Steep Canyon Rangers gear up for multi-night run in Park City | ParkRecord.com
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Steep Canyon Rangers gear up for multi-night run in Park City

Creativity helped Grammy-winning bluegrass band survive COVID-19

Steep Canyon Rangers will return to Park City on Friday, Dec. 3, for a four-night run at the Egyptian Theatre. The Grammy-winning bluegrass band kept busy during the COVID-19 shutdown by releasing three albums.
Photo by Sandlin Gaither

The last time the Steep Canyon Rangers played in Park City was with the Utah Symphony in 2016 during the Deer Valley Music Festival.

Before that, the band — guitarist and vocalist Woody Platt, banjoist Graham Sharp, mandolinist Mike Guggino, fiddle player Nicky Sanders, drummer Mike Ashworth and bassist Barrett Smith — had played one-night stands with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Edie Brickell at Red Butte Garden and the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City.

Next week, the Grammy-winning bluegrass band will return to the Beehive State and play multiple nights, Dec. 2-5, at the Egyptian Theatre, and Platt is looking forward to the run.



“We’re looking forward to doing a residency in Park City,” Platt said. “We haven’t done more than two nights in a town before, so to be there for multiple nights will be quite fun. I think we’ll be a well-rested and relaxed band for each show. We have a lot of music to share, and there is something about a live performance that is in our DNA.”

Platt promised each night will feature a unique set list.



“There will be some songs that will make their way back into the show, but we will play a different show every night,” he said.

The Egyptian Theatre performances are the latest in the Steep Canyon Rangers’ venture back into performing live after taking 2020 off because of COVID-19, according to Platt.

“We truly enjoy every show we play live, and we certainly don’t take things for granted,” he said.

Platt remembers when the coronavirus disrupted the band’s 2020 tour.

“We were in Dublin with Steve Martin and Martin Short in March of 2020 when we were told to get home as fast as possible,” he said. “We evacuated, and we basically canceled roughly 115 shows.”

After a few months of sitting around, the band decided to get creative and set up some free drive-in and pod concerts, according to Platt.

“We got some sponsors and played shows where we pumped our sound to car stereos through a transmitter,” he said about the drive-in performances. “Later on, we did a couple of shows in the middle of fields, where people would be set up in little pods.”

As time went on, Steep Canyon Rangers looked at other options and decided to release three albums for Yep Roc Records that year.

“We happened to have the recordings in the can, so they gave us a way to keep pushing our music out and keep it flowing for our audiences,” Platt said.

One of the records turned into the Grammy-nominated “North Carolina Songbook,” which is a recording of the band’s live 2019 performance at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

The album features songs penned by North Carolina-based songwriters — Ola Belle Reed, Doc Watson, James Taylor and Ben E. King, according to Platt.

“Coming from North Carolina, we were exposed to musicians like Doc Watson, and others who we looked up to,” he said.

The second record, “Be Still Moses,” emerged out of a collaboration the Steep Canyon Rangers did with Grammy-winning vocal harmony group Boys II Men, and the Asheville Symphony.

The Steep Canyon Rangers released the original version of the title track on their 2007 breakout album “Lovin’ Pretty Women,” and the album features reimagined and symphonic versions of some of the band’s previously released songs, Platt said.

“The Boys II Men collaboration was also special, because they are such great singers and so popular when we were young,” he said. “We never saw the collaboration coming, but our producer had the idea. And I said, ‘If they are willing, we would love it.’ And they were.”

The third album The Steep Canyon Rangers released in 2020 was “Arm in Arm,” a full disc of original songs, Platt said.

“You can see, in spite of the COVID challenge of not being able to tour and work, we stayed quite busy,” he said with a laugh.

Keeping busy is something The Steep Canyon Rangers doesn’t take lightly, and the band’s work ethic has been strengthened by working with artists such as Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and Boys II Men, Platt said.

“Working with somebody like Steve allows us to learn how somebody at his celebrity level pays attention to every detail in his show, including how he interacts with his audiences,” he said. “We were able to play some really big shows with him, and that gave us a lot of confidence in how we could up our game.”

Platt’s first musical endeavor was in a boys choir, which taught him artistic discipline.

“It was something my family got me into, and I continued to do it on my own,” he said. “I also played a few different instruments in the school band, but it wasn’t until college when I got a guitar.”

The guitar opened more creative possibilities for Platt.

“That’s when I realized sitting around, strumming chords and singing songs really made me happy,” he said.

The Steep Canyon Rangers formed when the band members were in college, Platt said.

“I grew up with our drummer and mandolin player, and after we met our banjo and bass players, we started picking around just us friends,” he said. “The band was a hobby, and then it became a hobby gone wild.”

Steep Canyon Rangers

When: Dec. 2-5

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.

Phone: 855-745-SHOW

Web: parkcityshows.com and steepcanyon.com/home


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