GREENSBORO — Asheville-based bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers on Tuesday released their reinvention of Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk.”
The Grammy Award-winning group released the track recorded live at MerleFest 2019, adorning the jazz classic with banjo, mandolin and fiddle. It stays true to the band recent genre-defying run.
As the band described it on stage at MerleFest, "We're not sure if Bill Monroe and Thelonious Monk ever met on the road, but if they did, it might’ve sounded like this."
Get a sneak peak of "Blue Monk" here.
The track comes from the group’s forthcoming "North Carolina Songbook" live record which will be released Nov. 29 in celebration of Record Store Day Black Friday.
The idea for "Blue Monk" came about when Steep Canyon Rangers — who are regulars at MerleFest in Wilkesboro — decided to create a completely one-of-a-kind experience for fans this year.
That included bluegrass-flavored renditions of songs that have been seminal to North Carolina's musical history, from Monk to James Taylor to Ben E King to Doc Watson.
Steep Canyon Rangers have made a near-annual tradition of performing at MerleFest, their home state’s preeminent roots music festival.
On their most recent stop, they played their way through North Carolina musical history. They reinterpreted the work of cross-generational icons such as Elizabeth Cotten, Doc Watson, Ben E King and James Taylor in their own unmistakable style.
On Nov. 29, the band will share that MerleFest set as a live album, to be released on LP and CD via Yep Roc Records.
'North Carolina Songbook' is the latest in what has already been an unconventional 2019 for Steep Canyon Rangers, which includes Greensboro native Graham Sharp.
Over the summer, the group collaborated with Boyz II Men and the Asheville Symphony for "Be Still Moses," which was praised for its "sublime haromines and soulful ad-libs" by Rolling Stone.
Next week, they travel to Australia for another leg of shows supporting comedy legends Martin Short and (frequent collaborator) Steve Martin.