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Steve Martin, Banjo Player

Amos 02 Feb 09 - 11:20 AM
Amos 02 Feb 09 - 11:30 AM
Amos 02 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM
Wesley S 02 Feb 09 - 11:43 AM
Desert Dancer 02 Feb 09 - 11:55 AM
Bill D 02 Feb 09 - 12:11 PM
Nerd 02 Feb 09 - 12:13 PM
Bill D 02 Feb 09 - 12:53 PM
Amos 02 Feb 09 - 08:41 PM
soulkat9 03 Feb 09 - 11:20 AM
Liz the Squeak 03 Feb 09 - 11:28 AM
open mike 03 Feb 09 - 02:27 PM
topical tom 03 Feb 09 - 11:35 PM
Nancy King 03 Feb 09 - 11:46 PM
Bill D 04 Feb 09 - 12:37 PM
Nerd 04 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM
Desert Dancer 04 Feb 09 - 08:17 PM
Sir Roger de Beverley 15 Nov 09 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Nov 09 - 02:32 PM
gnu 15 Nov 09 - 03:59 PM
Dharmabum 08 Mar 10 - 12:58 PM
Bill D 08 Mar 10 - 05:24 PM
Dharmabum 09 Mar 10 - 06:50 AM
Wesley S 09 Mar 10 - 10:30 AM
Desert Dancer 24 Mar 10 - 02:56 PM
Allan C. 24 Mar 10 - 05:20 PM
PHJim 25 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM
matt milton 26 Mar 10 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,Philippa 26 Mar 10 - 08:57 AM
Les from Hull 26 Mar 10 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 26 Mar 10 - 12:57 PM
PHJim 26 Mar 10 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 26 Mar 10 - 07:03 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Apr 11 - 02:07 AM
Ron Davies 10 Apr 11 - 10:58 PM
YorkshireYankee 11 Apr 11 - 01:14 PM
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Subject: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 11:20 AM

The New York Times does a retrospective on Steve Martin's parallel career as a banjo player.

Very interesting man, Steve. And wicked sharp on the 5-string.



A


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 11:30 AM

One of the great examples: Steve and Earl do Foggy Mountain with some great help from their firends. A real toe-tapper.

ANd then there's Steve playing the Muppet Show with Dueling Banjos and fruitcakes.

ANd frailing away on Loch Lomond in his younger years.


A


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM

And playing with the legendary Rock Bottom Remainders.



A


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Wesley S
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 11:43 AM

He has a new banjo CD coming out this month sometime. I think it's available from Amazon at this time and then will have a general release sometime later in the month.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 11:55 AM

About the cd, from the NYT article:

"Now Mr. Martin is once again in the musician's role as he releases an album called "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo." The record (which is being sold exclusively on Amazon.com, until April 26, when it also will be released elsewhere) is a token of his affection for bluegrass, with appearances by performers like Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. But it is also an opportunity to show off one of his less celebrated, least commercial skills, and to reimmerse himself in a musical genre he never fully gave up."

"But starting in 2001 he began a banjo resurgence. That year Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass pioneer, asked him to play on a recording of the song "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" for the album "Earl Scruggs and Friends." In 2007 he contributed an original composition, "The Crow," to the Tony Trischka album "Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular."

That track, on which Mr. Martin and Mr. Trischka performed together, became Mr. Martin's first hit single since 1978's "King Tut." "It made the bluegrass charts," Mr. Martin said. "I don't know how much that means. It might have sold two."

Newly invigorated, Mr. Martin recorded more of his original banjo songs on an iPod, and gave them to Mr. McEuen, who added fuller arrangements by computer. Using those tracks as their blueprints, the two produced much of the "Crow" album in a frenzied week at a studio in Englewood, N.J., with excursions to Nashville to record with Ms. Parton and Mr. Gill (who sing a duet called "Pretty Flowers"), and to Dublin to record with the folk singer Mary Black."

