Steve Martin To Plick And Pluck On Opry Stage

The comedian/actor/writer makes another debut Saturday — on the stage at the Grand Old Opry, as a banjo player. Host Jacki Lyden shares the story of how Martin made his banjo bones.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

From opera to the Opry, the Grand Ole Opry. Tonight an artist and his banjo debut on Nashville's iconic stage. The up-and-coming picker: Steve Martin. Yeah, it's that Steve Martin. The writer, comedian and all-around renaissance man will play a few songs from his first all-music album. It's called "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo," and it came out this spring.

If you didn't know that Steve Martin plays the banjo, then you didn't catch his early comedy shows or his interview with my colleague Melissa Block in February.

Mr. STEVE MARTIN (Comedian): The thing about the banjo is when you first hear it, it strikes many people as what's that? There's something very compelling about it to certain people, and to other people, I think it just, you know, it falls on deaf ears. But that's the way I was. That's the way a lot of banjo players and people who love the banjo are. They first hear it, it strikes them in some way at their core.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: Martin's been capturing a lot of ears this week. He's been picking everywhere from "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in LA to a museum in New York. Still for establishing banjo credentials, there's no place like the Grand Ole Opry.

Steve Martin will be hanging out tonight with friends Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Marty Stuart and John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He'll sing at least one song, about being late for school and grandma getting pie in the face, but mostly he'll just play. After all, night at the Opry.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: And for those who can't be there, if you want to hear his songs "The Crow" or "Late for School," check out our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

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