Review + Setlist: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers Cut it Up at the Roberts Orpheum, Friday, April 23
"This evening is about my two favorite things," Steve Martin announced halfway through his most excellent, sold out show with the Steep Canyon Rangers at the Roberts Orpheum last night. "Comedy and charging people to hear music." Well, uh, that pretty much sums it up, except that Martin really seems to like playing music, too.
But before we continue with this review, one important question must be addressed: How the hell does the man manage to be good at everything?
He can do standup. He can sing. He can dance. He can play the ukulele. He can write long (two novels) or short (pieces for The New Yorker), screenplays or plain old plays (Picasso at the Lapin Agile). He gave us The Jerk, Roxanne and LA Story. (He also participated in The Pink Panther remake and its sequel, but those blemishes fade in the light of his earlier brilliance.) How many people would be content with just one of those accomplishments?
And now he is on a national tour that will include gigs at the New Orleans Jazzfest and Bonnaroo, performing tunes from his Grammy-winning album The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. (Not that Martin is a stranger to the Grammy; he already had a couple for comedy and another for his banjo-playing)
Maybe Steve Martin is more naturally talented and and industrious than the rest of us. But Friday night's show proved that there's another thing he's good at: surrounding himself with talented people, in this case, the Steep Canyon Rangers, a phenomenal bluegrass band out of Asheville, North Carolina.
Martin knows it, too. He played the part of the obnoxious, spoiled taskmaster (you know, Steve Martin), but plenty of times he left the spotlight to the Rangers, including the banjo player, Graham Sharp.
It was unclear how much of the audience came for the bluegrass and how much came for the comedy. In any case, they got plenty of both. Plus a special guest appearance by Martin's dog Wally, a phlegmatic yellow Labrador who wandered onstage during the rollicking instrumental "The Crow," lay down at Martin's feet and yawned.
He was likely the only one did for the entire hour and a half the band was onstage.