NPR

Steve Martin: Wild And Crazy Banjo

With his first bluegrass album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, comedic genius Steve Martin reveals another side of his talent. One of the most successful stand-up comedians of the '70s — and a major movie star ever since — Martin is quite familiar with fame and sold-out performances. These days, though, he's capturing crowds not with his jokes, but with his banjo.

He exhibits complete command of the instrument on the album. According to Martin, "the banjo generated nostalgia for experiences I never had, joy I was yet to experience, and melancholy that was yet to come." This isn't to say that the tunes aren't full of playful, upbeat pop and bluegrass. The Crow also features the bluegrass group Steep Canyon Rangers, with whom Martin is currently touring. The quintet's flair for traditional bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues and country music complements Martin's songs nicely.

This segment originally ran Nov. 24, 2009.

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