When you think of Steve Martin, you likely think of him as an actor or comedian. Whether you're talking about movies like "The Jerk" or his legendary appearances as host of "Saturday Night Live," Martin is first and foremost known as the wild and crazy guy in his tour de force comedic performances.
But beyond that, Martin is also a director, producer, playwright, novelist and, most importantly for this story, a musician.
Specifically, he's a musician who is skilled with a banjo, having first picked up the instrument in his late teens before incorporating it into his comedic routine.
Since then Martin has earned a Grammy for his musical work, including the Best Bluegrass Album for 2009's "The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo." For the past three years he's also recorded and toured with the Steep Canyon Rangers.
"This band has been bringing it to the people for a long time, as have many other musicians, and I just like being a part of the whole thing," Martin told The Boot, an online country music magazine.
The Steep Canyon Rangers have released eight albums - including 2011's "Rare Bird Alert" with Martin - and include a bevy of multi-instrumentalists and songwriters.
In an interview with No Depression, Rangers guitarist Woody Platt said the band and Martin met in 2008 at a dinner party through Martin's wife, and the relationship quickly grew from friends to tourmates. Before releasing albums together, Steep Canyon Rangers were his touring band for "The Crow."
But in that same interview, Platt said the band is careful to avoid becoming "Steve Martin's band."
"We love touring with Steve, but we still need to tour on our own to help maintain our own identity as the Steep Canyon Rangers," said the guitarist.
He still described the relationship as hugely beneficial for both.
"The biggest benefit for us has been the exposure for our group through the live shows, written press and television," Platt explained.
Meanwhile, Martin praised the band for teaching him some of the simpler things about music that he had yet to grasp and for bringing the best out of his own work.
"I also realized that there is a language, a distinct musical language, in how we respond to each other and react to each other," Martin told The Boot, explaining his partnership with the Rangers.
Of course, Martin brings a little of his trademark comedic styling to the table when it comes to the concerts.
"I like doing that because it's what I do," Martin said, adding that the band wouldn't do that on its own. "When they work alone, they stick to their own style - they don't do jokes; it might be a disaster if they did."
By David Harper
Daily News correspondent