Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at State Theatre, 7/22/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Steven Cohen
Steve Canyon and the Steep Canyon Rangers
with Edie Brickell
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Monday, July 22, 2013

Steve Martin is known for his comedic timing, but who knew that he was talented with his musical timing? When most actors stretch out to music, they don't often move into bluegrass, but Martin found a calling with the banjo 50 years ago, although he jokingly told the audience, "People ask me, 'Steve, why music? Why now?' And I say, 'Hey, you guys are my band?' Actually I didn't even know what bluegrass music was until this afternoon at soundcheck."

Opening the sold-out show, his backing band the Steep Canyon Rangers pulled out the instrumental "Make it Real," setting the backdrop for storytelling, beautiful harmonies, laughter, and music. Martin met the band when they were playing a house party while visiting his wife's family in North Carolina. He initially scoffed at the idea of a "local band." Once he saw them play, they quickly changed his mind, which led to a wonderful musical marriage.

Steve made it a note to mention to the audience, "You've probably noticed that I have many banjos onstage [five of them]. I like to bring them with me wherever I go. I like to think of them as my children -- which means one of them is probably not mine." Laughter ensued before he introduced the next piece with, "This next song is a sing-along, but it doesn't have any lyrics, so good luck."

Photo by Steven Cohen
Touring behind their collaborative effort Love Has Come For You, Edie Brickell and Steve Martin also found a pairing that fell naturally into place. For the album, Steve would send Edie songs via email, and Brickell came up with the lyrics. With a two-hour show set up for the night, Brickell showed up onstage 30 minutes into the set, charming the audience with "Get Along Stray Dog." Known for her hit "What I Am" from the late '80s, Brickell has  gone back to her Texas roots, allowing her southern drawl shine through in the music.

Playing into the narrative side of the evening, Edie told the story of her mom's large family of 11 siblings living in a three-room home on stilts in Texas where she'd sit under the porch listening to fantastic stories the women told that would eventually feed songs like "Yes, She Did" and "Love Has Come for You." Martin and Brickell exited partway, leaving the Rangers to fill the place with remarkable music. They put their instruments aside and dove into the a cappella harmony tune "I Can't Sit Down."

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