Steve Martin. “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo.” Rounder. 16 tracks.

It would be too easy for hard-core bluegrass fans to dismiss Steve Martin’s first bluegrass album.

After all, he’s a Grammy-winning comedian — for “Let’s Get Small” (1977) and “Wild and Crazy Guy” (1978). He’s an actor and a best-selling author.

 But he’s also a very good banjo player — and not bad as a songwriter. Don’t forget that Martin also won a Grammy for his 2001 collaboration with Earl Scruggs on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”

Since then, he’s been writing music and pulling together this album, which was produced by boyhood friend John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

 Martin wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 16 tracks — “Clawhammer Medley.” He wrote “Daddy Played The Banjo” with Scruggs and “Words Unspoken” with Pete Wernick.

The rest were a one-man effort.

 No, this isn’t a traditional bluegrass album. But it’s good progressive bluegrass.

 Vince Gill and Dolly Parton duet on “Pretty Flowers.” Tim O’Brien sings “Daddy Played The Banjo” and Irish singer Mary Black adds vocals to “Calico Train,” a beautiful Celtic-influenced song.

 Scruggs adds his banjo to “Daddy Played The Banjo” and “Pretty Flowers.” And the band includes McEuen, Wernick, Tony Trischka, Jerry Douglas and Stuart Duncan.

 The album was released in January, exclusively on, and went to No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass albums chart. It finally hit record stores at the end of May.

Martin made appearances with the Steep Canyon Rangers in New York City and has performed on the Grand Ole Opry in support of the album.

Maybe he’s not a “real” bluegrass artist, but don’t let that fool you. “The Crow” is definitely an album worth checking out.

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