The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

( 22 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/19/2009
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • UPC: 011661064720
  • Catalog Number: 610647
  • Sales rank: 7,414

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Daddy Played the Banjo (3:19)
  2. 2 Pitkin County Turnaround (2:26)
  3. 3 Hoedown at Alice's (3:13)
  4. 4 Late for School (3:47)
  5. 5 Tin Roof (2:18)
  6. 6 Words Unspoken (2:54)
  7. 7 Pretty Flowers (2:42)
  8. 8 Wally on the Run (1:37)
  9. 9 Freddie's Lilt (2:55)
  10. 10 Saga of the Old West (3:23)
  11. 11 Clawhammer Medley (2:16)
  12. 12 Calico Train (4:47)
  13. 13 Banana Banjo (2:16)
  14. 14 Blue River Waltz (2:18)
  15. 15 The Crow (3:25)
  16. 16 Calico Train (3:10)
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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
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2011

    Want to check this out

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    "Wild & Crazy Banjo"

    Such a fun cd - recommend it to anyone who enjoys banjo and/or blue grass, country and rockabilly music. I was pleasantly surprised!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    "Truly Wonderful and Just As Advertised"

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    terrific bluegrass sound with new material

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Another View of Steve Martin

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Great birthday present!

    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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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not outstanding but glad I bought it

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Steve Martim "The Crow"

    A tuly enjoyable performance by a truly multi-talented performer !

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the best

    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!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Pretty Good

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wild but not Crazy

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Mildly surprising

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great music, should appeal to everyone, not just bluegrass fans.

    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?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews