Back in the 1970s Martin won two Grammy awards for best comedy album – 1977’s Let’s Get Small and 1978’s A Wild & Crazy Guy. At that time no one would have guessed that his next Grammy would be for playing the banjo.
But Martin fans are very familiar with their hero’s passion for the instrument. Even though he would mostly use the banjo for a prop during his stand-up days, Martin was known to pick a mean melody when he had a mind to. Like when he was one of the many musicians on Earl Scruggs’ re-recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” which received the Grammy for best country instrumental performance.
Last year Martin struck out on his own, recording The Crow: New Songs For The Five-String Banjo, which snagged him a Grammy for best bluegrass album. Produced by John McEuen, who also played on the album, Martin received a little help from his friends, including Scruggs, Jerry Douglas and Tony Trischka contributing instrumental work while Dolly Parton, Mary Black, Vince Gill and Tim O’Brien provided vocals.
Martin’s 2010 banjo tour begins April 19 in Detroit at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Milwaukee is next on the schedule with Martin playing the Pabst Theatre April 20, followed by Kansas City at Midland Theatre April 22.
Other stops include St. Louis (April 23), Austin (April 25), Stafford, Texas (April 26) and Greenville, S.C. (June 10).
Martin will also hit a few festivals, playing New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival April 29; MerleFest in Wilkesboro, N.C., May 1 and Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., June 11.
“I am very excited to begin my banjo tour with the Steep Canyon Rangers,” Martin said. “It has been a long-time dream of mine to travel around the country with a bunch of guys.”
Martin is also featured on the Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert CD, which features clips from his 2009 Ryman Auditorium appearance along with other artists on the label, including Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Martin is providing tickets to many of his shows to help pledge drives for local PBS stations airing the show. A concert DVD will be released in May.
For more information on Steve Martin, his banjo and tour, click here for his official Web site.