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Steep Canyon Rangers are Asheville, North Carolina’s GRAMMY winners, perennial Billboard chart-toppers, and frequent collaborators of the renowned banjoist (and occasional comedian) Steve Martin.
Steep Canyon Rangers re-signed with Yep Roc Records in 2019. “It feels like coming home,” says Sharp of the partnership. “The Yep Roc family was among the first to welcome Steep Canyon Rangers when we were just pups. As we’ve grown, so have they. We’re incredibly excited for the future and all the music it holds.”
Steep Canyon Rangers released three albums in 2020, all on Yep Roc Records. The Grammy-Nominated North Carolina Songbook is a recording of their live 2019 performance at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, NC, in which they performed a selection of songs by North Carolina songwriters (Ola Belle Reed, Doc Watson, James Taylor, Ben E. King, and others). Be Still Moses — perhaps their most singular musical partnership to date – has the band teaming with Philadelphia soul legends Boyz II Men and their hometown Asheville Symphony to completely overhaul the Rangers’ original “Be Still Moses,” which was first recorded on their 2007 breakout album Lovin’ Pretty Women. The album includes re-imagined versions of Steep Canyon’s previously released original songs performed with an orchestra. Their most recent release of all original music, Arm In Arm came out in October of 2020.
‘Every song on Arm in Arm captures the North Carolina group’s innovative spirit, weaving in jazz, gospel, folk, and even rock phrases, creating an intimate and intricate sound that challenges, cajoles, and comforts.’ -No Depression
The Rangers are made up of Graham Sharp on banjo and vocals, Mike Guggino on mandolin/mandola and vocals, Nicky Sanders on fiddle and vocals, Mike Ashworth on drums and vocals, and Barrett Smith on bass, guitar, and vocals.
Steep Canyon Rangers have been on a journey that is uniquely their own. The band started in college at UNC-Chapel Hill, then dove head first into bluegrass in its most traditional form, and over the years have risen to the top of the bluegrass genre headlining top festivals such as Merlefest and Grey Fox Bluegrass. Only to then be discovered by Steve Martin, famous actor and banjo player. Martin has taken the Rangers on over a decade long tour introducing them to hundreds of thousands of new fans and giving them prime time TV exposure. This has helped SCR become the most recognizable modern name in bluegrass music. The band has continued to tour extensively on their own, without Martin, and have expanded their genre into country, jam and Americana. The Rangers are big players in the bluegrass/country and Americana scene today. They are often compared to predecessors The Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the modern Zac Brown Band.