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Punch Brothers was formed in 2006 by mandolinist/singer Chris Thile with four other virtuosic musicians: fiddler Gabe Witcher, banjo player Noam Pikelny, bassist Paul Kowert, and guitarist Chris “Eldridge. Their first Nonesuch record, Punch, was released in 2008 and combined elements of the band’s many musical interests, including indie rock, folk, jazz, bluegrass, and classical music. In 2009 they all moved to New York City and began a regular, standing-room-only, residency at the Living Room, trying out new songs as well as inspired covers; these shows ultimately spawned Antifogmatic.
Punch Brothers also featured on the T Bone Burnett–produced Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond album, including their own original, ‘Dark Days’. The band’s busy year included a month of U.S. dates with Paul Simon last fall, during which they regularly accompanied Simon for his encores. In addition to its year-round touring, Punch Brothers performed as part of T Bone Burnett’s Speaking Clock Revue concert; the band was nominated for two Grammys; Thile wrote and performed on the album The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan, with whom he also appeared on the Colbert Report and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno; Pikelny released a solo album, produced by Witcher and featuring Eldridge, Thile, and fellow banjo player and friend Steve Martin; and Thile released a duet album of traditional bluegrass tunes with guitarist/singer Michael Daves, which was nominated for a Grammy.