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Steep Canyon Rangers gear up for their homecoming show

Learn how our area influenced the band’s newest album, from where it was recorded to the history woven into the songwriting.

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Catch the band at Salvage Station next Friday.

Photo via Steep Canyon Rangers

The Grammy award-winning Asheville- and Brevard-based bluegrass band, Steep Canyon Rangers, are on the road for their spring and summer tour. Since the band is set to take the Asheville stage next week, we caught up with banjoist and vocalist Graham Sharp, and guitarist, bassist, and vocalist Barrett Smith, to talk about their latest record.

While a lot has changed in the 20+ years of the band’s existence, a sense of place has always been a core element of the songwriting process. The band’s 14th album, “Morning Shift,” was recorded in Bat Cave, NC at the Hickory Nut Gap Inn in just five days, and Smith says it’s a product of the place. “The cover of the album is that place, and it couldn’t have been any other way.”

Sharp details the history of his own neighborhood on the album’s opening track, “Hominy Valley.” It’s a story he’s been eager to tell, but new development was the spark needed to finish the song. And “Recommend Me” was inspired by local author Wiley Cash’s novel, “When Ghosts Come Home.”

Throughout the band’s career, they’ve constantly been evaluating their relationship with bluegrass music, and this new record has some variety in its sound. Smith shares, “Just like Asheville changed and our lives changed, the band changed and loosened its grip on some of those traditional things and brought in new instrumentations, new structures of songs, and the whole thing just broadened.”

On Friday, June 7, Steep Canyon Rangers will take the stage at Salvage Station, one of the band’s favorite venues to play. “To stand on the stage at the Salvage Station and look out at that crowd and see so many people that we love, interspersed with people that we would love if we knew them,” says Smith. “It’s the best. It’s a homecoming.”

Grab tickets to see the band play with support from Holler Choir.