Grammy award-winning progressive bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers performed for an all-ages crowd at Nashville’s City Winery recently, and I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing their impeccable musicianship first-hand. The collective, comprised of Woody Platt (guitar, lead vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin, vocals), Charles Humphrey (bass,vocals), Graham Sharp (banjo, vocals), Nicky Sanders (fiddle, vocals), and Michael Ashworth (percussion), is touring to support their latest album, Radio, which was released on August 28th via Rounder Records.
The band played old favorites and favorites-in-the-making from the new album; every member has vocal duties, and each selection features their amazing harmonies. Platt’s “velvety” voice is well-matched for and nicely showcased on songs like Blue Velvet Rain (see what I did there), while the members’ vocal contributions in tunes like “As I Go” intertwine perfectly, as if they were born to sing together.
The members’ mastery of their instruments is apparent, whether they’re jamming together or playing featured solos. There were times I could’ve sworn I saw smoke coming from Guggino’s strings; Sanders makes his fiddle sing as he skips and dances to the music, frequently engaging in call-and-answer parts with Guggino’s mandolin and Sharp’s banjo. Humphrey continually lays a solid foundation whether he’s plucking or bow-ing his bass, and Ashworth’s percussive prowess propels it all forward.
[These fantastic photos were provided by the incomparable Ryan Kanaly. You can see more of his genius on display at www.ryansmallhands.com.]