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Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers

It's no surprise that the same quick and agile mind that gave rise to Steve Martin, erudite playwright/essayist; Steve Martin, debonair Oscars host; and Steve Martin, side-splitting wild and crazy guy, produced Steve Martin, banjo virtuoso. (We hear he's also a decent actor.) The Waco native picked up the five-stringed folk instrument working at Disneyland as a teenager and incorporated it into his comedy in the '70s, when he became the first standup act to draw KISS-size arena crowds. But Martin is no dilettante. Besides composing or arranging all 15 songs, he goes plectrum to plectrum with big banjo names Earl Scruggs and Tony Trishka on the breakdowns and waltzes of last year's The Crow (Rounder/UMG), now the Grammys' reigning Best Bluegrass Album. Viewers who caught Martin performing on American Idol last year got a preview of what Martin might have in store Monday; we can only hope he and his band the Steep Canyon Rangers answer the long-standing question "What would 'King Tut' sound like with an Appalachian makeover?"

 
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