Trail Mix – Steep Canyon Rangers

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Steep Canyon Rangers host the tenth annual Mountain Song Festival this weekend.

The Steep Canyon Rangers have come a long way since the first time I saw them at The Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville in 2003. Over the ensuing twelve years, the band has gone on to win a Grammy Award and a host of IBMA awards while garnering critical acclaim for both their own recordings and live performances and the work they have done with comic legend (and wicked good banjoist) Steve Martin.

Fresh off the release of Radio, which the band celebrated with a rousing show at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, Tennessee, the Steep Canyon Rangers are poised to host the tenth edition of their very own Mountain Song Festival in Brevard, North Carolina, this weekend.

I recently chatted with guitarist and lead singer Woody Platt about the new record  and this weekend’s festivities.

BRO – You just released Radio, your newest record. What did it mean to you to have the release party in Bristol, a city well known for its musical history?

WP – With Bristol being the birthplace of country music, and with the addition of Tony Lawson and WBCM, it was a natural fit. There is so much great musical history there, starting with the Bristol Sessions. We were honored to release Radio in Bristol. The audience was wonderful!

BRO – This marks the tenth anniversary of your Mountain Song Festival. What do you know now that you wish you had known in year one?

WP – That it really makes sense to hire someone to clean the bathrooms after the festival instead of doing it ourselves! But seriously, having a great team and plenty of volunteers makes the festival run so much more efficiently.

BRO – In five words or less, finish this statement – “The best part of hosting a music festival is . . . “

WP –  . . . . bringing a community together for a great cause.

BRO – Any performances over the first nine years that really stick out in your memory?

WP – Doc Watson playing to a full house as the headliner of our first festival. Also, Steve Martin coming out as a total surprise guest at the fourth Mountain Song Festival. That was the first time we played with Steve and the audience went nuts!

BRO – Come Sunday evening, what will be your measuring stick for the success of Mountain Song?

WP – We always hope to raise as much money as we can for the Cindy Platt Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County. If we can break the $500,000 mark this year, it will feel like a huge success. But just having three days of great music in our wonderful small mountain community will be a success in itself.

The tenth annual Mountain Song Festival kicks off on Friday, September 11th, and the line up includes Del McCoury Band, Ricky Skaggs, Larry Keel, and more. For information and times, please check out the festival’s website.

And if you would like to win a pair of lawn seats for the weekend, you have come to the right place! Take a shot at the trivia question down below and email your answer to A winner of two passes to Mountain Song will be chosen from all of the correct responses received by 2:00 P.M. tomorrow (Wednesday, September 9th). Remember – please email your responses. Don’t post answers don’t below in the comments section. That’s no fun for anyone!

While you wait to find out if you have won, make sure to take a listen to “Radio” on this month’s Trail Mix and to check out the band’s website for more information on how to get your copy of the new record or when the band might take to a stage near you.

Question . . . . The Steep Canyon Rangers formed on the campus of what university?

Good luck!


Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

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