He walks onto the stage with a Warren Beatty-esque swagger and really commands respect in the room almost immediately. Everyone in the audience was in love with him already, so it's not that hard.
  • Martin also blends comedy really well into the act, and the SCRs are more than happy to play along with him.  They all seam like they are having a really good time. It never takes the forefront, but Martin knows that people want the funny. He's quick with a joke (or perhaps to light up your smoke), and one gets the sense that there's nowhere that he'd rather be.
  • There's nary a jug in sight, which is a little upsetting and the saddest part of the whole night. Nobody even tried to blow into a jug, people!
  •  A few standout songs: One about how there are no good songs about Atheists because all the best songs are religious, and Wally On the Run from one of his previous CDs. Nicky Sanders really got into it.
  • Weirdest Moment: Someone kept yelling "Wild and Crazy Guys" throughout the night, like it was a song suggestion. I almost expected him to eventually start shouting "King Tut," but I guess that would have been too relevant.
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