Steep Canyon Rangers return to Colorado for Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival

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:: Steep Canyon Rangers :: Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival :: February 18 :: 

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By Lisa Oshlo 

The Steep Canyon Rangers play to audiences worldwide and yet they always love returning to Colorado. The summertime bluegrass offerings here are well known, but it’s the smaller gems like the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival, now in its 22nd year, that hold a special place in every bluegrass afficionado’s heart and keep bands like North Carolina’s Steep Canyon Rangers coming back.

This will be the band’s third appearance at the festival; they share the bill this year with bands like The Dillards, Stairwell Sisters, and the Larry Stephenson Band, among many others.

Consisting of Woody Platt (guitar/lead vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin/harmony vocals), Charles Humphrey (bass/harmony vocals), Nicky Sanders (fiddle/harmony vocals), and Graham Sharp (banjo/lead and harmony vocals), the Steep Canyon Rangers have gained some momentum since being awarded the IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year award for 2006.

The Marquee caught up with Humphrey recently as he and his bandmates traversed the country, trying to keep up with the demand for their live show.

“We have a really busy schedule,” said Humphrey, referring to the 120-plus shows that the band plays on average in a year. “Every time we have a bit of success, it picks up our schedule, but we feel like we need to take advantage of the opportunity to play more when it presents itself.  And it’s just a great honor to be recognized by the bluegrass community,” he said.

Since winning the award in September, Steep Canyon Rangers have booked shows from as close as their native North Carolina-based Merlefest to as far as Ireland. And it’s not just the bluegrass crowds that are listening. While the Rangers’ music is clearly bluegrass at its roots, the attentive listener will also hear elements of honky tonk, blues, western, and swing. As a result, the band plays clubs, jam festivals and Americana festivals, in addition to being a mainstay on the traditional bluegrass circuit. “We do a little bit of everything,” said Humphrey.

The Steep Canyon Rangers recently finished recording their follow-up album to 2005’s wildly successful One Dime at a Time, the title track of which went to number one on Bluegrass Unlimited’s National Survey. The upcoming new album, still untitled as of press time, contains mostly original material, much like the previous three (2002’s Mr. Taylor’s New Home, 2004’s Steep Canyon Rangers, and 2005’s One Dime at a Time).

“We play original music in a traditional style,” said Humphrey. The band’s stellar songwriting (for which all the members take some credit) pieces together the present and the past and lays it all over music that can be both intense and melodic. The unique sound captures the imagination of both bluegrass stalwarts and the next generation of genre-bending fans. 

That flexibility allows the band to play a number of different venues and attract different types of fans. “We play a lot of different types of venues,” said Humphrey, “but we love Colorado.  There are lots of bluegrass lovers in Colorado, lots of pickin’, and lots of good bands. Any excuse to get to Colorado is a good one.” The Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival is just such an excuse. 

Located at the Northglenn Ramada Plaza just outside of metro Denver, the festival takes place from February 16th through the 18th.

 

:: Steep Canyon Rangers :: Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival :: February 18 ::

 

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