I never thought I liked bluegrass until I heard The Steep Canyon Rangers. The Grammy award-winning band consisting of Woody Platt, Nicky Sanders, Mike Guggino, Graham Sharp, Charles R. Humphrey III and sometimes Steve Martin will perform at 7:05 p.m. on the Main Stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival Sunday, Aug. 17.
Sprinkled amongst the authentic American bluegrass songs is witty banter, good natured fun and a level of showmanship that is omnipresence throughout the band’s performance. I saw them blew the doors off a venue at Caesars Atlantic City with Martin on March 15, 2013. The band was incredibly tight in its arrangements and melted hearts with their soulful harmonies.
The bands’s 2013 album, “Nobody Knows You,” won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, and deservedly so. The previous year the band was nominated in the same category for “Rare Bird Alert,” a collaboration that they did with Martin.
Some of the band’s songs are entirely instrumental and that’s definitely not a bad thing – and that is coming from someone who is personally not the biggest bluegrass fan. The Steep Canyon Rangers are a modern kind of bluegrass, tearing up the fretboards on their banjos, mandolins, fiddles and guitars while stomping their feet in unison.
Though Martin brought them to the limelight by performing on popular late night television programs like The Colbert Report and The Late Show in support of “Rare Bird Alert,” the band has been recording music together for more than a decade. And – this is not the band’s first time playing to a festival crowd as they have played at both Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits.
If the band’s performance in Atlantic City is any indication, The Steep Canyon Rangers could be the highlight of the Sunday night concert.