Who would guess that many people in this area are "blue grass" fans? Anyone at the Holland Performing Arts Center last Sunday would obviously know that by the sell-out crowd for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell. This audience of mostly middle-aged adult couples were delighted as the night ended with an instantaneous standing ovation of all three levels of the Holland.
The light-hearted humor of the headliner Steve Martin as the master of ceremonies for the two-hour concert proved that his banjo playing is not just a hobby, but that he definitely can play with the best even demonstrating the differing styles of banjo playing.
The Steep Canyon Rangers were my surprise of the night. These phenomenal musicians won a Grammy for their album "Nobody Knows You" this year while previously being nominated in this category. In 2011, this group was voted the International Blue Grass Entertainers of the Year. They overwhelmingly succeeded in showing the audience that they unquestionably deserved these honors.
Woody Platt is the lead singer and guitarist for the Steep Canyon Rangers. His voice is strong and his harmonies bewitching while playing a "down home" style. He definitely is a singer that I hope to hear more from in the future. Graham Sharp also is a wonderful musician playing banjo most of the time and singing bass. Mike Guggino adds his harmonies and is a magical mandolin player. Charles R. Humphrey III plays a "mean" string bass which also provided much of the percussive sounds for many of the songs. Mike Ashworth joined the performers playing a variety of percussive instruments. Edie Brickell, known also as Paul Simon's wife, both has written some of the songs besides singing and harmonizing.
Nicky Sanders is the final member of this ensemble being a phenomenal fiddler. When he begins to play his fiddle, all his body is part of his fiddling. Whether walking in place, bending, stretching, to Nicky, fiddling is an entire body experience. (I really wonder if he could play without using his legs.) However, listening and watching Nicky Sanders let's everyone know that music for him is a complete and masterful experience. He literally becomes one with the instrument.
Also, the Steep Canyon Rangers are wonderful singers and instrumentalist. However, when these gentlemen sing without their instruments, their harmonies are clearly exposed in their acapella singing which is splendid and perfectly balanced as the singers surround one microphone.
Between the singing, the harmonies, the humor, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie Brickell created a magical night of good old “down home – honky tonk” blue grass music at the Holland.