Steep Canyon Rangers

Americana, Bluegrass

The Steep Canyon Rangers are a North Carolina institution. Formed by a group of friends that met as students at UNC-Chapel Hill, they’ve spent the last 20 years honing their craft and building a global audience. They are known for their songs, their high energy performances and their heartfelt connection to bluegrass and traditional music of their home state.

The Steep Canyon Rangers are Graham Sharp on banjo and vocals, Mike Guggino on mandolin/mandola and vocals, Aaron Burdett on guitar and vocals, Nicky Sanders on fiddle and vocals, Mike Ashworth on drums and vocals, and Barrett Smith on bass, guitar, and vocals

The Steep Canyon Rangers are regular performers with actor and banjo player Steve Martin. The pairing were named IBMA Entertainer of the Year in 2011. Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers helped sell out the Red Hat Amphitheater at the 2013 World of Bluegrass in Raleigh.

PineCone commissioned the Steep Canyon Rangers to be a part of the virtual festival in 2020. They drove down to Raleigh and performed for the cameras on the rooftop of The Dillon, overlooking the Red Hat Amphitheater. “We were supposed to be playing over there,” said Woody Platt pointing to the vacant amphitheater nine stories below.

“It’s not quite the same when you can’t hang out in elevators playing Jimmy Martin songs until 4 in the morning,” said Graham Sharp to the audience watching the virtual festival in 2020. “To everyone out there keeping the music alive in their kitchens, out in the parks, it’s been a real joy playing for you.”

The Steep Canyon Rangers were full of hustle working their way out of the pandemic. They were one of the first bands in North Carolina to produce large scale drive-in parking lot concerts. It was an experiment and helped keep live music happening through quarantine.

The band returned to Raleigh in 2021 for IBMA World of Bluegrass! Powered by PNC. “We are so thrilled to be here on the Red Hat with you at IBMA,” said Graham Sharp to the audience. “We’re so proud to be up here on this stage.” It was a rousing set just after sunset on what was one of the best weather nights the festival has seen since moving to Raleigh.

“Thank you to PineCone, we’re honored to be a part of it,” said Woody Platt at one of the last sets he played with the Steep Canyon Rangers at IBMA in Raleigh. Woody retired from the band at the end of 2022. Shortly after Woody’s departure Aaron Burdett joined the band. At the time the band said in a statement, “…we were all struck by the honesty and power of (Aaron’s) music. He arrives as an exceptional North Carolina artist in his own right, and our connection feels fresh and familiar at the same time. His talent as a singer and songwriter is already pushing the band to new heights.”