June 27--Steve Martin knows life in music is no joke.
"When you record an album, you have to go on tour," the "Wild and Crazy" banjo-playing comic says. "So here we are."
That slice of professional life is bringing him and singer Edie Brickell to Heinz Hall, Downtown, on July 1 to promote their new album, "Love Has Come For You." With them will be the bluegrass quintet, the Steep Canyon Rangers, with which Martin started working in 2009 for a similar reason. He had his album, "The Crow," to promote.
"An agent said to me, 'If you have an album, you have to go on the road,' and I said, 'Good God, how do you do that?' and he said you put your own band together or find one that already exists," Martin says. "I told him I only knew of one band."
It was the Steep Canyon Rangers.
It would seem to make perfect sense for him and Brickell to sign the band on for the tour for "Love Has Come for You." The Rangers and some other guests were part of the recording.
It puts Brickell in a comfortable position, too.
"I just love being around good musicians," says Brickell, best known for her work with the New Bohemians and the Gaddabouts. "So, I feel right at home, but it has that extra dimension of comedy. It is very special and very different."
Brickell and Martin come to this jointure from different directions. Brickell, who is married to singer/pop icon Paul Simon, joined the folk-rock New Bohemians when she was about 20 and began to shape a career in that band's eclectic nature.
Life with the band and as a soloist lead to the Gaddabouts, which featured jazz drummer Steve Gadd.
Meanwhile, Martin started a life in comedy as a writer for the Smothers Brothers. He made his first stand-up appearance in 1969 and became a regular part of "Saturday Night Live" at its heyday, creating a "Wild and Crazy" Czechoslovak playboy. He also showed an inclination to music then with the comic-dance song, "King Tut."
But he had been playing banjo since his teens, and it was virtually always part of his comedy tours. He even used it on his first album in 1981.
When he recorded "The Crow" and went on tour with the Steep Canyon Rangers, doing a blend of comedy and music seemed natural. Adding Brickell to this act gives the show a new look, he says, as well as giving it new music.
They wrote eight songs together for the new album that will be featured in the show.
But he says they all are constantly analyzing the shows to make sure any particular blend of comedy and music is appropriate. Before a recent concert in Telluride, Colo., for instance, Martin says he believed that particular show would draw "a younger audience and more music-oriented," meaning they cut down the amount of comedy that night.
"It's a 10 o'clock show, so it's late, too," he says. "Well, late for me anyway."
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.
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