That "Mr. McEuen" is John McEuen, of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame, a childhood friend of Steve's.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:11 PM

I saw Steve open for the Dirt Band wayyyyy back in about 1968. He did the arrow-thru-the-head bit, and I wondered why such a good banjo player was bothering with comedy..........


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Nerd
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:13 PM

He played one of his songs on Saturday Night Live this Saturday. It was a kids' song, and it was unbelievably dreadful given how much talent he normally has as a writer and comedian. His banjo playing was really good, though--no complaints there!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:53 PM

Just because I am reminded...and because I was able to find it, here is one of the funniest videos I know of.... Steve Martin 'doing' Marty Robbins' "El Paso"


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 08:41 PM

That really had me laughing out loud. Surreal!!!



A


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: soulkat9
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:20 AM

Huge fan of his


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:28 AM

Love that Muppets clip, but why was Fidel Castro on the Jew's Harp?
































Everyone knows he's a flautist for God's sake!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: open mike
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 02:27 PM

anyone know anything about 40 Productions?

maybe martha stewart will want Steve on her show!!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: topical tom
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:35 PM

Coincidentally, Steve was on the Dave Letterman Show last night (February 2, 2009). He played and sang at the end of his appearance and was awesome as usual.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Nancy King
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:46 PM

Bill, thanks for the link to that video -- hilarious!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 12:37 PM

Many years ago, I saw that video on TV, and grabbed a BETA tape and recorded the last maybe 2 minutes....didn't even realize who was doing it.....then I lost the tape or accidently recorded over it and was left with this nagging memory. The wonders of YouTube and others have boggled my mind.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Nerd
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM

Actually, Topical Tom. The New York Times article, the Letterman appearance, and the SNL appearance were all part of the media campaign for his banjo album and his new Pink Panther movie. So it's a well-coordinated blitz, not a coincidence at all!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 08:17 PM

And, latest in the blitz: NPR, All Things Considered. In addition to the interview (full audio and text transcript), the page includes some full tracks for listening:

Songs from 'The Crow':
'Late For School'
'Clawhammer Medley'
'The Crow'

Classic Steve Martin Banjo Songs:
"Dueling Banjos" on The Muppet Show (1977)
"Ramblin' Guy" on The Muppet Show (1977)
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" from Steve Martin Live (1979)
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" from The Late Show with David Letterman, featuring Earl Scruggs

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:41 PM

Rave reviews of his current UK tour in both The Guardian and The Observer this week

R


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 02:32 PM

Yeah, I saw his gig at the Royal Festival Hall last week.

It was hugely enjoyable. He was genuinely funny and, it goes without saying, a very good banjo player. I was expecting it to be a bit mawkish and twee - I'm not a fan of his Crow album because there's too much of that cutesy stuff on it, and I also think it's a bit too polished-sounding. But the live experience was so much better.

I guess cos it was mainly instrumental, with v funny between-song patter. And he let his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers do a few of their own songs. They are fantastic harmony singers. All in all, it followed the sort of 'bluegrass revue' model in many ways (eg A Prairie Home Companion), giving everyone a chance to shine, with everyone taking part in the trad corny routines (like Fiddlin John and Kate) and did so very well.

There's one instrumental on the album that is really really beautiful though. about three quarters of the way through. Can't remember what it's called, but it's definitely on my download list. He's very good at writing authentic-soundin Irish fiddle tunes.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: gnu
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 03:59 PM

Amazing talent.

The new phone book is here!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Dharmabum
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:58 PM

Listening to "The Crow" as I'm typing.
This one's going to spend a fair amount of time in the cd player.

One of the most memorable shows I've ever attended was back in 74 at Carnegie Hall;
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band W/John McEuen,John Hartford,Vasser Clements & Steve Martin.

I originally had a balcony seat,but spotted two empty 2nd row seats during the first set.
Myself & a buddy went down & filled the vacancy during intermission. No one ever threw us out.

DB.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:24 PM

I saw them on that tour! Saw them at Wichita State Univ....Steve did the arrow thru the head routine. I couldn't figger out why such a good banjo player was doing comedy.

