Steep Canyon Rangers’ ‘One Dime at a Time’ mixes traditional and progressive bluegrass
When I hear the Steep Canyon Rangers, it makes me feel like I’m home. This is a band steeped in the tradition of Appalachian bluegrass, which is deeply rooted in the hills of western North Carolina where the Rangers hang their hats. Being a Carolina boy myself, well, I can’t help but get a little homesick (and hungry for collards, catfish and booze at the Mellow Mushroom) when these guys start pickin’ the first few bars of “Waiting to Hear You Call My Name,” the opening track on their new CD, “One Dime at a Time.”The Rangers will take a break from touring the southeast this weekend to stop by Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale on Sunday to put on a little high-altitude bluegrass hoe-down. The Rangers exemplify all the best about Carolina bluegrass music – foot tappin’ high-energy instrumentals, a mean mandolin, crisp harmonies, and, of course, tunes about lost love, little money, pretty faces, Jesus and a jukebox.North Carolina, in my experience, is full of all those things.The band’s latest disc is a mix of traditional and progressive bluegrass, replete with the soul and heart found frequently in the recordings of the genre’s latest and greatest.I have a soft spot in my heart for the passion often found in gospel music, and the Rangers’ a capella “I Can’t Sit Down” is no exception. Indeed, there’s something divine in the Rangers’ singing.On the rest of the disc, the pickin’ is first-rate, as these guys unleash their singing mandolin, banjo and six-strings like a bunch of passionate front porch pickers in the backwoods of the Smokies.The Steep Canyon Rangers formed in Chapel Hill, N.C., often playing gigs in a pizza joint called the Mellow Mushroom when most of the band members were attending the University of North Carolina. They later migrated west to Asheville, N.C., where acoustic music is as common as rhododendron trees and Appalachian waterfalls.And, they’ve played to great applause and reviews at some of the southeast’s best acoustic venues, most notably Merlefest in Wilkesboro, N.C., which is tantamount to a Telluride Bluegrass Festival of the east.The Rangers’ show on Sunday is sure to be an acoustic jam that will be a treat for new and longtime ‘grassers alike. You best be there. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com Rangers in the nightn Who: Steep Canyon Rangersn What: Bluegrass musicn When: 8 p.m. Sundayn Where: Steve’s Guitars, Carbondalen How Much: $10n Information: 963-3304
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