BANJO MAN

Don't be late for bluegrass school

It's not unusual for an established comedian to deeply love a niche strain of music: Woody Allen's traditional NOLA jazz clarinet, Steve Allen's classical scores, Jack Benny's dry violin, Dave Chappelle's not-so-acerbic piano. And they tend to preserve these esoteric musical preferences by rigidly separating their musical lives from their stage presences; you'd far exceed your drink minimum before any of the above cracked a joke with their instrument in tow. Which makes Steve Martin the outsider in this multifaceted group: The brilliant actor, comedian, author, and all-around walking New Yorker billboard performs bluegrass banjo with genuine skill, and also pauses between songs to crack one-liners and share droll “That's showbiz" vignettes. Such is the agreeable, seamless world he shares; his set at the Bonnaroo Festival with North Carolina's acoustic Steep Canyon Rangers(his collaborators on March's Rare Bird Alert) was truly delightful and an educational intro to the world of their finger-picked fare. And, yes, he plays “King Tut."
Mon., March 14, 8 p.m., 2011

 
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