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Never play same genre twice

By Darragh McNicholl
On March 30, 2014

Jorgensen's latest performers, The Punch Brothers played a wonderful array of sounds, music, and genres Saturday.
Formed in 2006 The Punch Brothers have since been redefining bluegrass. With Chris Thile on mandolin, Gabe Witcher on fiddle/violin, Noam Pikelny on banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar, and Paul Kowert on bass, the group has a powerful folk influence. Along with the equally talented Aoife O'Donovan as their opener the, Punch Brothers gave a powerfully entertaining performance for a large audience full of people who love their work.
The Punch Brothers and Aoife O'Donovan fall into a category of music that defies genre. The most common label for their music is progressive bluegrass, a wide reaching subgenre of bluegrass that often involves importing music from other genres or styles of music. Even with such a broad genre of music as their most common, the Punch Brothers played a number of songs that fall under completely different genres. In fact during this performance the Punch Brothers never seemed to play the same genre of music twice in a row. The Punch Brothers could not settle on a genre jumping from folk to country/western, classical to bluegrass, chamber music, indie folk, indie rock, even folky rock. Trying to define their music under these genres is not entirely fair because every Punch Brothers song brings something to the table that no single genre can by itself.
What the Punch Brothers bring to an audience and the world of music is not just a wide variety of genres and originality in sound, but also a mastery of their instruments. They often burst into unbelievable solos showing off skills only a recording can usually give. The speed and complexity at which the musicians played was only dwarfed by what seemed to be completely improvised outbursts of music. Paul Kowert substantially blew the audience away by playing notes on his bass one normally associates with a violin. It is the control over the sound they produce that makes them so talented and entertaining
Their rapport with the audience was worth noting as well. A few simple jokes, the nods and remarks to each other on stage, asking the audience to sing along or "dance in their seats" all added to the charm of the Punch Brothers. Chris Thile, who is also the lead vocalist for most of their songs, specifically graced the audience with overwhelming charisma.
If you have a desire to hear more campfire folk songs, then Aoife O'Donovan is a wonderful talent that you cannot ignore. If you want something more symphonic and energizing, then Punch Brothers is exactly that. The only problem you are bound to face is that both musical groups are too incredible live to ever miss out on.
 


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