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Punch Brothers, "Preternaturally Talented" (NY Times), Play NY's Town Hall; Hear/Watch WNYC "Soundcheck" Set

Punch Brothers: "Soundcheck," April 25, 2012
Punch Brothers have brought their US headlining tour to New York City for a sold-out show at The Town Hall—the band's headlining debut at the famed Hall—with Jesca Hoop opening. In advance of the show, band mates Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny spoke with the New York Times's James C. McKinley Jr. for an Arts Beat piece about the evolution of the band's music from their Nonesuch debut album, Punch, through their next, Antifogmatic, and their latest album, Who's Feeling Young Now?.

"It has always been hard to pigeonhole Punch Brothers. They are an all-star bluegrass band, five virtuosos led by Chris Thile, the mercurial mandolin player, but their songs smash the three-chord harmonies and blazing march rhythm of bluegrass," writes McKinley. "They write dramatic, labyrinthine pieces that straddle genres. Sometimes they sound like a progressive art rock group going acoustic, sometimes like an avant-garde jazz combo with an Earl Scruggs-style banjo mixed in and sometimes like down-home pickers at a county fair. Above the music floats Mr. Thile’s clear tenor, singing deeply personal lyrics, usually about love’s collateral damage. It is restless music, by musicians so preternaturally talented they get bored easily with fiddle tunes."

Read more from McKinley and see what Thile and Pikelny have to say at


Punch Brothers are also the subject of a feature article in the New York Daily News by the paper's music critic, Jim Farber, who also notes the Scruggs connection.

"They use all the classic components of bluegrass—sawing fiddles, jittery banjos, flinty guitars, and flickering mandolins," writes Farber. "But no hearing person would mistake the way the Punch Brothers play those instruments for the Appalachian pickings of Earl Scruggs or Ricky Skaggs."

Farber continues: "Instead, the structure and feel of their songs draws on elements as broad as modern jazz, avant-garde classical music and prog-rock. In the process, The Punch Brothers ... have not only turned a rural sound urban, they’ve achieved that most rare of musical feats—to create something genuinely new."

Read the complete article at


Tonight's concert is today's Gig Alert from New York NPR member station WNYC. Punch Brothers were guests on yesterday's episode of WNYC's Soundcheck. The special edition of Soundcheck was held before a sold-out audience in the Greene Space in downtown Manhattan and broadcast live on WNYC. The band spoke with host John Schaefer and performed songs from Who's Feeling Young Now? —"Movement and Location," "Who's Feeling Young Now?," "Patchwork Girlfriend," and "Flippen." You can listen to the episode, featuring what the show calls the band's "rollicking string-band rock," here:

And watch their performance of the three album tracks for Soundcheck here:

"This Girl"

"Who's Feeling Young Now?"

"Patchwork Girlfriend"


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