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After serving a good 30 years as an innovative comedic darling, one couldn’t fault Steve Martin for settling comfortably into his unnecessary blockbuster remake phase (The Out-of-Towners, Cheaper By the Dozen, The Pink Panther). In February, Martin decided to interrupt his descent into movie history with a more interesting period: His celebrity-clawhammer-banjoist phase. Martin had previously resigned his banjo skill to stand-up, rolling out his proficiency on the five-string alongside his other sideshow gags, like obscene balloon twisting. But over the course of 40 years of kidding, Martin stored up an album’s worth of real banjo tunes. The result, The Crow, reveals an upside to Martin’s recent creative pause. Some of Martin’s best original picking originated on the sets of his most derivative films: Martin wrote “Tin Roof,” a romping instrumental, while playing father to 12 child actors in Cheaper; “Pretty Flowers,” a sweetly subversive song about marrying the girl who put out on the first date, was composed while serving time as Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers perform at 8 P.M. on Monday, Oct. 12, at the Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $69.50-89.50. (202) 467-4600.