Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Good article on Steve and the banjo
Steve Martin in the banjo underground
Aug 16, 2009 04:30 AM
It's no surprise to his more devoted fans to see comedian/actor and playwright/novelist Steve Martin hitting the road at long last with his banjo.
A master of the three-finger picking style for which his mentor, banjo legend Earl Scruggs, is known, Martin began featuring the traditional folk instrument, albeit in a coy, self-deprecating way, in his comic routines 30 years ago.
But to anyone who was familiar with the five-string banjo, it was clear, even then, that the wild and crazy guy with the fake arrow through his head was a serious picker, just lacking confidence.
The banjo has never been far from his side throughout his long performing career. In dressing rooms, hotel suites, and on movie sets, one of his instruments — he owns three rare and valuable Gibson Florentine banjos — is always close at hand.
And banjo music has been a consuming passion for Martin since the folk boom years of the 1960s, he said in a phone interview this week from his home in Los Angeles. While others flocked to music stores to buy guitars, he was checking out the far more demanding — and not nearly as cool — banjo, and hunting down recordings of old-time Appalachian bluegrass bands.
"I just loved the sound of it from the first time I heard it," Martin said amid preparations for a tour that brings him — and sidekicks, the Steep Canyon Band, from North Carolina — to Roy Thomson Hall Oct. 15.
"Nothing else sounds like the banjo. It's the show-off instrument in bluegrass, both percussive and melodic, and capable of such an incredible range of emotions, from joy to melancholy."
Following up on the critical praise heaped on his recently released Rounder Records album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, comprising banjo-dominated bluegrass instrumentals and folksy ballads — most of them written by Martin — and encouraged by enthusiastic responses this summer to a couple of guest appearances at high-profile festivals and a handful of sold-out small-venue shows in New York and L.A., the famed comedian and movie star is reinventing himself as a banjo virtuoso, with concerts booked in coming weeks at Carnegie Hall, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.
"I'm playing live venues again for the first time in 30 years, now that the pressure is off," Martin said.
Though he has played continually for his own amusement, and occasionally picked up bluegrass recordings in record stores, Martin credits satellite radio for increasing his appetite for banjo music. "It was fantastic. I could just tune into the bluegrass channel and listen to music I'd never have been able to find any other place," he said.
But it was Scruggs' invitation six years ago to do a little picking on his Earl Scruggs and Friends album — featuring bluegrass, country music, pop and rock stars — and the success of his Grammy-winning version of the bluegrass staple "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," a duet with Martin, that got his strings really vibrating.
"A couple of years later (famed banjo master) Tony Trischka asked me to play on one of his sessions, and I figured there must be 500 pickers better than me," Martin continued. "I said I'd do it if I could bring something original to the table, a piece I'd written called 'The Crow.' That's really how this whole thing began."
"The Crow" actually became something of a cult hit — Martin's second, after his 1978 novelty breakout, "King Tut" — and since he had several other original songs lying around, some dating back to the 1960s, he decided to record them, with the help of long-time friend, banjo instructor and producer, John McEuen. Country, folk and bluegrass greats such as Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Jerry Douglas, Mary Black, David Amram, Stuart Duncan, Russ Barenberg, Trischka and Scruggs, also contributed.
Though The Crow was, he said, "motivated by idleness — just sitting around with nothing to do," he's more than pleased with the result.
"I'm very happy with the record. But I've been writing and playing so much since it was finished, and my chops are so much better. I wish I could do it all over again. And I've written five new songs that I wish we could have recorded as well."
Billed in the liner notes as "the most expensive banjo album in the history of the universe, and that includes possible alternative universes, too," The Crow is hard to dismiss as a movie star's vanity sideline project. The focus of the entire effort is on Martin's own compositions and smart finger work, and both stand up to the intense scrutiny of a really picky audience.
"The banjo culture might be underground, but it's vast," Martin said. "It extends to England, Ireland, Scotland, Czechoslovakia, even Switzerland – I'm just beginning to learn how deep and wide the banjo world is. In North America, banjo playing is like a contact sport, with contests all over the place."
Not that he interesting in competing. "I just want to stick with it," he added. "There are better pickers than me, and there always will be, and certainly better singers. But my audience seems to understand I'm serious about this — and I make it clear to them what they're in for — and I've had no difficulty getting them to come along for the ride."
Where the ride will take him, Martin doesn't care.
"It seems to be keeping Alzheimer's at bay," he said. "And that's a good thing."
