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Reintroducing a seriously wild and crazy guy

October 5, 2009

Published by Metro

He ascended to fame in comedy with a fake arrow through his head, but Steve Martin is returning to the stage this fall with a different prop — a banjo

Steve Martin makes a compelling argument for the idea that performing music is easier than performing comedy. When telling jokes during his stand-up routines years ago, Martin made it a rule to never look at the crowd for fear of seeing glum stares rather than laughing faces.

“With music I can actually look out in the audience and see people with their eyes closed — not asleep, but nodding in time to the music, enjoying it, smiling,” he says. “And that’s really new to me to actually see the audience grooving. I’ve enjoyed that.”

Though he says one or two of his songs are “a little humorous,” the show is mostly about the music, not comedy.  “It’s real bluegrass,” says Martin of the concert, which he will play with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers.

“When I first heard the banjo, it touched me somewhere,” Martin explains. “I did find it melancholy, and I did find it romantic, and I did find it thrilling, actually.”

Well, Excuuuuse me!

Though the banjo endeavor may seem like an out-of-nowhere vanity project, Martin has actually been playing for years. In fact, he won a 2001 Grammy with fellow banjo player Earl Scruggs for their remake of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Earlier this year, Martin wrote and released his first purely musical album, “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo.”

And Martin promises he has no more career surprises planned; he says he’s spent some time wondering if he’s exhausted his repertoire.

“I don’t have a big adventure plan,” he says. “I’m not constantly looking for what’s next.”

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