December 29, 2008
Steve Martin Records Banjo Album in Desperate Attempt to Save Career
“He used to be so famous,” say industry insiders
NEW YORK — On January 31, actor, comedian, author, and former celebrity Steve Martin will release his first-ever album of original banjo music, boldly defying industry conventions in a radical attempt to salvage his foundering career.
“Is this a joke?” asked one entertainment columnist. “You can never tell with this guy.”
As his star has faded in recent years, Martin has frequently made clandestine club appearances in the Manhattan area, playing banjo with anyone who might have him.
“At a club you’ll typically find Steve Martin on the same bill as high school kids and amateur strippers, which must be pretty rough for someone who used to be a household name,” said Arturo Baronista, a New York nightclub regular.
And Martin’s increasingly rare television appearances now merely involve the former actor as a backup instrumentalist for much more famous banjo players such as Earl Scruggs, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck.
Tellingly, Martin’s own website provides frequent and extensive updates about his banjo projects with only rare mentions of the other activities, such as acting and comedy, for which he was once so famous.
According to statements released by Martin, an impressive roster of musical superstars such as Matt Flinner, Russ Barenberg, and Dolly Parton will accompany him on the upcoming recording.
“By associating himself with luminaries like those, he reinforces the notion of his own celebrity,” said celebrity expert Emma Beaton. “This whole project is likely a carefully calculated ploy motivated by Martin’s insatiable lust for fame.”
Strangely, the album also features Brittany Haas, a homeless fiddle genius from the streets of New Jersey.
“She is not allowed to sleep here,” said John McEuen, the album’s producer.
Martin’s banjo skills are formidable, but the buildup to his CD release has some industry insiders longing for the old days.
“I still think he’s pretty funny,” said McEuen.