Steep Canyon Rangers – Deep in the Shade

January 01, 1970

(Rebel Records)


“Even though you haven’t heard this music before, it seems
like you have,” says banjo picker/comedian Steve Martin in the liner notes of Deep in the Shade. It’s the perfect way
to describe the Steep Canyon Rangers-a five-piece string band that delivers
original tunes through perfectly honed down home mountain music. This is
bluegrass the way Bill Monroe intended. These young guns from the Blue Ridge of
western North Carolina don’t let the influences of growing up in the ‘90s
infiltrate their traditional sound. They do it old school, and they do it well.


String slingers Mike Guggino (mandolin), Nicky Sanders
(fiddle), and Graham Sharp (banjo) can all pick with jaw-dropping precision.
They cut loose a bit on the instrumental “Mourning Dove,” but the band largely
downplays showing off their chops in exchange for well-constructed songs
crafted around Woody Platt’s polished lead vocals. This guy has the best voice
in modern bluegrass since Dan Tyminski, and he uses it to deliver a fresh take
on familiar subjects: heartbreak (“I Thought That She Loved Me”), homestead
introspection (“The Mountain’s Gonna Sing”), and highway blues (“Turn Up the


This album is just right for sitting on the front porch
rocking chair with a cold beer, or rolling down the windows and cruising a
vacant country road. Fortunately more people should hear the Rangers now that
Martin recently tapped them to be his backing band at venues like Carnegie Hall
and the Ryman Auditorium. These guys deserve to be noticed.


Standout Tracks: “Have Mercy,” “Turn Up the Bottle” JEDD FERRIS




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