Earned Their Merit Badges

One Dime at a Time (Rebel Records)
Steep Canyon Rangers

By Bob Mitchell

On October 1, 2003, The Steep Canyon Rangers stepped onto the IBMA showcase stage with a level of energy and professionalism that grabbed everyoneís attention. My review of their sophomore release, Mr. Taylorís New Home, (April 2004 LMN) said, "SCR is a talented group with a bright future. They are a hard working band with roots firmly planted in traditional country and bluegrass music." That assessment is still true and the bandís newest release presents a mature band and a wide range of songs guaranteed to give hours and hours of listening pleasure.

Graham Sharp, banjoist and prolific songwriter, demonstrates an unusual talent with lyrics on seven of twelve tracks. "Waiting To You Hear You Call My Name," "Slow Burn," "Iíll Be Long Gone," and "Hold On" are especially fine examples of his skill. Charles Humphrey, in addition to providing his rock solid bass, also contributes two originals.

"Restless Nights" deals with the familiar theme of lost love but itís "Ghost Of Norma Jean" that tugs at the heart. "Ghost," the sequel to "Norma Jean," is the heartbreaking story of a man who loses a loved one in an automobile accident but joins her twenty years later when he also dies in an automobile accident. Woody Plattís solid guitar work and lead vocals drive the project from start to finish. His work on "Iíll Be Long Gone," the title track, "Hold On" and "Waiting To You Hear You Call My Name" are first-rate. The only instrumental, "Big Cypoohus," also penned by Graham, is a showcase for his commendable banjo playing, Mike Gugginoís powerful mandolin chops and Nicky Sanderís smooth fiddle. Sanders also excels on "Slow Burn." Guggino takes the lead vocal on an a capella cover for Wade Mainerís "I Canít Sit Down." Harmonies are consistently tight but no more so than on this gospel number. (Reviewerís note: Mainer is 90-plus years old and still going strong. After watching a video of a 2004 performance, I phoned him last month to thank him for his numerous contributions to our music. When Wade answered the phone, heíd just come in from working in his garden! Iím sure heíd be proud of this arrangement.)

For more information: www.steepcanyon.com or www.rebelrecords.com