The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

by Steve Martin


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First off, there's no "King Tut" here, and this isn't Steve Martin with an arrow through his head using the five-string banjo as a prop and trying to be funny. The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo is exactly what the title says it is -- it's a banjo album, spotlighting Martin originals on the instrument (of the 16 tracks, all but one are his own compositions). And guess what? Martin is pretty good at the banjo, and this is no vanity project. Tracks like the stirring and revealing "Daddy Played the Banjo," the blisteringly kinetic "Hoedown at Alice's," the very pretty "Freddie's Lilt," and the expansive, even beautifully ornate "Calico Train" (there are two versions here) not only wouldn't seem out of place on any progressive bluegrass album, they'd probably be the best cuts on it. Martin has a lot of help, yes, from the likes of Mary Black, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs (Scruggs' presence here should tell you something about Martin's playing chops), Tony Trischka, and Pete Wernick, and the album is lovingly produced by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but make no mistake, this is completely Martin's album and it's his vision all the way. He even takes a very successful shot at frailing the banjo with the lovely and modal "Clawhammer Medley," the one non-original here. Everyone knows that Martin can be very funny, but The Crow isn't a joke. It's a first-class banjo album. One wonders if entering an archery tournament is next on this talented performer's agenda. Here's guessing Martin's probably pretty good at that, too.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/19/2009
Label: Rounder / Umgd
UPC: 0011661064720
catalogNumber: 610647
Rank: 27643

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Steve Martin   Primary Artist,Banjo,Vocals
Russ Barenberg   Guitar
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Earl Scruggs   Banjo
Tony Trischka   Banjo
Dolly Parton   Vocals
Pete Wernick   Banjo
Mary Black   Vocals
David Amram   Percussion,Wind Instruments
John McEuen   Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Electric Bass
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin
Vince Gill   Vocals
Kenny Malone   Percussion
Tim O'Brien   Vocals
Bruce Martin   Percussion,Tabla,Bodhran
Matt Flinner   Mandolin
Craig Eastman   Fiddle,Octave Violin
Liam Óg O'Floinn   uillean pipes,tin whistle,Drones
Chris Caswell   Piano,Accordion,Performing Ensemble
Skip Ward   Acoustic Bass
Brittany Haas   Fiddle
Michael Daves   Guitar
Hans Olson   Harmonica
Jourdan Urbach   Violin

