The Punch Brothers were born at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2006, and the original lineup of The Punch Brothers officially played their final show at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2023.
There may not be a better example of how cluttered and crazy release days have become over the last couple of years than what’s happening on March 24th. A total of 22 albums that have been pre-screened and selected to be considered for review by Saving Country Music are all being released on the same day.
Certain events and venues take on an exceptional status in music, simply from the moments that happened there, the memories made, and the artists discovered. Such is the case for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which celebrated its 49th Anniversary in 2022.
Make no mistake though, if you want to hear the absolute pinnacle of bluegrass in 2021 when it comes to just sheer blazing imagination and artistry, then accept no substitutes. Béla Fleck and ‘My Bluegrass Heart’ are it, period. ‘My Bluegrass Heart’ is a masterwork
I know what some will say: Bluegrass has always been here. And that’s most certainly true. But for these subgenres of country music to sustain, they need fresh blood every few years, both in the form of exciting new performers, and new fans. And in 2021, bluegrass is enjoying both.
Pickathon is the roots music experience like no other. It offers one of the most forward-thinking lineups in the independent festival circuit, is two steps ahead in featuring artists that are on the verge of becoming the next big thing, and presents the artist in some of the most unique settings to be found. Even if you can’t make it to the Northwest extremity of the country next weekend….
maybe it took Nickel Creek’s separation to truly realize the virtues each player possessed, both as a listener, and for the player’s themselves. With lessons learned and life beyond Nickel Creek explored, they can come together once again to create fellowship through music and share it with an audience hungry from the seven year hiatus.
I come to the Sara Watkins world admittedly from the outside looking in. I wasn’t along for the ride when her previous band Nickel Creek blew up and made stars of its principals, principally mandolin maestro Chris Thile who now heads The Punch Brothers. Since Nickel Creek split into forks, some folks have been laying their silver down on which player will outmatch the other.
If your looking for that one bluegrass ensemble that is defining our generation’s take on the discipline, it’s hard to argue against the Punch Brothers. Though Punch Brothers talk usually trends toward the talent of mandolin maestro Chris Thile, the troupe boasts overarching, rabidly accomplished skill across the front line, and a far superior instrumental adeptness that is undeniable.
Is this a great bluegrass album? Of course not. But a great bluegrass album would also not be a vehicle to introduce a generation of people to Del McCoury, Kris Kristofferson, and bluegrass music in general. Is it the album that Dierks set out to make without commercial consideration or label meddling? I kind of think it is.