Steve Martin: A Wild And Crazy Bluegrass Guy

The banjo Steve Martin used to use in his comedy act? The one he used to play while he had an arrow going through his head? And that gave him a crazy case of the happy feet? Turns out that he takes the instrument very, very seriously.

Check out this exchange from TWP's Sunday interview with Martin, one of this year's Kennedy Center honorees:

TOM SHALES: Do you worry about "things not done" that you wish you had?

STEVE MARTIN: I don't think about that. But I do want to do something with the banjo. I don't know what yet - make a record or something. Might play a couple of songs and then just present the banjo on a record the way I like to hear it. I've been playing it for 40 years and I like it, I really like it. I find it exhilarating and actually melancholy, too.

O Jerk, Where Art Thou!

Of course, this probably doesn't come as a surprise to anybody who has been paying close attention to Martin's recent doings. There was an early sign, about a decade ago, when Martin wrote an essay for The Oxford American's music issue on his love affair - his obsession - with the banjo.

Then, a few years back, he recorded "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (you know, the one from "Bonnie and Clyde") with the song's author, the bluegrass-banjo legend Earl Scruggs ... and they wound up winning a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental. (Second Grammy win for the song, which took home an award for Flatt and Scruggs a few decades prior.)

Martin managed to hold his own on the wickedly fast and challenging tune; see for yourself in this video of Scruggs, Martin and some of their finger-pickin' friends on Letterman:

He's also written some originals, including "The Crow," which he performed on Letterman this year with Bela Fleck and the great Tony Trischka:


Can it be long before Martin and fellow comedian and banjo aficionado Billy Connolly get together for an album of duets?

By J. Freedom du Lac |  December 2, 2007; 10:35 AM ET Banjos , Kennedy Center Honors , Steve Martin
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Comments

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WOW...you know, it speaks volumes to me that Martin is playing side by side with Fleck and Trischka.

Posted by: 23112 | December 2, 2007 11:18 AM

WASP soul music! Thanks for making my feet happy.

Posted by: jhbyer | December 2, 2007 1:46 PM

steve martin makes me happy in every way. from the time i was a teenager until now.

Posted by: kathi | December 2, 2007 5:22 PM

He did release an album that was half banjo in the 70's. More new-agey than bluegrass.

http://wm10.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gnfixqrjldke

Posted by: Ronnie | December 3, 2007 10:37 AM

Steve Martin rules

Posted by: mikenimzo | December 3, 2007 5:40 PM

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