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Steep Canyon Rangers earn their keep one dime at a time

By David McPherson, October 2005

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The dozen songs were recorded in just four days at The Butcher Shoppe in Nashville with engineer David Ferguson, well known for his work with "Cowboy" Jack Clement and Johnny Cash among others.

"It was great," says Platt, of the recording sessions. "It was in a perfect little setting and hidden in a part of town you would never expect it to be...I'd definitely go back."

"We did it pretty much in a circle live," he continues. "We even sang most of the vocals going down...we did very little overdubs, and Mike was great in helping us do that because we told him how we were interested in recording, and he helped us find the right place to record, and he helped us find the right engineer that would be into more of a relaxed style of recording like that."

"A lot of people, if they're going to put their name on it, they want it to be extremely perfected. Mike did a lot of great things as producer, but I think the biggest thing was that he put us in the right place to record and gave us the opportunity to get it down. We had no idea. We just knew that we wanted someone to help us go to Nashville and do a record, and he just kind of led the way and we followed him into the studio."

One of the refreshing covers the Rangers tackle on their latest is The Band's classic, "Evangeline," a Robbie Robertson composition from "The Last Waltz."

"I credit that to our banjo player," Platt says. "He's a really big fan of The Band, and he brought that to the group and thought it would be a good waltz. We put double fiddles on it, and it turned out to be great ... it has a nice thick fiddle part on it. Jason Carter (of the Del McCoury Band) played with Nicky on there."

The Steep Canyon Rangers have been touring endlessly this past summer trying to gain new followers both in traditional and non-traditional bluegrass venues."We try to cross market a bunch with our band," Platt says. "We have done a bunch of non-traditional bluegrass venues this summer and a lot of clubs in certain towns and some non-traditional music festivals...some music festivals that aren't just bluegrass festivals. We try to hit all audiences."

"There are so many festivals in North Carolina, both traditional and non-traditional festivals, and there are a lot of young bands," he adds. "It took a while for us to get embraced in the traditional festival circuit in North Carolina, but over the past few years it has been happening."

According to Platt, one of the many highlights of the past year was the band's first show in Steeltown, USA.

"We did our first show in Pittsburgh this year and had a big crowd of about 4,000 people, and that was real exciting," he says. "It's just been great going to all these new places and meeting all these new people."

One wonders how this cross marketing has worked out for the Rangers?

"It seems to be going pretty well," Platt says. "We have been on a few bills where we are the only bluegrass band, and it's a nice diverse sound if you aren't hearing it all day, so when you hear a bluegrass band it can be refreshing."

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