Aidin Vaziri | Steve Martin won over a few thousand new fans when he appeared on the main stage at last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival brandishing his five-string banjo. He’s a famous actor and comedian, sure, but who knew he had been playing the instrument since he was 17 years old? And that he was such a virtuoso? Martin, who is at work on a follow-up album to last year’s “The Crow,” is taking some time off his latest movie project for a quick summer tour with his backing band, the Steep Canyon Rangers.
Q: So you’re really serious about this whole music thing?
A: Yes. It turned out I am. I didn’t know it at the time. I started playing 45 years ago, and I played it seriously when I started. But I would play one or two songs at the most. The last couple of years, I started playing with the band, and it’s been going surprisingly well. Now we have a really good show that I really like to do. I get to use different parts of my brain. So my brain is younger, but my face keeps getting older.
Q: What do you have to offer the bluegrass genre?
A: What I’m bringing are new songs because I write all my own material. Another thing I’m bringing is an auxiliary benefit, which is access to television, which a lot of bluegrass performers don’t have. That’s been a big benefit for the music in general. I like people to know this isn’t hillbilly music.