The banjo was a staple of Martin's 1970s stand-up career and he periodically poked fun at his love for the instrument. On the Comedy Is Not Pretty! album he included an all-instrumental jam, titled "Drop Thumb Medley," and played the track on his 1979 concert tour. His final comedy album, 1981's The Steve Martin Brothers, featured one side of Martin's typical stand-up material, with the other side featuring live performances of Steve playing banjo with a bluegrass band.
Martin played banjo along with the Steep Canyon Rangers on A Prairie Home Companion, and began a two-month U.S. tour with the Rangers in September of 2009, including an appearances at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Carnegie Hall and Benaroya Hall in Seattle. They went on to play at the Royal Festival Hall in London with support from Mary Black. In 2010, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers appeared at the New Orleans Jazzfest.