by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
It’s been 40 years since Steve Martin made his first appearance in Grand Rapids as a stand-up comic. Sunday evening, at the fastest ever sold-out performance of the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert Series, Martin returned to perform live before his adoring fans.
This time around he appeared as a masterful banjo player performing with the Steep Canyon Rangers in an evening of “Bluegrass and Banjo.”
Martin’s album “The Crow” won him a Grammy award two years ago for Best Bluegrass Album along with banjo player of the year. This past March, the Steep Canyon Rangers, in a first ever collaboration with Steve Martin, released “Rare Bird Alert,” which debuted at number one on Billboard’s Bluegrass Chart.
Sunday evening’s performance rewarded the wildly appreciative crowd with smooth vocals, smart songwriting, and ferocious instrumentals with jaw-dropping harmony during the hour and 45-minute concert. Between each song Martin, ever the comic, had the audience doubled over in laughter with his edgy comedic repartee.
We don’t think we’ve ever seen a bluegrass performance where the all the musicians were attired in suits. Martin was resplendent, as he fronted the band in shocking blue. You had to be there to appreciate what was probably, in our humble opinion, one of the finest evenings of music in the history of the Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Outdoor Summer Concert Series.