UPDATE 1/14/21 1:33 p.m.: Three events tied to UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures series were rescheduled, and the Punch Brothers’ January 18 show will now be on Tuesday, April 5, at 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall.
ORIGINAL STORY: Every music group touring in 2022 faces an existential question: How do we reconnect with the audience and each other? For the Punch Brothers, the answer has come through a new recording that finds them returning to their roots in bluegrass.
The new Punch Brothers album, Hell on Church Street, drops on Friday, January 14. It’s a track-by-track cover of an entire 1983 album, Church Street Blues, by the great bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice, who died in 2020.
When the band takes the stage at Campbell Hall on Tuesday, January 18, to kick off the UCSB Arts & Lectures winter season, they will bring a sense of belonging. They will embrace the tradition of bluegrass music and the idea that shared experiences, like beloved reference points, can heal the effects of isolation.
Each group member has some personal connection to Rice. Their adventurous, post-modern musical language is impossible to imagine without the wide-open experimentation that Rice and his cohort initiated more than 40 years ago. Punch guitarist Chris Eldridge was a college student when he took private lessons with Rice. Rice taught Eldridge that collaboration is the highest priority in any musical endeavor.
Suppose you’ve seen the Punch Brothers before. In that case, you know that Chris Thile, Gabe Witcher, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny, and Chris Eldridge achieve a unique degree of collective integrity in their live performances. As in the most significant jazz ensembles, there’s an intuitive sense of shared direction that transcends mere virtuosity. With that in mind, now is a great time to join them in person and experience the profound sense of belonging that great music inspires. And if that seems a stretch due to health concerns, UCSB Arts & Lectures has got your back with a livestream of the concert available to ticket holders. For tickets, visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu or call (805) 893-3535.