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GREAT PERFORMANCES: Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell

Airs Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell perform live at the historic Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, California, 2013. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell partner on a series of new songs that combine Martin’s inventive five-string banjo playing with Brickell’s heart-tugging vocals to create a playful and accessible collection of songs.

GREAT PERFORMANCES turns the spotlight on Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, featuring Edie Brickell, with their first-ever live concert performance to be broadcast on television. The evening captures their extraordinary performance at the historic Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, California last fall.

Courtesy of Saam Gabbay

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell perform live at the historic Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, California, 2013.

Courtesy of PBS

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell partner on a series of new songs that combine Martin’s inventive five-string banjo playing with Brickell’s heart-tugging vocals to create a playful and accessible collection of songs.

Give $108 during our TV Membership Campaign and receive the "Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers Live with Edie Brickell" CD & Blu-ray Disc or DVD combo. This gift also includes enrollment in the myKPBS Savers Club plus additional online access to more than 130,000 merchant offers and printable coupons, as well as a KPBS License Plate Frame (if you're a new member). A DVD or Blu-ray Disc only are available at $84.

The concert, which will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’s GREAT PERFORMANCES in March 2014, features material from Martin and Brickell’s Grammy-nominated album "Love Has Come for You" (the title song won in the “American Roots Song” category), as well as music from Martin’s Grammy-nominated collaboration with The Steep Canyon Rangers, "Rare Bird Alert," and his Grammy Award-winning album "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo." PBS viewers will be treated to an evening of unique entertainment with Martin’s blend of comedy and bluegrass.

Steve Martin is now in the fifth decade of a varied and accomplished career as a comic, actor, musician, author and playwright. Recently honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with a Governor’s Award special Oscar, he is also a Grammy-winning, boundary-pushing bluegrass banjoist and songwriter.

Edie Brickell initially burst onto the national scene in the late 1980s fronting the New Bohemians, and has since carved out an iconoclastic solo career that’s solidified her reputation as a uniquely compelling singer and a songwriter of rare insight. Although these new musical partners have already built widely-respected individual bodies of work, their inaugural collaboration is a creative milestone.

Backed by the virtuoso playing of the Steep Canyon Rangers, the songs on Martin and Brickell’s new album combine Martin’s inventive five-string banjo playing with Brickell’s heart-tugging vocals to create a playful and accessible collection of songs.

“This is the kind of music that I’ve always wanted to make, but I never knew how until now,” Brickell states, adding, “I just fell in love with all of these songs, because they all represent something that’s true.” The musical numbers, a mix of favorites from Martin’s last two albums with the Steep Canyon Rangers as well as new tunes previously unreleased, include deeply evocative songs such as “When You Get to Asheville,” “Remember Me This Way,” “Fighter,” as well as their double-Grammy nominated album’s title song, “Love Has Come for You.”

“I think that the goal of any collaboration should be to come up with something that each individual wouldn’t have come up with on their own, and I think that we’ve done that here,” says Martin. Each tune offers resonant character studies, conveying a wealth of imagery, emotion and musical ideas.

“The banjo can be so evocative when it’s used sparingly, and that was in the back of my mind as we were writing,” says Martin. “It’s the way I’ve longed to play and hear the banjo, rather than it being present at every moment. In these songs, the point is to tell the story and get out of the way.”

The Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers (Mike Ashworth, Mike Guggino, Charles R. Humphrey III, Woody Platt, Nicky Sanders, Graham Sharp) were Martin’s partners on his Grammy® nominated album "Rare Bird Alert" and they have toured together extensively. Martin’s debut album "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo" won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2009. Rounder Records released Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s inaugural duo effort “Love Has Come For You” last April.

"Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell" was directed by David Horn. Producer is Mitch Owgang. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

GREAT PERFORMANCES is on Facebook. Past episodes of GREAT PERFORMANCES are available for online viewing. Steve Martin is on Facebook, and you can follow @SteveMartinToGo on Twitter. Steep Canyon Rangers are on Facebook, and you can follow @SteepCanyon on Twitter. Edie Brickell is on Facebook.

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Great Performances: Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell Preview

Above: Comedy legend Steve Martin is now in the fifth decade of a varied and accomplished career as a comic, actor, author and playwright. He is also a Grammy-winning, boundary-pushing bluegrass banjoist and songwriter. GREAT PERFORMANCES turns the spotlight on Martin’s musical side with a concert performance of his new collaboration with Edie Brickell, who initially burst onto the national scene in the late 80s fronting the New Bohemians. Although these new musical partners have already built respected individual bodies of work, their inaugural effort is a charming departure, as well as a creative milestone. Backed by the virtuoso playing of the Steep Canyon Rangers, the duo partner on a series of new songs that combine Martin’s inventive five-string banjo playing with Brickell’s heart-tugging vocals to create a playful and accessible collection of songs.

Video

Live Performance of Grammy-Winning Song “Love Has Come For You”

Above: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s song “Love Has Come For You” won a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014. Watch them perform the title song from their 2013 bluegrass album, live with the Steep Canyon Rangers.

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"Sun's Gonna Shine" Live Performance

Above: “Sun’s Gonna Shine” is a collaboration between Steve Martin and Edie Brickell on the album, “Love Has Come For You” (2013).

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"The Crow" Performed Live

Above: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers perform ”The Crow,” the title of song of his album "The Crow: New Songs For The Five-String Banjo" that won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.

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Funny Banjo Players: Five Plucky Pairings of Comedy and Music

Above: GREAT PERFORMANCES takes a look at performers for whom comedy is not enough: more five-string banjo, please.