Punch Brothers Lead Singer Not Hindered by Chest Cold

Thursday, October 11-


Opener Tom Brosseau said it best when he remarked, “The Punch Brothers are a great group of guys. [They are] handsome and well dressed and keep the bus tidy.”

The bluegrass quintet along with Grammy-winning mandolin player Chris Thile played at the Blue Note this past Tuesday night, Oct. 9.

However, right after Brosseau finished his opening act, Blue Note employees brought out a box of tissues along with a few water bottles which they placed on the stage next to the front microphone. This brought up a slight agitation amongst the audience members as we debated if it was possible that one of the band members might be sick and if the music would have been affected by it. However, we had to wait until the band came out to perform.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned Brosseau played extremely beautiful music with a strikingly unique voice. The best way I could describe it is taking a sip out of an ice cold, refreshing glass of water while only expecting it to be at room temperature.

At first, I thought his music could add a little energy. The first couple of songs he played really did not do much for me. But then I started paying attention more to the lyrics, and I was blown away by the absolute beauty of them, especially in the song “How to Grow a Woman from the Ground”. “Lines just as deep as the days are long” and “now I’ll sew up my skin and sew the land with my blood” really made me stop and think.

After the brilliant lyricist and occasional story teller (between songs) Brosseau finished, the Punch Brothers walked onto the stage and got ready to play.

As the band prepared to play their first song, “Movement and Location”, I realized that the band’s lead singer Thile was standing at the microphone next to the box of tissues. However, they began to play, and Thile began to sing; and from that moment on everyone in the audience knew that he would not let any sickness get in his way of performing.

Even though he did show some effects from being sick later in the performance, he addressed the audience to speak about the “two-ton chest cold” that he had. Then he symbolically put his hands up to his mouth and pretended to take out the “throat demons” and threw them in the air, after which he proceeded to lift up his middle finger and continue on with the performance.

The live performance itself was unbelievable. It seemed like each member of the band got three or more solos each, each one more intense than the other. I also got the feeling that they were sort of improvising a bit and challenging each other to try new things that they had not tried before.

Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge commented, “In our music there’s improvising, so [a certain part of a song] is going to be different every night. He continued to say, “When we play some of these songs on the road, it gives us an opportunity to expand them a little bit, or over time we realize that there is something . . . we could add to a certain part that we haven’t discovered [that] there was something to add yet.”

Throughout ridiculous mandolin and fiddle solos, the Punch Brothers added a funk and rock influence to their bluegrass style, and Thile did not miss a beat the whole night. The crowd really appreciated his performance, and you could tell that he appreciated us as well.


-Ian Stratta

Staff Writer

The Prowl