The Steep Canyon Rangers | MUSIC: Homebrew | Indy Week
Pin It

The Steep Canyon Rangers 

Bill Monroe's home place is a little crossroads town in western Kentucky called Rosine. Its corners consist of a graveyard where the Father of Bluegrass is buried with his dog and his Uncle Pen, a gas station that serves up Blue Moon Cheeseburgers, and a barn that hosts the Rosine Jamboree every Friday night. Between recording sessions for their debut album, Old Dreams and New Dreams, The Steep Canyon Rangers sojourned there, played at the jamboree, visited Monroe's house and left their mark on it all.

Produced by original New Grass Revival maverick Curtis Burch, the album was recorded in nearby Barren County, Ky., on the same analog tape machine as ZZ Top's Eliminator LP. The album opens with a serene, starlit reverie during a tumultuous ride on a "Big Jet Airplane." The remaining tracks continue to incorporate modern themes with "newgrass" virtuosity, but with a definite deference to the genre's elder statesmen.

"Little Cabin Home on the Hill," the album's only cover song, follows Monroe's original formula and features Lizzie Hamilton and Burch on double fiddles. The rest of the tracks seem to orbit wistfully around Monroe's old cabin. "Summer's Gone" longs for a simpler time and place: "Barns hooked up to satellite dishes/Old trucks with cell phones keep me wishing/For a time in my mind so sweet and slow." Elsewhere, Graham Sharp's lyrics--especially on the title track--suggest the playful prudence of a John Prine record, and vocalist Woody Platt howls more like a honky-tonker than a nasally tenor. Old Dreams uniquely captures Monroe's high lonesome sound, eschewing electrification in favor of complex vocal harmonies.

To cut this record, The Steep Canyon Rangers went all the way to the cradle of bluegrass, but these young North Carolina pickers still hold fast to their string-music roots. The band pays homage to hometown tradition on the final cut, which recounts an evening that Sharp spent at the annual Bass Mountain Festival in southern Alamance County.

On Wed., March 28, The Rangers come back home for a CD release party at The Hideaway in Chapel Hill.

Latest in MUSIC: Homebrew

More by John Martin


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in MUSIC: Homebrew

Twitter Activity


I have "The Beauty of 23" and absolutely love it. Like most artists today, the lyrics for the cd were …

by lyriclooker on Glory Fountain (MUSIC: Homebrew)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I have "The Beauty of 23" and absolutely love it. Like most artists today, the lyrics for the cd were …

by lyriclooker on Glory Fountain (MUSIC: Homebrew)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation