Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers at Snowden Grove Amphitheatre Saturday 

"(I'm walking away), Let's always remember the good times.

(I'm walking away), Like when you were out of town.

(I'm walking away), But the sex was great!

(I'm walking away), At least that's what my best friend's brother said"

Steve Martin, "Jubilation Day"

In 1976, Gong Show host Chuck Barris stood near a puddle of spilled milk and broken glass left by a family magic act called the Magicians Three and introduced the next performer. "I hope he doesn't slip on the milk," Barris said, clapping for a character called the Mad Banjo. The curtains parted to reveal that "wild and crazy guy," comedian Steve Martin in a frill-fronted tuxedo, wearing an arrow-through-the-head headband gag and playing Earl Scruggs' classic bluegrass instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." The effect was comic, but the picking was serious until Barris interrupted Martin saying he can't be both a contestant and a panelist.

click to enlarge Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Banjo has always been a part of Martin's comedy act. He'd play and chuckle to himself, "Hey, that's good." And then he'd adjust his bunny ears and insert non sequitur jokes about his grandfather purchasing prophylactics. Today, the live Steve Martin experience has been inverted. It is first and foremost a blues and bluegrass show with some of Martin's sly comedy snuck in between the tunes. Martin, who abandoned live performance 30 years ago, has described musical performances being easier on him than an hour-and-a-half of solo stand-up.

Although songs like "Jubilation Day" and "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" are funny, Martin remains serious about his music with the Steep Canyon Rangers. In January, Martin and musical collaborator Edie Brickell won a Grammy Award for American roots recording for their song "Love Has Come For You."


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