Technical Credits

Steve Martin   Composer,Liner Notes
Pete Wernick   Composer
John McEuen   Producer,Audio Production
Dae Bennett   Engineer
Pat McMakin   Engineer
Salli Ratts   Artwork
George Tutko   Engineer
Michael Manning   Engineer
Ciaran Byrne   Engineer
Billy Robinson   Engineer
Rob Clark   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Travis Stefl   Engineer
Bill Harmon   Photo Courtesy
Johnnie Truesdale   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw Steve Martin on the 4th of July celebration on PBS in 2011. I was really impressed with his performance. I hope he does another CD with the music from that performance. Banjo music is not usually my favorite, but, for a change of pace, I am willing to get his bluegrass music CD's for my collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
progolfer1234 More than 1 year ago
This album included some very traditional sounding music as well as new arrangements. Very enjoyable listening experience. Lots of new ideas around old standard formats in arranging. Also, Maritn's humor is very appreciated in new tunes.
NGGIRL More than 1 year ago
Such a fun cd - recommend it to anyone who enjoys banjo and/or blue grass, country and rockabilly music. I was pleasantly surprised!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A rare treat for banjo lovers. Knowing it's by Steve Martin makes it more endearing. One could fear that it might be silly or not professional, but it ranks with the masters. There are levity, sobriety, stylistic changes, whatever you want. He has learned well from Scruggs, Fleck, Trischka, and others, primitive and modern. Mix and clarity are excellent, and the packaging is worth the surprisingly low price. If you're looking for Steve Martin the clown, buy his comedy albums. If you're looking for great pickin' and don't mind some whimsy thrown in, go for it.
Cathy-from-the-Midwest More than 1 year ago
My father is a HUGE bluegrass fan and, knowing my affection for Steve Martin, this past New Year's Eve weekend up at our family cabin, he shared with me how much he was enjoying this CD. Periodically throughout the weekend he'd quote random factoids from the liner notes, hum songs, and chat about the different artists involved in making what he described as "a really respectable Bluegrass Album". I quickly caught on that his person fave is 'If I Gave You Pretty Flowers" a love song for a couple married over 30 years (and in the case of my parents, 51+). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I purchased it on iTunes and ended up listening to it on the way home. I couldn't wait to tell Dad how right he was. From the lovely sentimental songs to the zippy tunes that make you tap your feet, to the emotionally rich notes that touch a gut, this CD has become my current guilty pleasure. If you are a banjo, bluegrass, or even Irish music fan this is a no-brainer. If your a Steve Martin fan, done and done. If you're just a gal from the Midwest who likes good music, seriously try it. You won't regret it. The only thing better would be a concert where Dad and I could laugh and listen together. Corny, I know. But you are after all reading a review by a person who actually is thrilled that she and her father got to see all the original Clancy Brothers perform before they all passed away.
razldazl More than 1 year ago
A tuly enjoyable performance by a truly multi-talented performer !
Dewey_Kleft More than 1 year ago
This is the first banjo album I ever bought. Happy to say it's not really bluegrass music, which usually bores me; this CD is a good collection of songs that should have a wide appeal. The sound quality is also very good. From a music standpoint, the songs are fairly serious and straight forward, with only one track where Martin gets to be goofy and funny. Seriously, I never thought I would spend my commuting time listening to banjo music, but I have always been a huge fan of Steve Martin's comedy albums, his movies, his novels, and even some plays he wrote. After seeing Martin on the American Idol final, I decided to give the banjo album a try. Is there anything this guy can't do?
LinMac More than 1 year ago
Steve Martin brings out more facets of his multi-talented self. We all know he does standup comedy, movies, writes books, and now he writes music and plays the banjo like a pro. I had seen him play banjo with Earl Scruggs on a PBS program once, but here is an entire album to enjoy.
Banjo-Sam More than 1 year ago
I knew he could play, but did not know how well. This is one of the best banjo albums I have ever heard. I have a new appreciation for Steve Martin as a performer...always have loved his comedy, but now combined with his musical ability, he's an even better performer. Some very poignant lyrics (Daddy Played the Banjo), and some musical numbers that if you close your eyes you can see the action (Wally on the Run) that must have inspired the arrangement. Great liner notes that round out the information on Steve Martin, and his cohorts in this wonderful project. I hope he plans more albums!
Pen1954 More than 1 year ago
Steve Martin is very talented with the banjo. I first remember hearing him play on TV with Glen Campbell and during the 70's he added some banjo picking music to one side of his stand up comedy routine albums. It would have been nice if they would have also added that work too, and made this a two cd editon.
norich717 More than 1 year ago
Out of curiosity..I picked this cd to add to my collection.I have to say I was very surprised at how the strings and harmonics were blended.What a great soothing and relaxing cd to kick back and enjoy.The way the banjos are orchestrated on the cd...the percussion is not even needed.Acoustically this is a great cd to have and to share with friends.The arrangement from song to song is refreshing to the ear.
LO353 More than 1 year ago
Was hoping for a little Orange Blossom Special/Foggy Mt Break Down stuff. Is ok but was hoping for more cause Steve Martin is such a great performer. I know banjo is hard and I'm glad to see him follow his dream.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think you really have to be a banjo fan to like this CD. I thought it was okay, but nothing I'd listen to repeatedly. Many of the songs have no lyrics, just banjo playing. I thought the song "Late for School" was kinda lame.
Marg113 More than 1 year ago
My sister requested this banjo album from Steve Martin. I didn't even know he had recorded his banjo music. Unfortunately it arrived late and she didn't get it until after her birthday. It didn't matter, she LOVED it and it has been in her cd player ever since - and that was in July. She let me listen to it and I was blown away by his musical talents. He really is an all around talent. Well done Steve!
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