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Steep Canyon Rangers

Steep Canyon Rangers – 2004 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Greg Milliken

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CDs by Steep Canyon Rangers

A word of caution: if you listen to this CD while driving, watch your speedometer very carefully. The Steep Canyon Rangers' blistering, self-titled third album will surely have your pedal to the metal.

The quartet from Chapel Hill, N.C. was nominated last year for the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year award and has been showcased at the Rockygrass and Bean Blossom festivals. With this, their Rebel debut, The Steep Canyon Rangers arrive as mature, exciting performers.

All but 1 of the 13 numbers are originals, with banjoist Graham Sharp contributing 8 strong, diverse offerings. The set opens with bassist Charles Humphrey III's scorcher, "Living In The Pane," and the pace slows down only for Sharp's nod to Dale Earnhardt, "Feelin' Just A Little Like Dale" and his gospel ballad "Going On." Mike Guggino's "Southwind" shows off the band's instrumental prowess, and Woody Platt's pleasant lead tenor is buoyed throughout by competent, hill-rooted harmonies.