S0UNDWAVES; EAT THIS CROW - YOU'LL LIKE IT.
Byline: ROB DEWALT
I was the product of two progressive hippie parents who, while sturdily grounded in the sounds of Jim Croce, Fleetwood Mac, and Cat Stevens, also managed to throw a little Frank Zappa, Kiss, and other oddities onto the home quadraphonic quad·ra·phon·ic also quad·ri·phon·ic
Of or for a four-channel sound system in which speakers are positioned at all four corners of the listening space, reproducing signals that are independent of each other. stereo system. With the possible exception of Kiss, most of the performers they listened to failed to make any deep impact on my life. Wait -- there's another exception.
Around the same time Kiss's Love Gun was released in the late '70s, a 30-something comedian from Waco, Texas, named Steve Martin was watching his debut album, Let's Get Small, grow in popularity. In 1978, the white-suit-wearing, balloon-animal-making Martin would win a Grammy Award (Best Comedy Album) for Let's Get Small. And at roughly the same time, I would be visiting the principal's office for repeating parts of Martin's recorded act, which I had heard at home, during class.
His humor may have been lost on my teachers, but Martin's banjo-inflected sing-along tune, "Grandmother's Song," garnered me enough attention among peers to earn my very first kiss. The ditty dit·ty
n. pl. dit·ties
A simple song.
[Middle English dite, a literary composition, from Old French dite, from Latin dict , like the innocent smooch, was as infectious as it was absurd. To quote the song: "Be tasteless, rude, and offensive, live in a swamp and be three-dimensional, put a live chicken in your underwear, get all excited and go to a yawning festival."
Years later, long after my second-grade romance had
fizzled due to opposing cultural and social interests (apparently, shooting chocolate milk out of your nose
onto the object of your affection is not a standard romantic ritual, even in elementary school), I arrived in Santa Fe. My numeric address on Upper Canyon Road isn't as important as its history: it was also the former residence of Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin. I'm thoroughly convinced that the term "small world" was originally carved into an ancient tree there. I'd look for it, but the chicken in my underwear takes up a lot of my free time.
Martin didn't live in Santa Fe long, but for the
past 45 years, he has carried on a love affair with the
instrument that helped take Let's Get Small to platinum status. A banjo banjo, stringed musical instrument, with a body resembling a tambourine. The banjo consists of a hoop over which a skin membrane is stretched; it has a long, often fretted neck and four to nine strings, which are plucked with a pick or the fingers. picker since his late teens, Martin studied numerous techniques, including three-finger picking and the five-finger "clawhammer" style, which requires Martin to use his fingernails to pick the strings in a downward motion, rather than upwardly tugging at them.
On his 2009 bluegrass bluegrass, any species of the large and widely distributed genus Poa, chiefly range and pasture grasses of economic importance in temperate and cool regions. In general, bluegrasses are perennial with fine-leaved foliage that is bluish green in some species. album, The Crow: New Songs
for the Five-String Banjo (Rounder Records), Martin is joined by a bevy bevy
a flock of birds. of music-industry heavies (Vince Gill, Dolly Parton par·ton
Any of the point particles believed to be a constituent of hadrons, now known as quarks. No longer in technical use.
[part(icle) + -on1.] , Irish folkstress Mary Black, banjo legend
Earl Scruggs, and John McEuen of Nitty nit 1
The egg or young of a parasitic insect, such as a louse.
[Middle English, from Old English hnitu. Gritty Dirt Band fame) in producing what he describes in the liner notes
as "the most expensive banjo album in the history of the universe and that includes possible alternate universes, too." Brimming with mournful mourn·ful
1. Feeling or expressing sorrow or grief; sorrowful.
2. Causing or suggesting sadness or melancholy: the mournful sound of a train whistle. and joyous folk tales,
The Crow finds Martin fine-tuning many of his early songwriting efforts, with a few recent creations and one bluegrass standard thrown in for good measure.
If you dive into this album expecting a toy chest of giggles and upbeat vocal narratives, you're going to be
disappointed. The Crow is steeped in bluegrass traditions,
not stand-up comedy ones. Silliness is replaced with
hillbilly-ness in this shrewd collection of mostly instrumental tracks.
Martin seems to live his life like an extended jazz number. He improvises based on his passions at any given moment, taking himself from Emmy-winning writerly writ·er·ly
Of, relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a writer: "set a standard of writerly craft for that...well-wrought magazine" Newsweek. duties on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late '60s to stand-up stand·up or stand-up
1. Standing erect; upright: a standup collar.
2. Taken, done, or used while standing: a standup supper; a standup bar. comedian; film and stage actor; filmmaker; playwright; memoirist; and Grammy-winning banjo player (2002). Given his early success as a funny man, I imagine that some folks who only know him as the guy who sang "King Tut" on Saturday Night Live This article is about the American television series. For the show related to Big Brother (UK), see Saturday Night Live (UK).
Saturday Night Live (SNL might meet Martin's lifelong process of reinvention with suspicion. But for
anyone wondering if it's ever too late
in life to change your tune, Martin --
and his banjo -- are inspiration in the flesh. See for yourself when Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers perform at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25, at
the Lensic Performing Arts Center A performing arts center, often abbreviated PAC, is a multi-use performance space that can be adapted for use by various types of the performing arts, including dance, music and theatre. ,
211 W. San Francisco St. Tickets, $49-$84, are available at the Lensic box office,
988-1234, and online at ticketssantafe.org. Now, go be three-dimensional.
-- Rob DeWalt