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With Banjo Tour, Steve Martin Comes Full Circle


by Stephen Becker 24 Aug 2011

Steve Martin takes the Meyerson Symphony Center stage Thursday night – not only to tell jokes, but to play songs from his two banjo CDs. He spoke with us about being a true modern day Renaissance man.

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Steve Martin takes the Meyerson Symphony Center stage Thursday night – not only to tell jokes, but to play songs from his two banjo CDs. He spoke with us about being a true modern day Renaissance man:

  • KERA radio story:


  • Online version:

Steve Martin says that the banjo is such a happy instrument that you can’t play a sad song on it. But that hasn’t kept him from trying.

This year, Martin released his second bluegrass album, called Rare Bird Alert. He’s been touring the country with a band called Steep Canyon Rangers.

Martin took up the banjo before he became a star comedian in the early 70s.

MARTIN: “It was just like love at first sight as soon as I heard it. It was starting to appear on – there was a folk music craze in the 60s lead by the Kingston Trio, and I can just hear the banjo in the background. And it just attracted me. And then I started hearing people like Pete Segar and Earl Scruggs and I just went crazy for it.”

Martin has never been content to work in just one medium. He may be best known as an actor. But he’s also written novels and plays in addition to his music. His first album, 2009’s The Crow, won a Grammy for best bluegrass album.

MARTIN: “I have a lot of beginner’s luck. You know the first play I wrote was a success and is still on going … And the first screenplay I wrote alone, Roxanne, was a success. And the first music album I did was a success. And then you know it’s always necessary to do it again to prove it’s wasn’t beginners’ luck.”

Martin estimates about two-thirds of his current show is music. That still leaves room for a little silliness. He may not walk onstage with an arrow through his head anymore. But he’s not afraid to mix his current project with the comedy that made him a star.

After all, this frequently makes it into his shows:

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