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Steve Martin brings banjo to MerleFest 2010

Article Published: Oct. 30, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Steve Martin brings banjo to MerleFest 2010

Actor/comedian/musician Steve Martin will bring his musical act to MerleFest 2010.

MerleFest will be wilder and crazier in 2010, with Grammy- and Emmy-winning actor/comedian/musician Steve Martin bringing his musical act to the Watson Stage on Saturday, May 1.

"I've heard great things about MerleFest for years," Martin said. "As a musician, it's an event I'm really looking forward to playing."

Martin is currently drawing rave reviews as he tours in support of his Rounder Records release, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, which spent multiple weeks at the top of the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart.

Touring with Martin are Asheville's Steep Canyon Rangers, who will perform with him at MerleFest. Together they have performed at the 20th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, The View, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Ryman Auditorium, and other venues in cities including Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, Toronto, Chicago, Denver, Santa Fe and Troy, N.Y. The tour will wrap up on Nov. 9 at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Martin is a three-time Grammy winner, the latest for his collaboration with Earl Scruggs on Foggy Mountain Breakdown (2001) and two for the comedy albums Wild and Crazy Guy (1978) and Let's Get Small (1977.)

After playing on the Grammy Award-winning Foggy Mountain Breakdown with Earl Scruggs, Martin began writing a string of new banjo songs, some with lyrics and some as instrumentals. An album 45 years in the making, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo features special vocal appearances by Mary Black, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton and instrumental guest spots by Earl Scruggs, John McEuen, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka. Martin wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album, which was recorded in Dublin, Hollywood, Nashville and New Jersey.

In support of the album Martin has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, American Idol's season finale, Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, CBS Early Show and Tavis Smiley.

MerleFest 2010 announced its talent line up last week, and at the time, festival director Ted Hagaman promised surprises and additions to the list. The award-winning SteelDrivers have also been confirmed and will perform on Thursday, April 29, and Friday, April 30.

So far, the 2010 lineup also includes Doc Watson, Richard Watson, Susana and Timmy Abell, Alberti Flea Circus, The Avett Brothers, Jim Avett, Balsam Range, Shana Banana, The Banknotes, Bearfoot, The Belleville Outfit, Roy Book Binder, Brave Combo, Buffalo Barfield, Sam Bush Band, Cadillac Sky, T. Michael Coleman, Elvis Costello, John Cowan Band, Dailey & Vincent, Dehlia Low, Donna the Buffalo, Jerry Douglas, The Duhks, Eleanor Ellis, Alice Gerrard, The Gibson Brothers, Great Big Sea, The Greencards, Buddy Greene, Mitch Greenhill, George Hamilton IV, John Hammond, Corey Harris, Wayne Henderson, David Holt, The InterACTive Theater of Jef, Phil Jamison, Jeni & Billy, The Kruger Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, The Lee Boys, Little Feat, Jeff Little, The Local Boys, The Lovell Sisters, Harry Manx, Bill Mathis, Andy May, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Nation Beat, The Neighbors, Ben Prestage, Missy Raines and The New Hip, Red Molly, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, Scythian, Anne and Pete Sibley, Joe Smothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tut Taylor, Happy Traum, The Travelin' McCourys, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, The Waybacks, Lightnin' Wells, Pete and Joan Wernick, Shannon Whitworth, The Wilders, Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society, Tony Williamson, W.P.A., Wylie and The Wild West, and Zephry Lightning Bolts.

MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and a celebration of "traditional plus" music. Scheduled for April 29 - May 2, 2010, the event is held on the campus of Wilkes Community college in Wilkesboro. An eclectic group of more than 75 artists performing on 15 stages will provide the "traditional plus" sound for which the festival is known.

The MerleFest box office will open for 2010 ticket sales on Tuesday, November 10, at 2 p.m. Ticket purchases can be made on the web at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. An early bird ticket discount is available through March 12, 2010.

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