Want to catch glimpses of autumn color and hear some amazing music at the same time? Mark your calendar to head to the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax, Va., off the Blue Ridge Parkway to hear the Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11.
A perennial favorite at area music festivals including MerleFest and FloydFest, the boys from Brevard, N.C., were recently nominated for the 2014 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for the song “Graveyard Fields,” from the bluegrass band’s most recent album, “Tell The Ones I Love.”
According to WFDD’s David Ford, the band recently partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Bonesteel Films to protect Graveyard Fields, one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most treasured spots. Together they’ve created a public service video to help the foundation raise money to complete an improvement project at Graveyard Fields, located at parkway milepost 418 near Asheville and Brevard.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing two of the band members — mandolin player Mike Guggino and guitarist Woody Platt — at MerleFest 2014 as well as other festivals over the past few years.
Guggino, who counts among his major influencers Wentworth, N.C., resident and Danville native bluegrass guitar legend Tony Rice, says more people want to hear live music these days. “Artists tour more because people aren’t buying records,” he explains. “Even big acts aren’t selling records. The record industry is changing and CDs might not even exist in a few years. Live performances are where you make money and how you make a living as an artist.”
The band’s 2013 album, “Nobody Knows You,” won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. The previous year, their 2012 collaboration with banjo-picking comedian and actor Steve Martin, “Rare Bird Alert,” was nominated for the same award. The International Bluegrass Music Association awarded Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers Entertainer of the Year in 2011.