Brandon, who is also a part owner of Evangeline, a restaurant in Calistoga, California, said his mother gave him a postcard with a picture of Franklin Street. The postcard has traveled with Brandon to each of his jobs across the country.
“It’s got about two dozen pinholes in it, cause every job that I went to I tacked it up above my desk,” he said.
For Graham, who has always lived in North Carolina, Chapel Hill is a special place that influences the band’s music.
“I think this place and I think music and food are two things that have such a strong sense of place to them, you know, I think that’s something that we carry with us in our music,” he said.
The Steep Canyon Rangers, founded while the band members were students at UNC, had their first show at Linda’s Bar and Grill.
Graham said the band used to meet in the bottom of Davie Hall to use the shared bass and play in the stairwell.
“We felt like we were part of a bluegrass movement when we were here at school,” said Woody Platt, singer and guitarist for the Steep Canyon Rangers.
This is the first year of the Carolina Bluegrass Initiative, a class and band dedicated to recognizing the genre.
“To move out of the basement into the classroom is awesome,” Graham said.
The Steep Canyon Rangers participated in the Carolina Bluegrass Summit on Nov. 11, with a workshop and performance at Memorial Hall that night.
“We always play Cat’s Cradle, but this feels like the homecoming gig for us,” Graham said. “This is the band’s home.”
Brandon, who started at the Carolina Inn in October, said when he came to interview for the job, he could tell he was home.
“For me it was odd at first, but there are certain smells that are unique to Chapel Hill that I don’t smell anywhere else and those are the ones that stuck me when we came in at midnight from (the airport),” he said.
Both brothers said they’ve been influenced by their surroundings. Graham grew up admiring Jerry Garcia and going to Grateful Dead concerts, and Brandon’s influences include his time at The French Laundry working under Thomas Keller.
“Every person that I’ve worked next to, whether it was a dishwasher or a four-star chef, has taught me something,” he said.
Even when Brandon was in California, he still used his roots in his cooking.
“We go out to Brandon’s restaurant in California and there’s like this familiar food from North Carolina out there, but it has these other kind on influences and twists, and that’s kind of what we do with our music, trying to take these core values, these traditional templates and add your experience to it,” Graham said.
While the Sharps have talked about doing a joint event for years, facing the public isn’t their first priority right now.
“More than anything I’m just looking to have our families together,” Graham said.