Bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers has had an interesting past few months. They performed with Boyz II Men in October 2019 and played on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Jan. 29.
But the group began with a simple start 20 years ago.
“It’s a band that’s kind of grown up together. … The band started with a few members in college, at the University of North Carolina, with a common interest in traditional bluegrass, at the time, is what brought the band together,” said Barrett Smith, the band’s bass player.
The band will be playing at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1002 Sam Nixon Drive in Pocatello. Tickets can be purchased at isu.edu/tickets/.
“When we started, it was very passionately traditional bluegrass,” Smith said. Some of their influences were Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Bill Monroe.
“Now the interests have changed a little bit, so now we kind of branch out and do different kinds of music now.”
Steep Canyon Rangers as evolved to become “a bluegrass based Americana band,” whose sound also changes depending on who they are playing with.
Sometimes the band performs with comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin, and when they do so, they are primarily playing Martin’s music. For their Pocatello performance, Steep Canyon Rangers will be playing without Martin. So their sound will be their own.
The audience “can expect (us) to be a band who is pushing the boundaries of what bluegrass is and what it’s becoming,” Smith said.
“We kind of see ourselves at the forefront of the inevitable evolution of bluegrass, in that it’s mixing with other genres and other styles. And we have so many other musical instruments.”
The Pocatello performance will be comprised of old and new songs. Steep Canyon Rangers are in the process of finishing recording a new album, “so we will be featuring songs from throughout the catalog, but we will also be featuring new, fresh songs that we’re really excited about.”
Their most recent album is from a live show in North Carolina when the band was commissioned to play only songs from famous North Carolina songwriters, such as James Taylor.
However, as Smith said: “A typical Steep Canyon Rangers show might have one cover in it. Rarely more than one, typically. We pride ourselves on original music.”
Because of this focus on originality, the audience in Pocatello will have the opportunity to be introduced to unfamiliar bluegrass tunes.
For more information about the band and to purchase their music, visit steepcanyon.com/.