Steep Canyon Rangers with Shannon Whitworth

DSC_0154“For anyone who thinks bluegrass is nothing more than a bunch of hillbillies making a terrible racket on washtubs and whiskey jugs, Steep Canyon Rangers are here to knock some cotton-pickin’ sense into ya. The five-man band—six, when actor Steve Martin sits in on banjo—has been reinventing bluegrass for the last decade. In the past year alone, SCR’s success has reached towering heights with two impressive honors: The International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Entertainers of the Year” award and an enthusiastic wag of First Dog Bo’s tail at the White House Fourth of July gala.”       –Nico Isaac, Paste Magazine

I booked Steep Canyon Rangers and Shannon Whitworth back in late April.  It was a risky move for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, they played at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center in May with Steven Martin and Edie Brickel, and I was worried that their return in August to Charleston would be too soon.  Secondly, neither Steve Martin nor Edie would be returning with them to the Music Hall.  However, after meeting the Rangers at a Garden & Gun back porch session and listening through their albums multiple times, I realized that this band was more than just Steve Martin’s “backing band.”  Woody Platt (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Graham Sharp (Banjo), Mike Guggino (Mandolin), Charles R. Humphrey III (Bass), and Nicky Sanders (Fiddle) are killer musicians who do not need Steve Martin to hold them in the spotlight, and they proved just that Thursday night, as 650 people came out to the Music Hall to hear them play.

DSC_0111The evening was made even more special with the addition of The Shannon Whitworth Band to the bill.  Shannon’s last play in Charleston was at the Dock Street Theatre, and I was very excited to have her at the Hall.  Shannon also happens to be Woody’s wife (lead guitar and vocals for SCR), and as it turns out my old camp counsellor!  I cannot believe I did not recognize her, as I was hanging her posters all over town last week or watching her videos, but when she stepped out of the bus, we looked at each other and it immediately hit both of us: Camp High Rocks. Shannon was the arts and crafts counsellor (man oh man did I make some awesome lanyards), and one of my favorite counsellors.  The world certainly is a small place, and it was great to reconnect after ten years.

The show itself went off without a hitch.  With the addition of Shannon, the show was turned into a co-bill, and she shined just as bright as the Rangers.  The Music Hall was made for bands such as these.  The sound was amazing, the sets were intimate, dancing ensued by the end of the night, and we could not have asked for a better evening.

What do I love most about music?  The way it brings people together, and the way it inspires and encourages community.  One of my main goals when I took over the music hall was to turn it into a living, breathing, communal space, and I feel like we are well on our way to creating a wonderful family.  The show Thursday night was particularly special.