Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers will be appearing at Caesars on Friday night, March 15. Yes, this is Steve Martin the comedian with a banjo in his hand. Steve has played the banjo since he was 17 and he’s very good at it.
So is the band backing him up, the Steep Canyon Rangers. The lead voice of that band is Woody Platt. Recently, Woody took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Examiner.com.
On a personal note, Woody Platt is from Brevard, N.C. He started playing guitar at UNC Chapel Hill. He’s married to singer/songwriter Shannon Whitworth. And although Woody had previously played with Steve Martin on "Prairie Home Companion" in 2009, the relationship between Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers didn't become official until 2011.
I asked Woody where the name of the band came from. He chuckled and said it came off of a bottle of beer, Deep Canyon Stout. “We put tape over the word stout on the label and wrote rangers on it for some reason. That became our name. We've been together since 2000.”
The Steep Canyon Rangers play bluegrass, but the sound is not classic bluegrass, per se. I asked Woody to describe it. He said, “We’re a bluegrass band, but we go through the styles. We’re kind of a youthful, kind of fresh interpretation of bluegrass.”
We talked about the friendships the band members share. Woody and Mike Guggino have been friends since childhood. The rest of the band came together in college. “We’re great friends, the best of friends, very, very close riends. That’s been our secret through thick and thin, our friendship and the true joy we share on stage.”
The Steep Canyon Rangers are:
- Woody Platt – Guitar/vocals
- Nicky Sanders – Fiddle/vocals
- Mike Guggino – Mandolin/vocals
- Graham Sharp – Banjo/Vocals
- Charles R. Humphrey III – Bass Fiddle/vocals
- And, of course, they will add Steve Martin on banjo for the March 15 concert at Caesars
This led us into the big question on most people’s minds. How did the Steep Canyon Rangers get hooked up with Steve Martin? Woody told me he met Steve through his wife. Woody’s wife had actually known Steve’s wife before they were married. When they got married, Woody was introduced to Steve at a dinner party in North Carolina.
I had watched some video interviews with the Steep Canyon Rangers and one of them intrigued me. It was fiddle player Nicky Sanders talking about Woody. Nicky said that Woody “makes every melody his own.” I asked Woody how he does that. Woody said it’s just a feeling and that it always changes just a little bit.
Since Woody Platt’s wife is a performer, too, I asked him if they ever perform together. He told me that they do occasionally tour together and sometimes their respective bands will be on the same bill.
I mentioned to Woody that I saw a lot of photos of him fishing. He confessed to a lifetime love of fishing, saying it’s been his number one pastime his entire life.
I asked Woody about charity work and he told me that Steep Canyon Rangers founded the Mountain Song Festival in 2006 to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County. The festival is still ongoing and, as of 2012, had raised over $300,000.
Our time was drawing to a close, so I asked Woody about what the future holds for the Steep Canyon Rangers, both with and without Steve Martin. Woody said that the band is “real busy” and picking up fans. The guys want to keep growing their music and growing their fan base and, of course, finding that balance between the road and being at home with family.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the Atlantic City area on Friday, March 15, come on down to the Circus Maximus theater at Caesars to see Steve, Woody and the guys. Tickets are $49 to $100 plus applicable taxes and fees, depending upon seating. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster online or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
Enjoy the show!