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In this week’s episode of the ArtistWorks Music Series podcast, our Director of Content & Production, Marcus Luscombe guest-hosts an exclusive conversation with founding members of the Punch Brothers and ArtistWorks bluegrass instructors Chris Eldridge and Noam Pikelny. Together, they discuss the Punch Brothers’ latest album Hell On Church Street, which was recently released on January 14, 2022. They cover topics ranging from the conceptualization of the album to its unique recording process, the band’s first post-lockdown tour to support the release, and more. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts, or you can listen here at ArtistWorks.

 

LEARN MORE: Want to learn banjo from a master musician like Noam Pikelny? Try some free online banjo lessons now!

 

As delineated in the album’s liner notes, “Hell On Church Street is a group reimagining of Tony Rice’s solo masterpiece Church Street Blues.” To describe the album as a prolific and inspired reimagining of Tony’s work is an understatement.

 

This 12-track record is the first album consisting solely of cover songs that the Punch Brothers has released to date. Collectively, the band describes Tony as their greatest musical influence, and Church Street Blues as having made a profound impact on them as musicians. As such, they were “compelled to cover it in its entirety with the objective of interacting with it in the same spirit of respect-fueled adventure as Tony.”

 

“We made this record in November of 2020, and it had been the longest drought that we’d ever experienced as far as being able to see each other and play music,” Noam explains. “Pretty late in the planning process, we realized that we were only going to have 2 weeks to make a record from start to finish, which is tight. A year prior, we played a set at Rockygrass 2019 that consisted of Church Street Blues performed in its entirety. So, we decided to revisit that idea and run with it.”

 

LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass guitar from a master musician like Chris Eldridge? Try some free online guitar lessons now!  

 

Tony Rice was influential to so many bluegrass musicians around the globe, and the Punch Brothers are no exception, but he was a hero to Chris Eldridge in particular. The Punch Brothers envisioned recording this Church Street Blues tribute album with the idea that Chris would hand-deliver a copy to Tony to thank him for his influence and contributions to music. Unfortunately, because of Tony’s untimely passing, the band was unable to see that vision through.

 

“We recorded Hell on Church Street in November 2020, and Tony passed away on Christmas day 2020,” Chris explains. “I had thought about calling him or sending him a text shortly after we recorded the album to tell him about the tribute and what we had planned. But, I didn’t because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. Unfortunately, Tony passed before we had the opportunity to share it with him in that way, but our goal was to engage with this material with the same energy that he did, and, in that way, pay tribute to a hero.”

 

To learn more about the Punch Brothers’ making of Hell On Church Street, listen to the full podcast here:

 

 

If you’re interested in studying the banjo and learning more about Noam’s approaches to musicianship and playing, check out his online banjo lessons right here at ArtistWorks. If you’ve always wanted to play bluegrass guitar, learn to flatpick with Chris through his online guitar lessons!

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTWORKS MUSIC SERIES:

On the ArtistWorks Music Series, co-founder Patricia Butler speaks with master musicians across all genres who teach at ArtistWorks. Join them as they dive deep into topics like becoming a musician, playing at all skill levels, and the journey of learning music.

 

Looking to dive into more music podcasts? You’ve come to the right place. Investigate previous episodes where plenty of topics are explored with fantastic, hand-selected, and knowledgeable guests.

 

Want to get started on overcoming the roadblock on your musical journey with our online music lessons? Try out some free sample music lessons with any of our master musicians and learn from the best!

 

READ MORE:

ArtistWorks Music Series: “The Musical Levy Family”—Howard Levy Interviews His Parents

Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Lesson: Learn to Play “Shady Grove” with Chris Eldridge

ArtistWorks Music Series: How to Find Your Own Sound—Noam Pikelny

 

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