As the youth movement in bluegrass rolls on, more and more bands will probably start to sound like Chapel Hill, N.C.’s Steep Canyon Rangers. While their music is firmly rooted in traditional bluegrass, their style flirts with honky-tonk country and energetic roots-rock.
One of the main reasons the band is widely accepted beyond the bluegrass circuit is their almost exclusive focus on new, original material instead of playing old time standards and other classics of more recent vintage.
Blue Highway proved it was okay to write and record new, original material that pushed the boundaries of what bluegrass was - as long as they were good songs.
Steep Canyon Rangers don’t have a problem with the quality of their songwriting, but it is the instrumentals played at dizzying speed, like, “Big Cypoophus,” that keep the jam-band crowd coming back for more.
They may not play the classics, but the Steep Canyon Rangers may be producing a few songs that will be considered bluegrass classics in the future.