Noam Pikelny takes Steve Martin prize
Friday, September 10, 2010
– Noam Pikelny has won the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, an award created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music.
Pikelny is a member of the Punch Brothers. The prize is awarded to a person or group who has given us a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation. They should be professional or semi-professional, should be currently active in their careers and deserving of a wider audience.
"Noam is the extraordinary banjoist for the Punch Brothers, playing not only traditional bluegrass, but classical, rock and jazz oriented music," commented Steve Martin. "He is a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision," he added.
The honoree will receive an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 plus a bronze sculpture created expressly for the prize by Eric Fischl.
The award is determined through a private process by a board consisting of Earl Scruggs, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck and Steve Martin. The award is funded personally by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation.
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Noam Pikelny is the most ingratiating musical iconoclast you're likely to come across. He has deep roots in the Americana genre, and his playing, on banjo in most contexts, is precise and brilliant. Pikelny has produced a string of outstanding solo records, most recently "Universal Favorite." Despite the success of these solo efforts ("Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe" was an IBMA Album of the Year and received a Grammy nomination), Pikelny is best known for his ...
Born of a joke between musicians about the album title, banjo player Noam Pikelny's latest solo offering is an engaging take on a classic bluegrass instrumental album from fiddler Kenny Baker. One of the best known of Bill Monroe's many fiddle players, Baker's original album came out in the early 1970's and featured many of the Bluegrass Boys along with Monroe himself, playing songs that they had made famous in the bluegrass scene. Pikelny, a member of Punch Brothers, ...
Go ahead and insert a banjo joke here, the comedic side of me says, since Noam Pikelny won something called the 2010 Steve Martin Prize for excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, but it's hard to make fun of someone who has taken the oft-maligned instrument to new heights of melodicism and musical invention.
Pikelny is best known these days for his role in the Punch Brothers, the post-Nickel Creek refuge of Chris Thile. His band mates appear throughout this new solo outing and Punch Brothers ...