Punch Brothers strike out

Noam Pikelny... or the elusive ManChicken?Well… the vote is in and Punch Brothers were defeated in the ESPN Baseball Tonight band competition by country singer Gretchen Wilson.

The contest was in honor of the 100th anniversary of the venerable Take Me Out To The Ballgame, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilze in 1908. Several popular musical acts were invited to submit their interpretations of the song, and though Punch Brothers made it into the final three, they were unable to overcome the 9th inning rally by Gretchen Wilson fans in the online balloting.

Unfortunately, there is controversy brewing as Punch Brothers banjoist Noam Pikelny has suggested that a “swift boat” attack had been launched against them on the ESPN web site.

As he posted recently on the Punch Brothers site…

There has been a lot of buzz in inside circles that this campaign might go negative. The first round victory of Punch Brothers, the undisputed underdogs, with their primitive acoustic instruments and piecemeal wardrobes, sent shockwaves across the nation. People’s fears of negative smear attacks were unfortunately realized the morning of Tuesday July 7.

The first “Swiftboat” Style attack on Punch Brothers first surfaced on the ESPN.com messageboard:

“I remember the first time I heard about this… I was watching baseball tonight and the Punch Brothers came on. I remember thinking “man, who hired these circus freaks”… No offense too Punch Brothers fans, but do you really think you picked the right band????????? It isn’t that hard to do what they did. I mean I could probably pull some people off the street (“Hey homeless guys, do you have instruments, and also, do you know the lyrics to `Take Me Out To The Ballgame’?”) and no one would know the difference (again, no offense). ” -hockeyplyr99

As of 3:30 PM, EST, neither the Wilson or Ozomatli campaign have denounced the smear.

Major news outlets are scrambling trying to come up with any ties between the Punch Brothers and “Circus Freaks.” An image of Punch Brothers banjoist, Noam Pikelny, has surfaced online where he is seen performing in a Chicken Suit.

Pikelny immediately issued a statement: “I will not apologize for my misspent youth. I also will not allow Carnies or Circus Freaks to become the new scapegoat of American Society. I believe Americans will see right through these vicious smear tactics, and the good name of Punch Brothers will be restored.”

Folks, this is not over.

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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.