The Steep Canyon Rangers announced the April 10 release of their Rounder Records solo band debut album, Nobody Knows You. With this 5th album, the band–Grammy nominees for ‘Best Bluegrass Album’ for 2011’s Rare Bird Alert collaboration with Steve Martin–takes a giant step forward as songwriters and performers who continue to redefine both traditional and progressive approaches to the genre. And with a 2012 schedule that features their most ambitious international theater, university and festival tour to date – including headlining the Winnipeg Festival in Winnipeg, Canada, the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California and the Rhythm and Roots Festival in Bristol, Tennessee – they remain the band bringing bluegrass to perhaps its biggest audience ever.
“The Steep Canyon Rangers, with whom I have had the great pleasure of touring and have shared the wonderful honor of IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award,” says Martin, “are not only great musicians who continue to explore both the new and old styles of bluegrass and bring a fresh energy to the traditions of American music, but they are also really fun on a bus.”
Nobody Knows You is the next level for the North Carolina quintet–Mike Guggino (mandolin/vocals), Charles Humphrey III (bass/vocals), Woody Platt (guitar/lead vocals), Nicky Sanders (fiddle/vocals) and Graham Sharp (banjo/vocals)–known for forging their own distinct path within a famously traditional genre. Having defied all notions of “déjà bluegrass” since their beginnings more than 12 years ago at UNC Chapel Hill, the new album–co-produced by the band and nine-time Grammy-winner Gary Paczosa–is fueled by deft musicianship, impeccable songwriting, distinctive vocals, and creative arrangements that eschew all formulas. “We’ve made enough records by now that if we can’t just follow what we want to do,” says Graham Sharp, who wrote seven of the album’s dozen songs, “then what’s the point of us doing it?” The result–which blasts out of the box with the album’s buoyantly mold-breaking title track–is the most adventurous and fully realized accomplishment Steep Canyon Rangers have achieved to date, and the record is poised to bring them to audiences beyond their already devoted bluegrass, folk, Americana, and jamband fanbase.
The band’s acclaimed 2010 album Deep in the Shade remained in Billboard’s Bluegrass Top 10 for 18 weeks. In March 2011, Rare Bird Alert – the band’s Grammy nominated collaborative and featuring special guest vocals from Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks – debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Chart and at #43 on the Billboard Top 200. Contributing key performances at festivals like MerleFest and Bonnaroo alongside Steve Martin throughout 2011, the Steep Canyon Rangers also performed alone as a quintet on stages such as Telluride, RockyGrass, and ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ with Garrison Keillor. Recent national and international television appearances by the band with Steve Martin include The View, Late Show With David Letterman, The Colbert Report, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Austin City Limits and Later With Jools Holland. The band and Steve Martin will be attending the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles on February 12th. Steep Canyon Rangers will celebrate the release of Nobody Knows You with CD release events in both Nashville and New York during the last week of March in preparation for the April 10th, 2012 release date.