Steep Canyon Rangers w/ Seth Adam - 11/4
at City Winery New York City
When the time came for the Steep Canyon Rangers to record the follow-up to 2012’s Nobody Knows You, they headed north to Woodstock, NY, to Levon Helm’s famed studio with Grammy-winning producer Larry Campbell and engineer Justin Guip. This was a departure for the band, and they gave Campbell full control over the recording rather than act as their own co-producer.
The band wanted Tell The Ones I Love to reflect the spirit of their concerts—an original, freewheeling, high-energy approach to bluegrass that rests mainly on the songwriting of Graham Sharp and Charles Humphrey. They recorded the album almost entirely live, using few overdubs. “We wanted it to be different from our last album,” explained banjo player Graham Sharp, “and create something more raw and immediate.” Guitarist Woody Platt added that they headed into recording with “more confidence and momentum” from both their Grammy win and their unrelenting touring schedule.
Campbell, a highly sought after musician and producer (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm), was often down on the floor with the band so he could feel what was being performed. His strategy to have the music sound organic – “where you can hear the environment of the barn” – fit well with the band’s performances. Sharp praised Campbell for being “exactly what we needed in a producer. Larry took us through arrangements from a little different perspective.”
Tell The Ones I Love showcases the Steep Canyon Rangers’ myriad talents— nimble instrumental agility, tight harmony vocals, and inventive songwriting. The 12-song set ranges from full-band workouts like the title track to the haunting, vocally tight “Hunger.” On “Las Vegas,” the band displays jazzy touches while Mike Guggino’s instrumental “Graveyard Fields” is a bluegrass tour de force. Tell The Ones I Love, in fact, affords each Ranger opportunities to shine, whether it’s Graham Sharp’s expressive banjo intro on Charles Humphrey/Jonathan Byrd’s plaintive “Bluer Words Were Never Spoken,” Nicky Sanders’ soaring fiddle on “Boomtown” or Humphrey’s walking bass that anchors his “Mendocino County Blue.” “It’s a record that doesn’t stay on the same plane,” Platt, who contributes dynamic lead vocals on nine of the songs, explained. “It has an interesting contour, like we try to develop in our live shows.”
These days, it’s hard to talk about the Steep Canyon Rangers without mentioning Steve Martin. After meeting at a party and clicking immediately, Martin invited the band to tour and record with him. 2011’s collaboration Rare Bird Alert was nominated for a Grammy, and later that year, they won IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award. They average about 50 dates a year together, touring as Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, and most recently with the addition of special guest Edie Brickell. What has emerged is a real collaboration of seven consummate musicians—creating music that they are passionate about, and blending it with humor to form a sophisticated show. They are proud that it has exposed legions of new fans to the bluegrass genre. These collaborations have stretched the Steep Canyon Rangers musically, and definitely broadened their horizons and experiences, which include recent appearances on Austin City Limits, the Late Show with David Letterman, and the Today Show, and performances at Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, MerleFest, Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, as well as their own Mountain Song festival and Mountain Song at Sea cruise.
Sam Bush, The Del McCoury Band, Yonder Mountain String Band
ABOUT SETH ADAM:
Singer/songwriter Seth Adam is well known for his passionate live performances. The alt-country, rootsy rocker draws comparisons to Counting Crows, Will Hoge, and Son Volt. The most recent studio release, Amplify (2010) was described by New Haven Advocate writer James Velvet as "This 10-song full-length is beautifully written, played and produced. This level of craftsmanship and polish are not often heard on the local scene." Never one to rely on the norms of the music industry, this self-described "scrapper" takes a page out of the Lucinda Williams instruction book by touring as much as possible, and writing deeply personal, heartfelt rock & roll songs. He has shared the stage with Grammy-winning Robert Cray, Tonic, Vertical Horizon, Carbon Leaf, The Alternate Routes, Will Hoge and Mayer Hawthorne, has had a song licensed to Volkswagen, and was described by entertainment columnist Roger Friedman as "the hardest-working best live act in indie rock." Seth, along with Gerry Giaimo, John Jackson, and a cast of studio musicians, are currently recording songs for the third studio album, tentatively titled Steel Tempered Pride, projected to release summer of 2013.
Gin Blossoms, Wilco, Peppertown