Punch Brothers go for Baroque

Punch Brothers - Noam Pikelny, Chris Thile, Paul Kowert, Chris Eldridge, Gabe WichterContinuing in their quest to prove that the familiar bluegrass ensemble (banjo, bass, fiddle, guitar, mandolin) is primarily a group of musical instruments – as opposed to bluegrass instruments – Punch Brothers are hard at work on a transcription of  the 3rd Brandenburg Concerto from Johann Sebastian Bach.

This piece, officially titled Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048, was composed in 1721 for three violins, three violas, three cellos, bass and harpsichord. It was arranged for Punch Brothers by violinist Rob Moose, who performs the 3rd movement with the guys in this hand held video posted on YouTube.

The video was shot at a recent band show at The Living Room in NYC where they play on Thursday nights when they aren’t otherwise engaged. These shows are intended as a place to try out new material and just have fun on stage.

Banjoist Noam Pikelny implys that it isn’t a simple thing to take the banjo out of bluegrass..

“It was my first time playing any Bach in front of people, and I successfully resisted the primal urge to end the movement with a behind the bridge backwards rake a la  Flop Eared Mule.”

Punch Brothers consists of Chris Thile on mandolin, Pikelny on banjo, Gabe Wichter on fiddle, Chris Eldridge on guitar and Paul Cowert on bass.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.