It’s hard to make a place as massive as The Anthem feel like a family gathering, but Punch Brothers did just that with some great banter and even greater musicianship.
On our latest podcast, Astra Via’s Jarret Nicolay joins the gang in the basement to talk about the The Phosphorescent Blues, the latest album from prog-grass forerunners Punch Brothers! PLUS! Bjork tells the pirates where they can stick it by officially releasing Vulnicura months before it was due, and new music from much hyped up-and-comer Natalie Prass! The curmudgeon flows strong in Episode 99 of ChunkyGlasses: THE PODCAST!
Taking the stage with a grin so ebullient it managed to infect the room with its cheer and enthusiasm, bandleader/ mandolin phenom Chris Thile announced “I have been waiting SO long to do this!” It was certainly a long time coming, but Friday night, the Punch Brothers finally, FINALLY, delivered a headlining performance proper in the nations Capital. Since forming in 2006, the group has skated along the outskirts of what most would consider mainstream music, and thus mainstream venues. They’ve built their following slowly, playing to the more traditional bluegrass crowds and festivals along the way, yet they’ve never compromised the underlying evil genius mastery of their instruments that provides the bedrock of their music.
With a sound that has often been described as “prog-grass”, listening to a Punch Brothers record can be a cognitive workout that simultaneously leaves the listener both satisfied and exhausted – and that’s sort of the point. This is a band that’s all about balancing acts, and this years Who’s Feeling Young Now was a delirious example of the bands willingness to balance the intellectual with the populist, and in the process subvert the listener’s expectation of what a “pop” song can, and should, be. That delicate balance was on full display Friday night at the 9:30 Club as the band delivered a set that touched on just about every point of the bands career as well as a few other bands careers just to show that they could.
It’s taken over week, but we’ve finally got our thoughts in order (you can see all of our pics here) concerning 2011’s Newport Folk Festival. Before we dive in and try to break down each days experience though, I’d like to let you in on a little secret: Without exaggeration, The Newport Folk festival is possibly the best festival running in the country right now.
Sure it’s smaller (only 10K people this year…which was a sell out for the first time in the festivals history) and sure you may not see the biggest, most hyped new favorite band there. But what you will see is music created for people who truly love music BY people who truly love music. You see, unlike other larger festivals that often end up feeling more like a showcase for whatever band is being pushed at the moment than an actual meeting of the musical minds, at Newport the musicians simply came to play.
Sit in’s with other bands abounded and backstage partnerships were made hourly. There was a sense of community, a “we’re all in this together”-ness that permeated each and every set of the weekend, and made for a thrilling 2 days of music. Even better, if a band wasn’t playing, they could often be found watching as part of the audience, and aside from the occasional pat on the back or handshake and congratulation on their set, they were able to simply carry on like any other Festival attendee.
For two days this past weekend, Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI, became an impromptu community of musicians and fans coming together to celebrate the thing that they hold most dear: MUSIC.
Just saying that this festival is special doesn't even begin to do it justice and we will have our take on the whys and hows in the coming days. Until then, we've put together a collection of shots from the weekend that we think will give you a pretty good idea of how everything went down on Saturday and Sunday at one of the most legendary festivals in the entire country.