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Passion for picking: Steep Canyon Rangers to play at zoo

Mike Guggino just flew across the country to spend 48 hours at home.

Steep Canyon Rangers will perform at the ABQ BioPark Zoo as part of its summer music series tonight. (Courtesy of Sandlin Gaither)

It’s time that he cherishes, because he made a pact with his family that he’d be home on the weekends during tour.

“Touring has changed for us, with our families growing,” he says in a recent phone interview. “”We’re all dads with kids, and we have like 10 or 11 kids in the band. Getting on tour, there’s a bit of an adjustment, because in our households, each one of us is in charge. Then we get on tour and we have to come together and collaborate.”

Guggino is a member of the Grammy Award-winning band Steep Canyon Rangers.

He is joined in the band by Woody Platt, Graham Sharp, Nicky Sanders and Mike Ashworth.

The band is closing in on its 20th anniversary as a band. It was formed in 2000 in North Carolina.

In 2009, the band’s profile skyrocketed when it began collaborating with actor Steve Martin. The band was nominated for a Grammy for its album 2011 album, “Rare Bird Alert,” which featured Martin.

In 2013, the band was awarded a Grammy for its album “Nobody Knows You,” in the bluegrass album category.

Gugginno keeps his award on the piano in his home.

The band’s most recent album is 2018’s “Out in the Open” and Guggino says the band hasn’t been resting at all.

“We have three albums in the works,” he says. “There’s an album with the Asheville Symphony that should come out this year. We did a set at MerleFest where we were honoring North Carolina songwriters. We are working on mixing and mastering that. And then there’s just a stand-alone Steep Canyon Rangers record. We’ve been pretty busy.”

Guggino says Sharp has been writing the majority of the songs and then takes the nearly completed compositions back to the band to work on.

“We arrange everything together,” he says. “It’s been that way for years. I write some of the instrumentals for the band, though we don’t do a lot of those anymore.”

Guggino says becoming fathers has definitely had an influence on the band and its perspective.

“Graham has written a beautiful song for his daughter,” he says. “There’s a direct influence that we see within ourselves. Having children has changed our perspective on a variety of things, not just music.”

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