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Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail

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iTunes Review

The Punch Brothers’ picker, Noam Pikelny, branches out on his own for the first time since his 2004 debut, In the Maze. His 2011 sophomore outing, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, further emphasizes his five-string prowess. It’s a talent so awesome it prompted Steve Martin to award Pikelny the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music and landed him a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman. Martin joins Pikelny here on a rendition of the Appalachian standard “Cluck Old Hen.” The sprightly opener, “Jim Thompson’s Horse,” kicks off Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail as Pikelny’s fingers dance dexterously up and down the fretboard, slowing to dance with a mandolin as a stand-up bass keeps things grounded. “My Mother Thinks I’m a Lawyer” follows with a tinge of Tin Pan Alley–inspired sass before Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan pipes in on “Fish and Bird” with a lilting vocal reminiscent of Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins. Speaking of Nickel Creek, Chris Thile joins in the fun on “Bear Dog Grit.”

Customer Reviews

His Banjo is a machine gun....of love.

Once every 1000 generations a player comes along of such overwhelming power and genius as to bring a complete revolution in thought and practice.
The Chicago Cubs are still waiting for that player.
The record is awesome. How awesome? I had an early-mix version that Noam sent me, and I still bought the final one on iTunes. In these difficult economic times, I still shelled out $9.99.
iTunes charges 9Cents more for this record than for his previous recording, "In the Maze". It is definitely worth that extra 9cents.

Funny Or Die!!!

Bought this album after seeing the Funny or Die video - really cool music, amazing banjo playing. I really like Punch Brothers but it's cool to have the banjo as the focus. The Tom Waits cover is gorgeous and Steve Martin is great on the duet with Noam! Can't wait to hear more from Noam, if you like the Punch Bros you'll like Noam PIkelny too!

A True Banjo Great

I love this record. Noam Pikelny is right up there with Bela Fleck in my book. Some great guest vocals here too. If you like bluegrass related music, you've gotta hve this record in your collection.


Genre: Bluegrass

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A virtuoso five-string banjo player, Noam Pikelny was born February 27, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. His childhood, he has said lightheartedly, was split between the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and the Old Town School of Folk Music. He was already playing in traditional bluegrass bands while he was in high school, and went on to study music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, after which he moved to Boulder, Colorado. He joined the Colorado ensemble Leftover Salmon in 2002 (he remained...
Full Bio

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