Many a great tune has been inspired by a more long-form literary work—Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, and Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights,” to name just a few. Now, North Carolina’s Steep Canyon Rangers are the latest to add their names to that list with “Recommend Me,” their latest single from an upcoming album entitled Morning Shift.
The song’s co-writer and lead vocalist, Rangers’ banjo man Graham Sharp, remembers its origins clearly: “My friend Wiley Cash wrote a wonderful book called When Ghosts Come Home. He sent me a copy of it and asked if there were any songs that I might find in the story.” Luckily, Sharp and co-conspirator (and newest Steep Canyon Ranger) Aaron Burdett chiseled out a tender, album-closing song inspired by When Ghosts Come Home’s father-daughter relationship. With Sharp on guitar instead of his usual 5-string banjo, “Recommend Me” evolves from a finger-picked solo piece to a full, classic-Rangers sound; the refrain a charming reassurance from once character to the other. “When they start talking you'll defend me / When the roll is called you'll recommend me.”
“Recommend Me” is the latest single from Steep Canyon Rangers’ upcoming album, Morning Shift—due out September 8th on Yep Roc Records. Produced by the distinguished Darrell Scott and engineered by the legendary Dave Sinko, Morning Shift found the Rangers recording their 14th studio album in Bat Cave, North Carolina, at the Inn Bat Cave, a historical refuge settled near a long-forgotten crossroads of Southern Appalachia. This was the perfect space to feel confident in expanding upon that Carolina sound, the perfect runway to let their well-oiled machine do what it does best- craft stories from the ground up, as a unit. “It was like going to recording camp,” said Scott, “We ate together, we stayed at the Inn together the whole time, and we recorded. Going about it that way made for a very organic record. We had a great engineer with Dave Sinko, who could in essence create a studio space in a rustic, historic home.”
Morning Shift also marks the band’s first album with new band member Burdett on guitar and vocals, bringing a soul-stirring element to the Rangers’ mastery of mountain music. Burdett is an award-winning singer-songwriter and a student of folk tradition providing a fresh, emotional context to the Rangers’ songbook.
Yesterday, Taste of Country premiered "Recommend Me" writing, "If you listen to the Steep Canyon Rangers’ new album the way it’s meant to be listened to, you will find the song 'Recommend Me' at the very end, waiting to blow you away." Today, fans can listen to the new single right here, check out the group’s previously-released singles—”Hominy Valley” and “Deep End”—at their respective links, and pre-order or pre-save Morning Shift ahead of its September 8th release right here. The Rangers hit the road again this weekend with stops in Goshen, Connecticut, and Brownfield, Maine. A full list of tour dates can be found below or at steepcanyon.com/tour.
Morning Shift Tracklist:
Second in Line (Junior)
Old Stone House/Handlebars/Chimney Rock
Ghost of Glasgow
Above My Burdens
Birds of Ohio
Fare Thee Well, Carolina Gals
Catch Steep Canyon Rangers On Tour:
Aug. 12 - Podunk Bluegrass Festival - Goshen, CT
Aug. 13 - Stone Mountain Arts Center - Brownfield, ME
Aug. 18 - North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh, NC ^
Aug. 19 - Shenandoah Valley Music Festival - Orkney Springs, VA
Sept. 1 - Anne Springs Close Greenway - Dairy Barn - Fort Mill, SC
Sept. 2 - The Blue Ridge Music Center - Galax, VA
Sept. 8-9 - Mountain Song Festival - Brevard, NC
Sept. 14-16 - Benedum Center for the Performing Arts - Pittsburgh, PA *
Sept. 21 - AmericanaFest - Nashville, TN
Sept. 22-23 - Encore Theater - Las Vegas, NV *
Sept. 28 - Brooks Center for Performing Arts - Clemson, SC
Sept. 29 - Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre - Wilmington, NC
Oct. 13 - Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts - Greensboro, NC *
Oct. 14 - Township Auditorium - Columbia, SC *
Oct. 15 - North Charleston Performing Arts Center - Charleston, SC *
Oct. 26 - Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre - Red Bank, NJ *
Oct. 27 - Academy of Music - Philadelphia, PA *
Oct. 28 - The Lyric Theatre - Baltimore, MD *
Oct. 29 - Altria Theater - Richmond, VA *
Nov. 3 - The Lyric Theatre - Stuart, FL
Nov. 4 - Florida Theatre - Jacksonville, FL
Nov. 5 - Capitol Theatre - Clearwater, FL
Nov. 10 - Merrill Auditorium - Portland, ME *
Nov. 11- Providence Performing Arts Center- Providence, RI *
Nov. 12 - Turning Stone Resort Casino - Verona, NY *
Nov. 30 - Salle Wilfrid Pelletier - Montreal, QC *
Dec. 1-2 - Meridian Hall- Toronto, ON *
^ with Amythyst Kiah
* With Steve Martin & Martin Short
For ticket information, please visit steepcanyon.com/tour.
More About Steep Canyon Rangers: Steep Canyon Rangers are made up of 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, dobro, guitar and vocals, and Barrett Smith on bass, guitar, and vocals.
Over the band’s esteemed career, the three-time Grammy nominees have released 14 studio albums, three collaborative albums with actor and banjoist Steve Martin, been inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and appeared on some of music’s biggest stages. In 2013, Nobody Knows You won the GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album, while 2012’s Rare Bird Alert and 2020’s North Carolina Songbook garnered nominations in the same category.