Tag Archives: Punch Brothers

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Infamous Stringdusters Celebrate New Album at The Bowery Ballroom

March 25th, 2014

The Infamous Stringdusters, those noted purveyors of groove-friendly bluegrass, formed in Nashville in 2006. According to PopMatters, they “take traditional bluegrass and old-timey music and use it as a launching pad to explore other, more improvisational, free-flowing forms.” And while the band’s lineup hasn’t been exactlky free flowing, there have been a few personnel changes over the ensuing years: Guitarist Andy Falco joined when Chris Eldridge departed to join Punch Brothers, and several years later, the man on the mandolin, Jesse Cobb, left the band. But Travis Book (upright bass), Jeremy Garrett (Fiddle), Andy Hall (dobro) and Chris Pandolfi (banjo) have all been around since the start. And together, they’ve put out five albums (one of them a live LP), the last of which, Silver Sky (stream it below), came out in 2012. But their newest full-length, the highly anticipated Let It Go, arrives next Tuesday. And the Infamous Stringdusters (above, performing “Let It Go” and, below, covering Lorde’s “Royals”) are already out on the road in support of it. Their tour brings them to New York City to play The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night.

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Punch Brothers Take a Look Backward and Forward

December 31st, 2013

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 30, 2013


The arrival of New Year’s Eve is the singular moment in the calendar when we’re equally looking backward and forward. This makes it the perfect time to catch the Punch Brothers, who take music and styles from the past and make them new and equally make modern sounds classic. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom was the second of three sold-out shows in what is taking root as an annual holiday tradition. A heavy curtain behind the stage played tricks with the light, the deep ruffles alternately absorbing and reflecting, evocative of another time and place. And as the band took the stage, Chris Thile wished the eager crowd a “happy New Year … almost!”

Punch Brothers opened with their version of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World,” a gorgeous silence filling the space between the instruments: banjo, mandolin, violin, guitar feeling as timeless as ever. A new song, “Magnet,” simultaneously felt both New Wave and bluegrass, Thile silly and suggestive. An instrumental was dark, the music a step of phase, like they wound a bluegrass breakdown a quarter turn to the left with impressive solos from Gabe Witcher on violin, Noam Pikelny on banjo and Chris Eldridge on guitar before a short back-and-forth between Paul Kowert on bass and Thile on mandolin. These profound moments of beauty alternated with looser bits, the Punch Brothers’ humor always of the inside-joke variety, large portions of the audience ready to participate on songs like “Patchwork Girlfriend,” shouting along at the right time without provocation.

It was two pairs of covers that summed up the Punch Brothers’ forward-and-backward dichotomy. Mid-set they established their indie cred with an Americana take on Elliott Smith’s “Clementine” and followed it with a fantastic modernized rendering of a Claude Debussy piece. The latter was an impressive display of talent, all five musicians immersed in the piece, making it their own. The encore paired a solo Bach piece from Thile with a cover of Americana legend John Hartford’s “Old Joe Clark.” Thile, who resisted taking too many outlandish solos during the set proper, let it all out during the Bach tune, signaling that if you’re going to be self-indulgent, you might as well go all the way. Watching him contort both the music and his body, making the difficult look easy and the very old feel very new, wasn’t just art but performance art. “Old Joe Clark,” on the other hand, was just some good old-fashioned picking, and lest we forget where these guys come from, they tacked on a strong bluegrass version of Gillian Welch’s “Back in Time.” From “Another New World” to “Back in Time.” Forward and backward—happy New Year … almost.
—A. Stein

 

 

 

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Punch Brothers Tonight

December 31st, 2013

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Bluegrass powerhouse Punch Brothers ring in the New Year tonight at The Bowery Ballroom, and The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Punch Brothers, NYE) and a brief message explaining the funniest thing that happened to you this year. Eddie Bruiser, who’s looking for a good laugh, will notify the winner this afternoon. Good luck and happy New Year.

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Perhaps the Start of a New Tradition

December 31st, 2012

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2012


These things have to start somewhere. In absence of Patti Smith’s longstanding New Year’s Eve run at The Bowery Ballroom, on Saturday night Punch Brothers kicked off what we can only hope will become an annual three-night out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new run at the corner of Delancey and Bowery. With Chinese lanterns strung across the room and cozy lights above the stage, the mood was celebratory, as rhythmic “We want an encore!” clapping spontaneously broke out before the band even took the stage. This was an arena-rock-primed crowd for a bluegrass band: What gives?

When Chris Thile and the band took the stage, opening with their cover of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World”—featured on their new Ahoy! EP (starting a show-long call-and-response of “Ahoy!”)—the reasons for the crowd’s enthusiasm were apparent. The song and the following set were without-a-net string music, with an openness worthy of a jam band, interplay reminiscent of great jazz quartets and songwriting rivaling your favorite indie-rock freak folk. The audience went silent during the songs before erupting like a canned laugh track in between, eagerly applauding Noam Pikelny’s banjo figure eights or Thile’s masterful mandolin playing. The set drew from Punch Brothers’ entire catalog and beyond. “New York City” was an early ode to their hometown, while “Heart in a Cage” prompted a happy sing-along for a maybe-not-so-happy song, and “Song for a Young Queen” was one of many giddy instrumentals wrapping up multiple genres in a singular Punch Brothers sound.

