The Steep Canyon Rangers have been around since 2000, when the original members were students at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fourteen albums and three Grammys later, the bluegrass-based Rangers are still going strong, performing on their own and as the house band for Steve Martin and Martin Short.

Their new album, Morning Shift, will be released on September 8, and the band is headlining at the Blue Ridge Music Center this Saturday.

While bassist and vocalist Barrett Smith has known the band members since their Chapel Hill days, he officially joined the group in 2018. WFDD's Neal Charnoff spoke with Smith about how the band is faring more than two decades since its formation. 

Interview Highlights

On collaboration: 

"The band's been together there for 20-something years, you know, so it's quite an organism when it comes to making art and processing information. We have writers, you know, primary writers who bring songs either in a complete form or not at all complete. And so the process of refining that completed thing or building a song almost from scratch is something we've been doing for a long, long time."

On performing at the Blue Ridge Music Center:

"I think it's a beautiful, beautiful spot. Now, that's all independent of us, you can go there anytime and enjoy it. But when we're there, this is one of the very few places in the country that we've taken on as like, 'This is a home.' This is a homecoming for us, we do it every year — and it's special. 

On his advice for the newest Ranger, Aaron Burdett:

"The advice for Aaron ends up being, evidently, just be yourself. Because it works. And the band's as good as it's ever been right now. I mean, that's another reason for people to come out to the Blue Ridge Music Center. Just to see this band is always changing. You know, it's been lots of different things, and some people still think of Steep Canyon Rangers as being like a traditional bluegrass band that crowds around a microphone, a bunch of young guys. And it's not exactly that. We're not exactly young, for one thing!"

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.