Turns out he guessed right about which was best..


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Dharmabum
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 06:50 AM

Yea Bill,I guess as careers go,Steve chose the more lucrative of the two.

DB.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Wesley S
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 10:30 AM

Currently making the rounds on our local PBS station is the 40th Anniversary Concert for Rounder records. It features Steve Martin,Minnie Driver { singing } Mary Chapin Carpenter and Allison Krauss - with and without Robert Plant.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 02:56 PM

Because I spotted it today and I know the question will come here sometime, there is a book of tab (transcribed by Tony Trischka) of the tunes from the album "Crow", available from Homespun: clicky. The book is $20, but you can get the book and cd together from them for only $30.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 05:20 PM

I've had his "Crow" CD for a while now. I love nearly all of it. I felt his "Late For School" was out of place, a bit of puerile humor merely thrown in as an afterthought or as a "fill". Other than that, I fond the CD well worth listening to.

Not many people frail as well as they play bluegrass style. He does both quite well.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: PHJim
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM

All you clawhammer players, did you notice Steve's thumb while he plays Loch Lomond. The general practice is to cock your thumb on the fifth string after each downstroke of the finger. Steve's thumb is all over the place. I guess if the results are that good, it's OK to break from the norm.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: matt milton
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:00 AM

That's interesting.

I must admit, unless I really concentrate and make a conscious effort, my thumb also tends to hover a bit over the fifth string.

I play more 3-finger style than I do clawhammer, and I'm sure it's to do with that. In my case, having played fingerstyle guitar for most of my life, clawhammer will always be slightly counter-intuitive in a way 3-finger isn't.

You'd be hard-pressed to actually hear any difference between someone cocking the fifth-string in textbook clawhammer style, and someone just thumbing it Scruggs-style. At most, there's just a tiny bit more 'boing' to clawhammered 5th-strings, as opposed to a tiny bit more 'ping' to Scruggs-style. The difference between a slightly loose elastic band and a very tight one.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:57 AM

Joe Offer in disguise?


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Les from Hull
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 10:47 AM

Steve Martin features in the current issue of Songlines a banjo featured issue with an article on Steve and his banjo. He also selects 5 tracks for the covermount CD.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 12:57 PM

The "general practice" these days for clawhammer banjo is to use drop thumb techniques, where your thumb often plucks a string other than the fifth.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: PHJim
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 04:45 PM

Yes BanjoRay, and many folks'd say that you should cock your thumb on the string it's going to pick next.
I'm in the same boat as Matt Milton. I taught myself 34 years ago and never cocked my thumb. I realize, after conversations with super banjo players like Coole, that I should, but it's too late to change what I've been doing for so long. I do, however, insist that my students do it properly.


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:03 PM

I taught myself in 1963, and never dropped a thumb until 10years ago.
It's never to late!


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Apr 11 - 02:07 AM

Steve Martin has a new album out with the Steep Canyon Rangers: Rare Bird Alert. It looks like it is a bit more of a funny songs album than "Crow" was, though the musicality is as good (produced by Tony Trischka). Guest performances by the Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney. "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" is on this one.

He was on the Steven Colbert show in March had a nice short bit where he compared bluegrass and clawhammer style: click.

Here's their performance of one of the tunes: clicky. And here's a song, Jubilation Day.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: Ron Davies
Date: 10 Apr 11 - 10:58 PM

"Jubilation Day" is solidly in the tradition of bluegrass humor (can't imagine why any traditionalist should object to hi-tech references in the lyrics).   Great fun.

And it's great Steve has a real stand-up bass in the group--not an electric bass.

Thanks, Becky


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Subject: RE: Steve Martin, Banjo Player
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 01:14 PM

Bill D's link no longer works, but I found another to (I assume) the same thing: Steve Martin 'doing' Marty Robbins' "El Paso"

I used to have one of Steve Martin's early records: comedy on one side and him playing banjo on the other. I preferred the banjo side.
So much for my instincts!


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