The second half of the 90-minute show was one long highlight reel: the band premiering a nice cover of the Beach Boys“Surf’s Up” (a song they “wished to God” they had written), paying tribute to the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge, who had passed away earlier in the day, with “Through the Bottom of the Glass,” and handling an awe-inspiring movement from Thile’s “The Blind Leading the Blind.” During the last one, as the mathematically beautiful music unfolded, I was reminded that this bourbon-sipping picker is also a certifiable genius. As he led the band through a fantastic encore that hit on all of the quintet’s strengths, Thile mentioned his New Year’s resolution was to “drink more and better whiskey.” I’d like to add to that: Start a new New Year’s Eve tradition. —A. Stein

 

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Ray LaMontagne – Rumsey Playfield – September 26, 2011

September 27th, 2011


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – April 16, 2011

April 18th, 2011

Punch Brothers - The Bowery Ballroom - April 16, 2011

Photos courtesy of Chris Gersbeck | chrisgersbeck.com

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Punch Brothers on 4/16

April 12th, 2011

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Punch Brothers are back, on Saturday at The Bowery Ballroom. And just like the last time they played there, the show is sold out. But if you’d still like to go, you’ve got another chance because The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Then try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Punch Brothers, 4/16) and a brief message explaining why bluegrass is cool. Eddie Bruiser, a firm believer, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Great Crowd, Great Music, Great Night

January 17th, 2011

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – January 15, 2011

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On Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom, Punch Brothers, a bluegrass outfit by way of Brooklyn, hosted p-Bingo, in which, according to them, “you can expect to find the Brothers trying out new material, improving existing material and appropriating material that they wish was theirs.” The band is made of five guys with the talent of 10. And even when played live, their music is as tight as a drum.

The chatty frontman (and mandolin player) Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek, revealed how happy he and the rest of the well-dressed band—Chris “Critter” Eldridge on guitar, Paul Kowert on bass, the smooth-voiced Noam “Pickles” Pikelny on banjo and Gabe Witcher on fiddle—were to be playing The Bowery Ballroom by comparing it to Carnegie Hall. And it’s hard to imagine a crowd at that venerable midtown venue being any more respectful and attentive than Saturday night’s audience. Those in the sold-out room hung on every word and each note, joining in to sing, clap and stomp, and it must’ve been the fewest instances of people texting and taking photos at a show since doing those things became so popular.

The two-hour performance included originals like “Punch Bowl,” “Next to the Trash” and “Rye Whiskey” and such covers as the wonderfully harmonized “Paperback Writer” and a terrific “Big River” with the openers, the Secret Sisters. Punch Brothers are great entertainers and supremely talented musicians, and their music simultaneously comes off as old-timey and contemporary. If you’ve never checked out a bluegrass band, start with this one. —R. Zizmor

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Punch Brothers on 1/15

January 13th, 2011

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Punch Brothers play The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night, and as an added bonus, the Secret Sisters, fresh off T-Bone Burnett’s Speaking Clock Revue, will open the sold-out show. And you still might get some bluegrass this weekend even if you don’t already have a ticket, because The House List is giving away two of them. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Punch Brothers, 1/15) and a brief message explaining which February show you most want to see. Eddie Bruiser, who still hasn’t gotten a 2011 calendar, will notify the winner tomorrow.

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Five Questions with…Chris “Critter” Eldridge

June 22nd, 2010
(Photo: C. Taylor Crothers)

Punch Brothers Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

After the breakup of Nickel Creek, mandolin badass Chris Thile gathered some seriously talented musicians, Chris “Critter” Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kowert (bass), Noam Pikelny (banjo) and Gabe Witcher (violin), and formed the progressive-bluegrass outfit Punch Brothers. Their first album, Punch, came out two years ago while their second disc, Antifogmatic, is just a week old, and its accompanying tour brings Punch Brothers—below, playing “This Is the Song (Good Luck),”—to Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Expect original material with some cool covers (think: Radiohead and the Strokes) in the mix. Ahead of this show, Brooklyn resident Critter (pictured, above far right) e-mailed The House List to answer Five Questions.

Which band have you seen play live the most often (excluding bands you’ve toured with)?
It’s hard to say, but when I lived in Nashville I used to always go to the Station Inn to see the Time Jumpers, an old-school Western swing/classic country group. I am convinced that they are one of the greatest bands in the world.

Which bands that you listened to growing up do you still listen to?
Since both of my parents are banjo players, bluegrass is the music that I was surrounded by during my childhood. Probably because of that, I wanted nothing to do with it for years. However, lately I feel that I can learn a lot by hearing how direct really good bluegrass, like Bill Monroe or the Stanley Brothers, can be.

What’s the toughest part of playing New York City?
This city has been one of the world’s epicenters of great art and music for a long time, which can be intimidating. But ultimately it is actually a good thing because it absolutely demands that you dig deep and pull the very best out of yourself. A disproportionate number of best shows that I’ve been a part of have taken place here.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much?
I do have a crutch in that I have four great musical minds that I get to develop musical ideas with. If ever I have an idea that seems worthwhile but I can’t figure out how to proceed, they always have a good solution.

Your after-party is at Hi-Fi, the Avenue A bar known for its endless jukebox, and The House List gives you a buck. Which three songs are you playing?
“Move It on Over” by Hank Williams Sr., “The Curse” by Josh Ritter and, finally, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by the Band. —R. Zizmor