Saturday, August 15, 2009
3 Articles about Steve Paying Tribute to John Hughes
movie news | Thu. 08 06. 2009 8:20 PM EDT
Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick, More Pay Tribute To John Hughes
'The man who spoke for geeks way before anyone else did,' writer/director Kevin Smith tweeted.
by Eric Ditzian
John Hughes in 1984 ( AP )
In the hours since legendary comedy writer and director John Hughes passed away at the age of 59 from a heart attack, tributes from actors who worked with him over his decades-long career have poured in.
"I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend John Hughes," Matthew Broderick, who starred in Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," said in a statement. "He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family."
Macaulay Culkin rose to fame in the Hughes-scripted blockbuster "Home Alone" and went on to appear in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" two years later. "I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person," Culkin said in a statement. "The world has lost not only a quintessential filmmaker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man."
In 1987, Steve Martin starred alongside John Candy in another of Hughes' writer/director projects, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." "He was such a great writer who created so many enduring characters for film, both as a director and a writer," Martin told CNN. "His real gift was in creating these identifiable characters."
"The script for 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' was the best script I had ever read," he added. "I asked John how long it took to write it, he said, 'I wrote it over the weekend.' The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do."
Jon Cryer, who played the memorable role of Duckie in 1986's "Pretty in Pink," said in a statement, "This is a horrible tragedy. He was an amazing man to work for and with. He respected young actors in a way that made you realize you had to step up your game because you were playing in the big leagues now. That's why he got such great performances out of his actors. My heart goes out to his wife Nancy and their children."
Tributes have come as well from directors and actors who never worked with Hughes but nonetheless were influenced by his work. "The flag's at half-mast," wrote Kevin Smith on his Twitter. "John Hughes, the man who spoke for geeks way before anyone else did."
"R.I.P. John Hughes," Rainn Wilson tweeted. " 'The Breakfast Club' was a revelation to my late teen-age years. You're my hero."
This report is from MTV News.
has nice gallery of photos
07 August 2009 08:11
STEVE MARTIN - STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO HUGHES
STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO HUGHES
STEVE MARTIN, MACAULAY CULKIN and MATTHEW BRODERICK are leading the tributes to director JOHN HUGHES, who died on Thursday (06Aug09).
Hughes passed away after suffering a heart attack while out walking in Manhattan, New York.
The father of two stepped away from the limelight in the 1990s but stars from the big screen have offered their fond memories of the director, whose career spanned back to the 1980s.
Broderick, who was directed by Hughes in the 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, was devastated to hear of his death and has sent his condolences to the moviemaker's grief-stricken relatives.
He says, "I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend John Hughes. He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family."
Actress Molly Ringwald, who starred in three of Hughes' hit movies - Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink - was equally shocked to hear of his sudden passing.
She adds, "I was stunned and incredibly sad to hear about the death of John Hughes. He was and will always be such an important part of my life. He will be missed - by me and by everyone that he has touched. My heart and all my thoughts are with his family now."
Veteran star Steve Martin, who worked with Hughes on 1987's Planes, Trains And Automobiles, remembers the director with affection: "John Hughes was a great director, but his gift was in screenwriting. He created deep and complex characters, rich in humanity and humour."
And former child star MACaulay Culkin, directed by Hughes in Uncle Buck and the Home Alone movies in the early 1990s, is adamant that the late film-maker's work will live on for decades to come.
He says, "I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person. The world has lost not only a quintessential filmmaker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man."
07 August 2009 08:11
The Marquee Blog Watch Showbiz Tonight on HLN at 11pm ET/PT « Back to Blog Main
August 6, 2009
Martin: Hughes’ script “best I ever read”
Posted: 07:35 PM ET
Here’s what we do in entertainment news when we get word someone famous dies:
1) Put out calls and e-mails to confirm what we are hearing
2) Gather all the related video and information about how they died and their body of work
3) Put out calls and e-mails to the publicists of those also-famous folks who may have known or have worked with the person who has died, to sort of put the reporting in larger perspective.
Usually, the publicist will return our official request with a short “statement” from the celebrity they represent. We get the star’s words as filtered through the media handler.
About an hour ago, the publicist for Steve Martin wanted to know if it would be alright if Steve called me personally to reply to my inquiry and share his recollections and thoughts. Now, I realize he wasn’t calling ME — Rachel — he was calling CNN, but suddenly don’t I feel special? “Steve Martin will be calling me himself!”, I bragged to my colleagues. “See if he’ll play the banjo for you,” someone said.
Then, came the call (number was blocked from caller ID of course), and I realized I was talking to a guy, who was rather shocked and saddened to hear that someone he really personally respected had passed on. At CNN we’re not only often the first to break the news on air, but sometimes we’re breaking news to those you wish you didn’t have to tell — famous and not.
I think Steve called personally because he wanted to know what I knew, or what CNN knew, about John Hughes’ death.
Here’s what he shared with me and what we’re reporting:
“He was such a great writer who created so many enduring characters for film, both as a director and a writer. His real gift was in creating these identifiable characters.”
“The script for ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ was the best script I had ever read. When I asked John how long it took to write it, he said, ‘I wrote it over the weekend’. The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do.” (Martin says the script for “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” still holds as the best script he has ever read and only film on which they worked together)
“He was funny from the start. You know he began his career writing for ‘National Lampoon’…. A piece called ‘My Vagina’. Very funny. Right from the beginning. If you haven’t read it, you should find it.”
Thanks, Steve. I just read it. He’s brilliant. Thanks for taking the time.
Posted by: CNN Entertainment Supervising Producer, Rachel Wells
Trailer review for Steve's new movie, It's Complicated
this site reviews trailers, not movies
By Eric Hughes
August 12, 2009
It's Complicated – Opens December 25th
If there's one thing that Nancy Meyers movies have in common, it's that they make a heck of a lot of money. The last three films she directed (The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want) earned more than $200 million in worldwide sales, including What Women Wants' monstrous $372 million.
For It's Complicated, slated for release on Christmas Day, the writer-director aligned some serious star power (Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin) to continue her stretch of successes into the next decade. Even John Krasinski, Hunter Parrish, Lake Bell and Rita Wilson scored smaller roles.
The trailer to It's Complicated doesn't impress me much. I actually didn't laugh much – if at all. Odd, I know, since this one's got peeps like Emmy winner Alec Baldwin. But I trust Meyers in delivering something worth seeing, since I generally take a liking to her finished products.
You can see the trailer here
This movie is going to be mainly streep and baldwin, with steve playing the nice guy who probably doesn't get the girl.
Article about Steve's love of the banjo
Globe and Mail/Arts
Steve Martin's love affair with the banjo
Steve Martin performs at Club Nokia on May 11, 2009 in Los Angeles.
Steve Martin performs at Club Nokia on May 11, 2009 in Los Angeles. Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
‘The banjo is the most undemanding thing in my life. It's always there for you'
From Thursday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 10:10AM EDT
“The banjo generated nostalgia for experiences I never had, joy I was yet to experience and melancholy that was yet to come.” – Steve Martin, on discovering the instrument as a teenager
But seriously folks, Steve Martin plays the banjo – seriously. The man who would go on to stick arrows in his head, star in The Jerk , write novels and plays and collect art was once a frustrated novice banjo player. Although the plinky five-string mountain-music thing confounded him – “it shouldn't even be playable, but it is” – he had the notion that if he just kept at it, the day would eventually come when he'd have been playing the banjo for 45 years.
Now, with this week's release of The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, a bluegrass album featuring his songs and his playing, Martin's earnestness pays off. The album's subtitle is deceiving – many of the songs are not new, but rerecorded versions of tunes from his 1981 comedy album The Steve Martin Brothers, which featured a complete side of banjo tracks recorded in the seventies.
The new CD, which reached the top of Billboard's bluegrass chart upon its January release on Amazon.com, is as much about Martin's relationship with the instrument as it is about the delightful and spry music. “The banjo is the most undemanding thing in my life,” says Martin from his Los Angeles home, which he shares with his dog and his second wife. “It's always there for you.”
Martin's rapport with the banjo is wryly explained in the generous liner notes that come with the CD. Song-by-song comments tell us that the title track, helped in its development by contemporary players Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka, instigated the new album. It was originally recorded for Trischka's Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular and it became a hit single (his first since the nutty King Tut 30 years earlier) on the bluegrass charts.
The booklet's introduction – which begins with “I have loved the banjo my whole life” – is heartfelt, and the song notes are illuminating. Because bluegrass banjo is not mainstream music, you wonder if the background material is included to give needed context to the songs. Not at all, explains Martin, 63. “I'm a writer, and I grew up with the tradition of liner notes. In the sixties, every album had them, especially the music I was listening to, folk and bluegrass music. Every song had a tradition.”
It was in the sixties that Martin, at 18, taught himself the banjo. Motivated by Earl Scruggs's rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, he would slow down banjo records on his turntable and pick out songs note-by-note, with the help of high-school chum and banjo player John McEuen. (A friend to this day, McEuen produced The Crow.) So as to not annoy his family or anyone else, Martin would practise in his car, parked on the street, with the windows rolled up even in the heat of the California summer.
