Appalachian sensations Steep Canyon Rangers and Amythyst Kiah take the Moss Arts Center stage
April 7, 2021
Experience the diverse sounds of today’s Appalachia from the region’s leading musicians with an exclusive performance streamed live from the stage of the Moss Arts Center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre on Saturday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Asheville, North Carolina-based Grammy winner Steep Canyon Rangers, known for its innovative spirit and virtuosic playing, headlines this evening, which includes special guest opener Amythyst Kiah, a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter from Johnson City, Tennessee, who amazes audiences with her raw and powerful vocals. Ticketholders have access to this “HomeStage” series event as it happens, and for seven days following the event.
One of the most recognizable names in modern bluegrass music, Steep Canyon Rangers has been on a journey that is uniquely its own. The band started while members attended college at UNC-Chapel Hill, diving head first into bluegrass in its most traditional form. Over the years the band has risen to the top of the bluegrass genre, headlining top festivals such as Merlefest and Grey Fox Bluegrass, only to be discovered by actor and banjo player Steve Martin, who took the group on a nearly decade-long tour and introduced it to hundreds of thousands of new fans.
Featuring Woody Platt on guitar and vocals, Graham Sharp on banjo and vocals, Mike Guggino on mandolin/mandola and vocals, Nicky Sanders on fiddle and vocals, Mike Ashworth on drums and vocals, and Barrett Smith on bass and vocals, the band is often compared to predecessors The Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the modern Zac Brown Band.
Steep Canyon Rangers released three albums in 2020, all on Yep Roc Records. The Grammy-nominated “North Carolina Songbook” is a recording of its live 2019 performance at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in which the band performed a selection of songs by North Carolina songwriters (Ola Belle Reed, Doc Watson, James Taylor, Ben E. King, and others). “Be Still Moses” features the band’s collaboration with Philadelphia soul legends Boyz II Men and its hometown Asheville Symphony, while its most recent release of all original music, “Arm in Arm,” came out in October.
Born in Chattanooga and based in Johnson City, Tennessee, Kiah returns to the Moss Arts Center after a 2017 debut with Floyd Radio Show: On the Road in conjunction with the Crooked Road: Mountains of Music Homecoming. Provocative and fierce with a commanding stage presence, Kiah finds inspiration in old time music, alternative rock, folk, country, and blues, and her ability to cross boundaries is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
Our Native Daughters, her recent collaboration with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla (presented in the Moss Arts Center’s “HomeStage” series last September), and Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago), has delivered the album “Songs of Our Native Daughters.” “Black Myself,” the opening track written by Kiah, earned a 2020 Grammy Award nomination for Best American Roots Song. Kiah recently released a new solo studio version of “Black Myself” that is a glorious collision of two vastly different worlds: the iconoclastic alt-rock that first sparked her musical passion and the roots/old-time-music scene.
Her stylistic range will be on full display in her next full-length album, expected on Rounder Records soon. Kiah regularly tours the United Kingdom and has performed at Celtic Connections, Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, and SummerTyne Americana Festival. She is a crowd favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and has shined at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, and Winnipeg Folk Festival. Kiah has opened for such artists as the Indigo Girls, Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Old Crow Medicine Show, First Aid Kit, Darrell Scott, and Tim O’Brien.
In addition to her performance, Kiah will lead a virtual discussion about her music and personal journey in the context of the region’s history and cultures with Virginia Tech students in an Introduction to Appalachian Studies course.
Tickets are $10 for general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.