Grammy award-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers play the Levitt Shell this Friday night. The Summer Series is in full swing over at the Shell, and last Thursday night the Bo-Keys (featuring the amazing Percy Wiggins) delivered an amazing set of Memphis hits that set the bar pretty high for the rest of the performers scheduled for June. Steep Canyon Rangers should be up to the challenge, as they've been heralded by Rolling Stone as "hard-charging innovators" in the bluegrass genre. The band also has a handful of awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association to go along with a Grammy award and Grammy nomination.
Formed in 2000 at the University of North Carolina, Steep Canyon Rangers released six albums before their breakthrough with 2011's Rare Bird Alert — a genre-defining album that featured comedian Steve Martin on banjo. The band also collaborates with Martin Short, and both comedians were featured on Steep Canyon Rangers' spring tour. Neither comedian has committed to performing with the band on Friday, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying one of the best modern bluegrass bands going. Steep Canyon Rangers take modern bluegrass to new levels without watering down the genre, and percussionist Michael Ashworth has brought a tremendous amount of versatility to the band since joining in 2013, with his signature "box kit" giving the Steep Canyon Rangers a backbone without overpowering the intricate string work.
There won't be many opportunities to see Grammy-sized talent at the Levitt Shell this summer, but other concerts of note in the next two weeks include performances by Elizabeth Cook and Lera Lynn, the singer featured in multiple episodes of the second season of True Detective.