I remember when I first realized that the absurdist comedian on Saturday Night Live was more than just a kitten-juggler and otherwise “wild and crazy guy.” He had just finished a routine with Dan Akroyd as one of the would-be playboy Festrunk Brothers and for his next act picked up a banjo, touched the strings, and made my college roommates and I tilt back in our chairs and say “Whoa!”
Martin would later go on to play banjo on Earl Scruggs’ 2001 remake of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” a recording which won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance, and release an all-music album — 2009’s “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo” — that won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.
Martin’s latest album, “Rare Bird Alert,” was release on March 15 and features one song that all fly fishers should own ($0.99 from Amazon): “Yellow-Backed Fly.” A few of the lyrics (Jim is a fish):
“Tried it last June with a lit firefly,
Layed it on the water with a perfect bullseye.
Well Jim made a splash, gone in a flash.
Beneath the water I heard him laugh.”