Steep Canyon Rangers, an American bluegrass band from North Carolina, will play at the University of Rhode Island’s Family Weekend this Saturday night in support of their new album, “Radio.”
Members of the band include Woody Platt on acoustic and lead vocals, Graham Sharp on banjo and lead/harmony vocals, Mike Guggino on mandolin and harmony vocals, Charles Humphrey III on upright bass and vocals and Nicky Sanders on the fiddle and vocals.
Originally, most of the members met in college and the band performed as a quintet for nearly a decade before touring as a sextet with actor/banjoist Steve Martin. Steep Canyon Rangers became widely known since 2009 after collaborating with Martin, who they recorded two collaborated albums with.
In 2013, their album “Nobody Knows You” won a Grammy Award for “Best Bluegrass Album.” This August, the band released their new album, “Radio”, which has already stolen the number one spot on the Bluegrass Charts.
Additionally, Steep Canyon Rangers has been nominated for Recorded Event Of The Year for their performance of “Test of Time” with Edie Brickell by the International Bluegrass Music Association. In the past, the band has been nominated by the IBMA eight times and have won twice, including the Entertainers of the Year in 2011.
Sharp explained how the band has worked with Martin for four years, and have performed with him a couple dozen times this year. Although Steep Canyon Rangers were a band before Martin, he said that Martin really helped the band gain exposure and break out because of his popularity. He said that the band jumped with him on shows and since everyone knows his name, people were more inclined to buy records.
In terms of “Radio”, Sharp said that their approach hasn’t changed and the product is only a little different. He said that they have recently added a new percussionist and new songwriters. While on tour, the band plans to throw in some older songs, but mainly play the music off of the last two or three albums.
Steep Canyon Rangers can be described as “heavy doses of honkey tonk, jazz, and a bunch of other styles,” Sharp said.
“We’re in a pretty unique spot where we are heavily involved in the bluegrass world,” Sharp said. “We hope to introduce people to bluegrass and bring our unique sound to new listeners.”
He said that the band is lucky to have reached such an exciting spot in their career where they can travel to festivals across the country. Playing festivals is a “staple” in the American bluegrass/ folk scene, Sharp explained, and he hopes that the band continues to spread their music with the world.
Emmy-winning comics Steve Martin and Martin Short will hold a “Very Stupid Conversation” at URI’s Ryan Center on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. Martin and Short will be joined by the Steep Canyon Rangers. For more information about the band, visit http://www.steepcanyon.com/. Their music can be found on YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes.