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The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

Steve Martin

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Album Review

First off, there's no "King Tut" here, and this isn't Steve Martin with an arrow through his head using the five-string banjo as a prop and trying to be funny. The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo is exactly what the title says it is — it's a banjo album, spotlighting Martin originals on the instrument (of the 16 tracks, all but one are his own compositions). And guess what? Martin is pretty good at the banjo, and this is no vanity project. Tracks like the stirring and revealing "Daddy Played the Banjo," the blisteringly kinetic "Hoedown at Alice's," the very pretty "Freddie's Lilt," and the expansive, even beautifully ornate "Calico Train" (there are two versions here) not only wouldn't seem out of place on any progressive bluegrass album, they'd probably be the best cuts on it. Martin has a lot of help, yes, from the likes of Mary Black, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs (Scruggs' presence here should tell you something about Martin's playing chops), Tony Trischka, and Pete Wernick, and the album is lovingly produced by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but make no mistake, this is completely Martin's album and it's his vision all the way. He even takes a very successful shot at frailing the banjo with the lovely and modal "Clawhammer Medley," the one non-original here. Everyone knows that Martin can be very funny, but The Crow isn't a joke. It's a first-class banjo album. One wonders if entering an archery tournament is next on this talented performer's agenda. Here's guessing Martin's probably pretty good at that, too.

Customer Reviews

A great addition to any music collection

What a wonderful listening experience. Just sit back, close your eyes, turn up the volume and enjoy being transported to the back country of the Appalachians. The track arrangement is great when listened to in order. They grab your attention with the first few tracks and then slow you down a bit. Next come some small hills to traverse and then you finally reach the climatic ending. You'll enjoy the trip so much that you will immediately want to repeat the journey. Thank you Steve.

Just won the International Bluegrass Associations top prize!

on Sept. 30, Steve was awarded this in my second home of Nashville, TN. He deserved it. And,btw, Martin was a banjo picker long before he was a comedian. He's been doing it for 50 years, so I wasn't surprised by how good his chops are, but I was surprised by the quality of his music. These are great SONGS, written with love and care, not some "greatest hits" amalgamation from a bunch of other writers to give to the "star" as a "vanity project" like the iTunes official review says.

This is heartfelt stuff. Even if you don't like "bluegrass" (or think you don't), listen to this without distraction, let it wash over and through you. It will grab your soul and your heart at their most primal roots. This is for real. Life's too short to not be moved by music this good.

Congrats, Steve, and thank you for a great record!


I saw Steve Martin perform on 'Good Morning America' a few weeks ago and could not believe that this was the same man who is Steve Martin the actor/comic - This is one of the best bluegrass/hand clapping piece of mountain music that has comer along in a long time - looking forward to the next album and this is a 5 star+ rating -


Genre: Comedy

During the 1970s, Steve Martin was the most successful standup comedian in America, earning the level of commercial success — sold-out arena performances, platinum records, hit singles, and delirious fan adulation — usually reserved for rock stars. Although his career went on to encompass stints as an acclaimed dramatic actor and playwright, for...
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The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, Steve Martin
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Customer Ratings