Noam Pikelny is one of the world’s greatest banjo talents. Perhaps best known for his work in the forward-thinking bluegrass band Punch Brothers, Pikelny made a name for himself as a solo artist after receiving the inaugural (and prestigious) Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass. Now, for the first time in his career, Pikelny is going completely solo leaving the accompaniment behind and letting his own striking baritone voice lead the way.
Noam Pikelny has emerged as the preeminent banjoist of his generation. He is a founding member of Punch Brothers, a 3-time Grammy Nominee and was awarded 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, “is the most personal statement I’ve put forward. The setting couldn’t be more stark and I think it lays bare my musical core. Most importantly, it’s an incredibly honest solo album, in that there are honestly no other people on this record other than me.”
Ladybird’s roots first took hold on a front porch in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now flourishing and spreading towards audiences all across America, Ladybird brings their unique and eclectic folk sound to the ears of many. Whether playing a show in someone’s living room or for a sold-out theater, the women of Ladybird bring their sweetness, humor, and talent to every song they sing.
Brought together by their mutual love of the traditional American songbook, Ladybird draws on their multi-dimensional background to create a sound that echoes like a wind through the Appalachian pines. Never limited to one style, they draw on European classicism, Swedish folk, jazz, bluegrass – anything is fair game for these girls! Their original material is informed by these textures and brought to life by their instrumental abilities, but thrice as nice are their voices; “Emoting deep from the back of their throats, each artist nuanced not only with the character of her instrument but also with the individuality of her vocals,” (Tri-State Indie).
Named one of Philadelphia’s best folk acts by WXPN, Ladybird has shared stages with prominent artists like Steep Canyon Rangers, JP Harris & Chance McCoy, and The Dustbowl Revival, and played prestigious venues and festivals such as Philadelphia Folk Festival, Tin Angel, and Chicago’s Uncommon Ground. Ladybird’s premiere EP, “Hey There, Ladybird!” was named in the Top Ten of 2016 on WPKN Radio Connecticut.