Photo by Danny Clinch
Chris Thile and his quirky bluegrass cohorts, all disturbingly talented and very much famous in their own rights, rattled through a set-list packed with hits old and new – including ‘Rye Whiskey’, ‘This Girl’ and ‘Movement and Location’ – at Scala in Kings Cross before recording for Later… With Jools Holland a mere few days later.
Each and every member of the band – frontman and mandolin virtuoso Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjo player Noam Pikelny, violinist Gabe Witcher and bassist and Paul Kowert – appeared to be blown-away by the response of the crowd, who whooped and cheered throughout the gig, clearly showing their appreciation for Thile and Co and what they are doing for the bluegrass scene.
Based out of New York, Punch Brothers, who are said to be Elton John’s favourite band, are currently playing a key and impactful role in the new American acoustic movement.
Each of the individual musicians has crammed plenty of solo work and/or other collaborations in between Punch Brothers commitments. Pikelny has released a second solo disc, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, produced by Witcher. Eldridge joined Pikelny on his record and, along with Witcher, on his tour. Kowert has been playing live dates in guitarist Jordan Tice’s trio with hammer dulcimer player Simon Chrisman, with which he released the album The Secret History. The peripatetic Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek, recorded a Grammy–nominated duo set with Brooklyn guitar savant Michael Daves, Sleep with One Eye Open; released The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan (which won a Songlines Music Award for best cross-cultural collaboration); and performed live in London with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.