On the Beat

Steve Martin is Tar Heel Blue on “Caroline”

Steve Martin, right, with Graham Sharp of the Steep Canyon Rangers. AP photo.
Steve Martin, right, with Graham Sharp of the Steep Canyon Rangers. AP photo.

Brevard bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers have a new album coming out this fall, cheekily titled “The Long-Awaited New Album” (Rounder Records), which will be their fourth accompanying longtime cohort Steve Martin. And the album’s lead single even has a shout-out of sorts to the Rangers’ origins in Chapel Hill.

It’s on “Caroline,” a first-person lament. Singing as an obsessively lovelorn breakup victim who can’t believe he’s been tossed aside, the banjo-playing comedian makes a most peculiar vow:

I’ll be looking for someone who wears her hair exactly like you and who swears a blue streak when the Tar Heels lose the quarter-finals.

You’d think that line would have been the work of one of the Rangers, who have been serious Tar Heel fans since forming at UNC-Chapel Hill in the late 1990s. But that line actually came from Martin himself.

“Steve does almost all the lyrics when we work together and that was one of his lines, although it definitely came out of our connection to Chapel Hill,” said Rangers banjo player Graham Sharp. “We’ve watched some ball games together, so it’s something we can chuckle about to ourselves when we play that one.

“But,” Sharp added, “the good news is, the Tar Heels did not lose in the quarterfinals this year!”

That is true! Chances are good that “Caroline” will be in the setlist when Martin and the Rangers play Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater on Sept. 30, as part of IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass. Meantime, take a listen above, or here.

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