by Chad Campbell, senior producer
Bob and I met Chris Thile, Noam Pikelny and Chris Eldridge at their New Orleans hotel just a few hours before the Punch Brothers would play the Fais Do-Do stage on the final day of the 2011 Jazz Fest back in May. They have no special connection with New Orleans, but we were there and we were there and wanted to talk to them. We sat around a round table in a ground floor conference room with a bus idling just outside the room, but we made the best of it. Along with bandmates Gabe Witcher and Paul Kowert, these guys have spent a lot of time together over the past five years, touring, recording, performing and just hanging out, now that they all live in the New York area. The group is currently opening the next few shows for Paul Simon’s tour, they’re preparing for a tour of Europe in January, they’ve finished recording their latest CD which is due out in February and they’ve also been busy with solo and side projects. Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile recorded a series of duet with guitarist Michael Daves called Sleep with One Eye Open. He also appears on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a new CD with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan. While Punch Brother banjo player Noam Pikelny released his second solo record Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail. Pikelny was also awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. It’s no joke. The award from the comedian and noted banjo player comes with a $50,000 check. Here’s the hilarious video of Pikelny and Martin on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Pikelny has also been featured in a New Yorker cartoon!