Undeniably the next big thing to happen to the 5-string banjo, and member of Grammy-nominated Punch Brothers, Noam Pikelny has helped to broaden the awareness of the banjo in the mainstream -- with new album Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail debuting this week at the #27 slot on the Billboard Heat Seekers chart.
Noam earned the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, and a coveted appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" with Martin. Pikelny was also the first acoustic artist to ever be featured in a Funny Or Die spoof, with stars Ed Helms, Steve Martin and more -- to hilarious and immensely popular response.
Though the banjo, a uniquely American instrument, has been usually associated with musics of the folk, bluegrass and traditional genres of music it has begun to be used more and more in mainstream music. After the weekend premiere of the PBS special "Give Me The Banjo," a documentary in which he carries a role, the 30-year-old Pikelny casts himself as an innovator and critical torchbearer for the banjo as a pop icon.
The long awaited second album, Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail, from Punch Brothers' banjoist and winner of the 2010 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Album features: Jerry Douglas, Aoife O'Donovan, Tim O'Brien, Steve Martin, Bryan Sutton and Chris Thile.
Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail was just released Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 on Compass Records. Pikelny is undeniably the next big thing to happen to the 5-string banjo, a player of unparalleled technique, he confounds and inspires listeners with his mastery of the instrument. As a member of Punch Brothers, he has helped to broaden the awareness of the banjo in the mainstream, earning the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music and a coveted appearance on Late Night with David Letterman with Martin. Noam is currently offering a free download of the first track from the album, "Jim Thompson's Horse," at his website NoamPikelny.com.
On his long-awaited sophomore recording, Noam delivers a set that is as dazzling for its virtuosity as it is engaging for its melodic sensibilities. In addition to an all star cast of instrumentalists including Bryan Sutton (guitar), Chris Thile (mandolin), Tim O'Brien (mandolin, fiddle) and Jerry Douglas (dobro), he also shares the spotlight with guest vocalists Aoife O'Donovan (Crooked Still) on a delightful rendering of Tom Waits' "Fish and Bird" and Tim O'Brien on a re-working of the Henry Thomas classic "Bob Mckinney."
Other standout tracks include a banjo duet with Steve Martin on the old-time standard "Cluck Old Hen" and a mind-boggling, instrumental powerhouse trio featuring Chris Thile and Bryan Sutton on the original "Bear Dog Grit." Rounding out the band is fiddler Stuart Duncan, Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge, and bassist Mark Schatz. The release marks Punch Brothers fiddler Gabe Witcher's debut as producer.