Punch Brothers have brought on young bass monster Paul Kowert to take the spot of departing founding member Greg Garrison. The band otherwise remains the same (Chris Thile on mandolin, Noam Pikelny on banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar and Gabe Witcher on fiddle).
Kowert, 22 years old, had been touring this fall with mandolinist Mike Marshall in his Big Trio (along with 16 year old fiddler Alex Hargreaves), and studied at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Edgar Meyer. He began with Thile’s band this past weekend.
We caught Punch Brothers last night in Roanoke, and Kowert is more than up to the task. Not only has he memorized the demanding Punch Brothers repertoire, but he is a brilliant soloist in his own right. His tone (both arco and bowed) was gorgeous, and his use of a C extender on the low E string – and his comfort playing at the uppermost region of the fingerboard – brought a new dimension to the band’s already impressive sound.
Thile seemed to revel in Kowert’s bass work, and could be seen congratulating him after a couple of songs. Paul also sings a good bit of the vocal harmony in the band.
I don’t suppose there is any news value in pointing out that each member of Punch Brothers was equally stunning on stage, as was the group as a whole. They continue to strike me as the most technically gifted string ensemble yet assembled, and the discipline they exhibit individually and as a unit is a wonder to behold.
No word as to Garrison’s current or future plans. His MySpace profile has been recently deleted.