Steep Canyon Rangers have a firm foot in both the traditional and more progressive bluegrass camps. Nine years after forming at UNC in 2000 they were discovered by Steve Martin who adopted them as his backing band.
With Martin they made two studio albums but to properly appreciate the Rangers go to any one of their nine solo albums. Collaboration may be their middle name having recorded with vocal harmony group Boyz II Men and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra on the same album. But the best place to appreciate Steep Canyon Rangers is live. Based in North Carolina their roots lie in a blend of bluegrass, folk and gospel but the Rangers can jam at pace just like Greensky Bluegrass or Yonder Mountain String Band.
‘Tell The Ones I Love’ comes from the 2013 album of the same name and remains a feature of their live set. It made a deep impression on your correspondent’s first Rangers performance at another bluegrass festival, not dissimilar to the one in this clip.
Around Woody Platt’s firm baritone Graham Sharp’s banjo and Mike Guggino’s mandolin are relentless while Mike Ashworth on drums and Barrett Smith’s bass lay down the steadiest rhythm section as fiddler Nicky Sanders leaps and soars. Bluegrass, newgrass, it is wonderful stuff.