Show Review: Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

Show Review: Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

By Courtney Doudna

Steve Martin1

Photos of Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers by Courtney Doudna

Most Steve Martin fans know him as an actor and comedian. Sunday night Martin proved to the audience at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Sunday, Aug. 3, that he is undoubtedly an accomplished musician, too.

Before Martin played or sang a single note he did a good job captivating the crowd with his introduction. He fired off jokes and tall tales in his typical style of goofy wit, dressed in his blue suit and shoes. Were they suede?

The crowd hanging on his every word, prepared for the first set. The all-star collection of instruments featured in Martin’s backing band, The Steep Canyon Rangers, left a lot of room for anticipation. There were at least four banjos, two guitars, a bass violin, mandolin, drums and percussion, keyboard, fiddle, and a harmonica!

During the set, Martin took a moment to tell the audience that he has been playing the banjo for 50 years, but has only been performing within the last 5 years.

“That’s actually quite an adjustment. You know, some nights I play fantastic; I do great. Sometimes I play fine,” Martin said. “A couple of weeks ago I saw Eric Clapton play live. And I thought he’s not that funny.”

It was this type of quick-witted storytelling that kept the audience engaged throughout the evening.

Steve3Edie Brickell joined the musicians on stage and mesmerized the crowd with her beautiful voice and angelic presence. Once she joined the men, it was like electricity in the air. Brickell proved that she too deserved to be in the spotlight. The highlight of her set was her eighties hit “What I Am.”

The song selection for the concert was spot on, alternating between ballads, instrumentals, a-cappella, and bluegrass tunes from their award winning album. Needless to say, the performance quality of these musicians was top-notch.

“I am asked sometimes, where I get my ideas for songs. I find the best ideas I have are when I just sit down and put on a Bob Dylan record and copy the words and music, note for note,” Martin said, during his set. “I do find that the best ideas come in the silence of a sunrise, the silence of a sleeping baby, the silence of a woman’s face when I make love to her…. Sometimes young banjos players come to me and ask, Steve, how can I get my music to people. I always give the same answer. One, be very creative; don’t let anyone tell you how to write your music. Two, already be famous.”

Steve2With not one but two standing ovations rounding out the Steve Martin, The Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell performance on Sunday night, it was clear the crowd approved of the performance.

You can contact Courtney Doudna at, or visit her website at

Categories: LIVE! In NWA