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Top notch banjo players?


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I saw a Pete Seeger Documentary in the movie store the other day, anyone seen it with any opinions?

I haven't seen that but I did just read his biography. He's an interesting character, I imagine the documentary would be neat.

BTW, I haven't heard any myself but apparently his brother and sister were very good banjo players also, especially his brother. His sisters name was Peggy, I don't remember his brothers name right now.

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  • 2 months later...


Thoughts on Steve Martin's The Crow

by noted composer/multi-instrumentalist David Amram

What makes Steve Martin's new recording such a joy to listen to, as well as an honor to have been part of, is that he has a voice of his own which he effortlessly shares with all of us through his music.

There are other musician-composers I have played with whose work touches you in a unique and special way, allowing you relax your mind and let your heart tell you to listen. Those artists who made me aware of this during the past sixty years, with whom I was lucky enough to play, include Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Willie Nelson, Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Parker, Pete Seeger, Tito Puente, Sir James Galway and Bob Dylan.

You could be in a room blindfolded and have no idea who they were and as soon as they began to play their music with you, you could feel something that made you play better and differently than ever before. And as soon as you met them, and had your first conversation, they made you feel welcome and at home. They went out of their way to be gracious, because they were all ambassadors for music and harmony in everyday life. And they loved what thet were doing.

Steve Martin has that same special quality.

During the entire recording session in New Jersey, I felt a warmth that filled the room. I saw that every musician and all the engineers seemed focused on the music and nothing else. Sitting quietly and unassumingly, Steve played his banjo, teaching us some of his intricate compositions.

"Wow" i said to myself, "This guy can really play!"

We all listened and marveled at the complexity as well as the subtlety of how his pieces were structured. This was really ambitious and sophisticated work, and Steve was so focused on what he was doing that it felt as if he was taking us on a cruise ship out to sea, thousands of miles from shore, into the world of his imagination, where harmony, joy and impeccable musicianship reign supreme.

When we began rehearsing with the outstanding musicians Steve and John McEuen had assembled, it reminded me of jamming with the Irish masters the Chieftains in New York, when they would come to the Lions Head Bar in Greenwich Village, after giving a concert at Carnegie Hall, and play until dawn, spreading their love of music to everyone present and making all the customers, bartenders, waitresses and cleanup crew feel that they were all part of the band, and that each song was being played just for them.

All the musicians were so gifted and learned each piece so quickly that it sounded as if we had all been on the road togther for a year. Now it was time to record it.

Take One

We suddenly felt that silence and nervous energy, knowing we had to to leap into the unknown, just like the pause before Olympic athletes hear the starting gun.

As soon as we began recording, it suddenly felt easy.

I think that is because all of us wanted to do our very best for Steve and his music, to add something to what was already outstanding and original, to enhance what we all felt would be a treat to listen to. Everyone had that same collective feeling.

When I went home after the sesion was over, I found an old scrap book and took out a photo of the late songwriter Steve Goodman, who had told me thirty years ago how much he loved being Steve Martin's opening act, and that in addition to all his other gifts, what a great musician Steve was.

After we had finished the recording session, Steve was kind enough to give me one of his books, and reading about his boyhood days when acoustic music and the banjo were such an important part of his life made me realize that this unique album is not only a valuable addition to the repertoire of all fine music built to last. It is also a document of something deep inside him that he has always wanted to share with world. And that now we are all lucky to receive this gift.

The fact that he waited to do this so many years before finally making this recording shows all of us that you should never give up pursuing the dreams you had as a kid, and that if you keep dreaming, you can make those dreams a reality someday.

Steve told me that some of these compositions were written decades ago, but they sound as fresh as if they were hot off the press. That's because Real music built to last, regardless of its genre, always maintains its value and is always contemporary.

Thank you Steve, John McEuen and all the musicians for adding your musical gifts to this fine new album. It will spread positive energy and high standards everywhere, and will surely inspire and uplift today's young listeners. I can hardly wait for the next one.

Product Description

The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo is the first full-length bluegrass album from actor/comedian/musician Steve Martin. After playing on the Grammy Award winning Foggy Mountain Breakdown with Earl Scruggs, Martin began writing a string of new banjo songs, some with lyrics and some as instrumentals. An album forty-five years in the making, The Crow features special appearances by Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Mary Black, Tim O'Brien, Earl Scruggs, Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka. Recorded in Dublin, Hollywood, Nashville and New Jersey and produced by John McEuen, of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the album consists of fifteen original tracks written by Martin.

I have loved the banjo my whole life," says Martin. "The songs on this record represent the influence of a dozen players and a thousand tunes, and I thank them all. But it's the banjo itself I thank most for generating nostalgia for experiences I never had, joy I was yet to experience, and melancholy that was yet to come."

"Steve shows the same skill at crafting a story within the lyric of a song as he does with a novel or comedic script," according to producer John McEuen. "People will be pleasantly shocked at how vast and varied this music is. This album will show Steve as a composer of unique melodies, hot licks and soulful lyrics. He is definitely a songwriter with an unusual twist for notes and lyrics."

The Crow comes packaged with a 24-page booklet, featuring Steve's writing on the role the banjo has played in his life, along with his inspiration for each song that appears on the album."


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The Steve Martin album is pretty good. Only one comedy song and lots of instrumentals. I knew he played banjo in his early stand-up days but I didn't know what a pro he was.

Blurry: do you have much Bill Keith? I've got the "Something borrowed..." album which is awesome and a couple other things but his stuff seems to be hard to find or non-existent.

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