The bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers has gone from playing at Still Water Tap Room on Broad Street four years ago to performing in Carnegie Hall, Ryman Auditorium and the Kennedy Center.
And that was in the past month alone.
The key to their enormous success in 2009 was their good fortune to cross paths with movie, TV and banjo-playing performer Steve Martin, which resulted in a recently finished tour for the North Carolina band in support of Mr. Martin.
The Steep Canyon Rangers will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Imperial Theatre for the Morris Museum of Art's Southern Soul & Song series.
With its original songs and lightning-fast playing, the group is one of the hottest bluegrass bands in America, with or without Mr. Martin.
The Rangers are Woody Platt (guitarist and lead vocalist), Charles R. Humphrey III (upright bass), Nicky Sanders (fiddle), Graham Sharp (banjo) and Mike Guggino (mandolin).
"This group can lope along, swing along and speed along with the best of the great historical bluegrass groups, but also innovate with solid musicianship and exciting new tunes," Mr. Martin writes in the notes for the Ranger's new CD, Deep in the Shade .
It was released Oct. 6. The Rangers performed that day with Mr. Martin on the ABC network talk show The View and that evening in Carnegie Hall.
"We're feeling very fortunate," said Mr. Platt in a call from Seattle. "Steve has done a ton for us, and he's great to be with."
Last May, Mr. Martin released his CD The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo .
He needed a band to tour in promotion of the CD, and selected the Rangers
"It was meant to be," Mr. Platt said. "He had his record out. We were getting ready to have our new CD out. The venues have been huge and packed and a nice change of pace of us."
There are no plans for future collaborations, but they can't be ruled out, according to Mr. Platt.
"We haven't talked about doing any new record together in any shape or form yet. But, on this tour we have been writing songs with Steve. So, yes,, there is a chance we might do some collaboration with him in the future."
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 39 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Steep Canyon Rangers
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.
COST: $22.50, $17.50, $12.50
LEARN MORE: imperialtheatre.com, (706) 722-8341