Live at The Ludlow Garage, 342 Ludlow Avenue, Cincinnati, OH
8pm, Buy Tickets
On March 3, preeminent banjoist Noam Pikelny – considered by many to be the finest of his generation — released Universal Favorite, his Rounder debut. In celebration of his release, Pikelny will embark on a solo tour that commences this week in Bellingham, WA. Stops include Denver, Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles, and conclude in Nashville in early April.
Pikelny is a founding member of Punch Brothers, the renowned multiple Grammy nominated group. He was the recipient of the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010.
Universal Favorite is the fourth record Noam Pikelny has released under his own name, but it’s truly his solo debut. His previous solo efforts—including 2014’s landmark Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe—were full-band affairs that revealed his abilities as a dynamic bandleader while reinforcing his reputation as an inventive accompanist. The new release features only the man himself, playing lovely originals and covers that showcase his unique approach to the instrument and compositional flair. He recorded them live in the studio without accompaniment, coaxing a wide array of sounds and colors out of his instruments, embracing the challenges and exploring the new possibilities of the solo setting.
And, for the first time in his career, Pikelny even sings. It turns out he has a striking deadpan baritone that conveys humor and melancholy in equal measure. This album, he says, “lays bare my musical core. It was born out of a one-man live show I started doing last year. The banjo shines in a band setting but is capable of so much more when it’s not competing for sonic real estate. It can be warm, the notes can sustain. I began writing instrumental music that would stand alone but soon it become clear that I also needed to bring in songs. I didn’t want this to become a banjo recital. Backing up a singer and playing to serve the song is such a huge part of my musical fabric. That had to be part of this record.”
Universal Favorite also marks Pikelny’s debut as a multi-instrumentalist. In addition to his 1941 Gibson Banjo, Pikelny plays a carefully chosen assortment of vintage and exotic instruments that includes a four-string resophonic guitar from 1928, a 1953 Telecaster, and a 1938 Kalamazoo flat-top guitar. An obsessive collector of vintage instruments, Pikelny is fascinated by the insights they provide into bygone days-the way these objects connect the present with the past.
Garden & Gun premiered the album stream of Universal Favorite today. Dacey Orr says, “Pikelny’s distinctive baritone and varied instrumentation allow each track, including the album’s four cover songs, to take on a vulnerable, deeply personal quality.”
Rolling Stone Country also offered fans a taste of Pikelny’s live performance when they debuted the video for “Old Banjo.” Andrew Leahey enthuses, “In a genre filled with top-notch pickers, Pikelny is a truly stunning instrumentalist, mixing the three-fingered attack of Earl Scruggs with the rule-breaking, all-genres-welcome attitude of Bela Fleck. Oh, and just for good measure, he plays a mean guitar, too.”
Universal Favorite is available March 3. A full list of tour dates is below.
3/2 The Green Fog Bellingham, WA
3/3 The Triple Door Seattle, WA
3/4 Musical Instrument Museum Phoenix, AZ
3/5 McCabe’s Guitar Shop Santa Monica, CA
3/8 eTown Hall Boulder, CO
3/9 Vilar Performing Arts Center Beaver Creek, CO
3/10 Wheeler Opera House Aspen, CO
3/11 Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill Denver, CO
3/13 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, MN
3/14 Des Moines Social Club Des Moines, IA
3/15 Old Town School of Folk Chicago, IL
3/17 Old Rock House St. Louis, MO
3/18 Live at the Ludlow Garage Cincinnati, OH
3/19 The Kent Stage Kent, OH
3/20 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI
3/22 Carnegie Lecture Hall Pittsburgh, PA
3/24 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
3/25 Harold Prince Theatre Philadelphia, PA
3/26 Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center w/ Steep Canyon Rangers Great Barrington, MA
3/27 The Stone Church Newmarket, N
3/29 Barns at Wolf Trap Vienna, VA
3/30 Isis Asheville, NC
3/31 The Earl Atlanta, GA
4/1 Modlin Center for the Arts Richmond, VA
4/3 Savannah Music Festival Savannah, GA
4/4 Barking Legs Theater, Chattanooga, TN
4/5 Bijou Theatre w/ The Wood Brothers Knoxville, TN
4/7 3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN