Steep Canyon Rangers minus Steve

Well-traveled bluegrass band on the road without "that dead weight"

The band's harmonies soared over a weave of banjo, guitar, upright bass, and lively interplay between mandolin and fiddle.
  • The band's harmonies soared over a weave of banjo, guitar, upright bass, and lively interplay between mandolin and fiddle.
  • Image by David K. Cupp

Grammy-winning bluegrass group Steep Canyon Rangers played their first San Diego show March 9 — that is, their first without a certain actor-comedian. The Asheville, North Carolina–based band has appeared here several times backing up Steve Martin's banjo compositions. "It's real good to be here without that dead weight," guitarist and vocalist Woody Platt joked.

"Radio"

A 2015 live performance by the Steep Canyon Rangers

A 2015 live performance by the Steep Canyon Rangers

But not entirely a joke. For this Wednesday night show at the Music Box, the Steeps were showcasing their own tunes, and it's about dang time. Highlighting standouts from their latest record, they played an excellent and nourishing set — from the crossover title track “Radio,” to the twangy “Diamonds in the Dust,” melancholy ballad “Blue Velvet Rain” and country-radio-ready “Blow Me Away.”

Throughout, the band's harmonies soared over a weave of banjo, guitar, upright bass, and lively interplay between mandolin and fiddle. This visit, the exceptional musicianship included box-kit percussion, added to the band's lineup a couple years back. They even surprised the audience with a drum circle style jam to end their set. But for the most part, the hard-touring band finally brought San Diego what most of the country has already witnessed its music to be — bluegrass at its finest.

  • Concert: Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Date: March 9
  • Venue: Music Box
  • Seats: GA

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