People can hear Martin now, and although his celebrity will undoubtedly draw new fans to the bluegrass genre, he doesn't see himself as any sort of ambassador. “It's not my job to promote the banjo,” says Martin, the owner of a collection of vintage instruments, including two Depression-era Gibson Florentines and a Gibson Granada. “I'm just playing my music.”
Still, Martin knows that the project can only help create exposure for bluegrass – if not through the album itself, then through his talk-show appearances. “You don't really see five-string banjo on Letterman or Leno or Saturday Night Live,” he says. “I know, by the numbers, [the music is] reaching a lot more people this way.”
More people will be reached when Martin hits the road on a tour that stops in Toronto in October. The former standup comedian, who once padded routines by juggling kitties, twisting balloons and playing the banjo, will now feature his banjo music exclusively. “I'm just feeling my way around to get it to where it's easy and fun to do,” Martin says. “I'm trying to make this as fun as possible.”
Steve Martin plays Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 15; tickets on sale Aug. 21.
Steve's Banjo Tour Itinerary for 2009
Steve Martin and his banjo map fall tour
Published August 4, 2009 02:08 PM
By Tjames Madison / LiveDaily Contributor
Actor/comedian Steve Martin [ tickets ] will pack up his banjo for a rare concert tour this fall as he hits the road to support his chart-topping bluegrass album, which surfaced earlier this year.
Following a Sept. 9 appearance at the Grammy Salute to Country Music event in Nashville, Martin and his banjo will tackle a mix of headlining dates and festival appearances through early November, including an Oct. 6 concert at New York's Carnegie Hall and an Oct. 3 slot at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Dates are below.
Originally released exclusively through Amazon.com in late January, "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo" entered wider retail release via Rounder Records in May. The album currently sits atop Billboard's Top Bluegrass Albums chart.
Martin, a self-taught banjo player who has been performing with the instrument for decades, wrote all of the songs on the set, which features a mix of instrumentals and songs with traditional bluegrass vocals . A variety of guest performers make appearances on the album, including Mary Blak, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton, Early Scruggs, McEuen, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka.
Martin, who has released four comedy albums, previously showcased his banjo skills on the 1981 half-comedy, half-music release "The Steve Martin Brothers."
[Note: The following tour dates have been provided by artist and/or tour sources, who verify its accuracy as of the publication time of this story. Changes may occur before tickets go on sale. Check with official artist websites, ticketing sources and venues for late updates.]
tour dates and tickets
9 - Nashville, TN - Grammy Salute to Country Music
12 - Brevard, NC - Mountain Song Festival
29, 30 - Los Angeles, CA - Cafe Largo-Coronet Theater
1 - Nashville, TN - World of Bluegrass
3 - San Francisco, CA - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
6 - New York, NY - Carnegie Hall
7 - Boston, MA - Wang Center
9 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park Amphitheater
10 - Charlotte, NC - Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
11 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
12 - Washington, DC - Kennedy Center
14 - Montclair, NJ - Wellmont Theatre
15 - Toronto, Ontario - Roy Thomson Hall
19 - Philadelphia, PA - Verizon Theater
22 - Chicago, IL - Cadillac Palace Theatre
24 - Denver, CO - Paramount Theatre
27 - Dallas, TX - Meyerson Symphony Center
28 - Los Angeles, CA - Disney Hall
2 - Spokane, WA - Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox
3 - Seattle, WA - Benaroya Hall
Steve to appear in Charlotte NC
with excellent picture
Hottest Ticket: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
Comic legend Steve Martin will perform with the Steep Canyon Rangers in October in Charlotte, N.C.
From staff reports
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 10:24 p.m.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
Knight Theater in the N.C. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
430 S. Tryon St. Charlotte, N.C.
704-372-1000 or www.blumenthalcenter.org,
Show date: 8 p.m. Oct. 10
Tickets: $54; on sale at 10 a.m. Friday
Steve has 6 nominations for the International Bluegrass Awards
Dan Tyminski Band leads bluegrass awards nominations with 9, Steve Martin gets 6
By JOHN GEROME , Associated Press
Last update: August 13, 2009 - 11:52 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Dan Tyminski Band leads all nominees for the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards with nine nods.
Tyminski, a member of Alison Krauss' band Union Station, is nominated in categories including Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist and Song of the Year, the last for "Wheels."
The duo Dailey & Vincent has seven nominations and comedian-actor Steve Martin got six.
Martin burst onto the bluegrass scene this year with his first album.
The 20th annual awards will be presented Oct. 1 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The hosts will be Kathy Mattea and the band Hot Rize.