Friday, August 24, 2012

Noam Pikelny & Friends at Stage One 07.03.12

Part Two of my Fairfield Theatre Company shoots: Noam Pikelny and Friends. This concert was the reason behind the whole assignment. I'd see the Punch Brothers at Town Hall and Clearwater Festival and I was dying to get a real camera in to take pictures. I was absolutely blown away by their combined talent as a band, and each member is a virtuoso on their own. Noam, or "Pickles" as his band mates call him, is one of the most talented banjo players that has ever lived. What's most impressive to me is how effortless he makes it look.

I know bluegrass isn't for everyone. I have an irrational fondness for banjos, but I'm not alone in this. When I talk to other people my age, they say the same thing. While I'm still contemplating this topic for another post, I have an idea of who's responsible:

When the Punch Brothers aren't touring as a unit, they break off into their side projects and play smaller venues. Guitarist Chris "Critter" Eldridge plays with Pikelny while Gabe Witcher plays with Chris Thile. I was much more relaxed the second time heading into Stage One. The lighting was more even, so I was able to dial down my ISO to 12,000.

One of the things I love about these musicians is how smoothly they play off of one another. Each member will watch the soloist intensely and add to it.

There were more than a few moments where Pickles grinned on stage. He's usually so serious and stoic.

Critter appreciating the round of applause during his solo. I was in awe of his skills on guitar. Few people can rock that hard at all, let alone on acoustic guitar.

Folk singer Aofie O'Donovan came out to sing a few songs with the guys.

It was a very different audience at the Tuesday night show. Stage One was packed, but everyone remained seated for the show. It was much easier for me to get clear shots. Stage One doesn't have a designated area for photographers besides aisles and the stadium seating doesn't give much of a height advantage.

Pickles' deep bass voice addressed the crowd multiple times throughout the night. Although the band leader, he doesn't sing. I caught a couple of big smiles as the guys bantered back and forth.

This shot was the one we used for the paper and one of my favorites of the night. I think it captures his effortless talent.

The next series literally cracked me up. If you've seen the Punch Brothers play before, you'll know that mandolinist Chris Thile makes all sorts of faces and bounces around the stage when he plays. I can't say for certain if that's what these faces are about, but it was a great moment of interaction.


The last shot is up there for one of my favorites that I've taken this year. I love being able to photograph moments like this.

Critter and Aofie shared lead vocals in a song. Although he sings back up in the Punch Brothers, I'm going to start a campaign for him to get lead vocals on at least one track on their next album.

Similar to the show at Town Hall, the band unplugged and stepped off the stage for the final song of the night, an Earl Scruggs cover. I quickly changed to my fastest lens and highest ISO because the only light on them was from the stage, behind them. Yes, the Canon 5D Mark III can shoot in the dark. Such an amazing camera! I was thrilled to be able to capture these images, still without a distracting flash. You can really see how small Stage One is.

Another one of my favorites.

And of course, Noam's shoes.

I had an absolute blast at this show. My musical tastes cover quite a lot of styles, but I think what I am drawn to more than anything is the amount of passion the musicians have. I hope that comes through in the pictures.


  1. Wow! These shots are AMAZING. I'm in awe. Every time I think I find a
    favorite photo, I hit something later in the set that I totally fall in
    love with. You captured so many elusive
    Pickles smiles and grins! And of course, everyone else in Noam &
    Friends looks like they're having a blast, too. Thanks so much for
    taking and sharing these!

  2. These are absolutely incredible photos and yes, I believe you've captured the music and magic of these great musicians. 

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words, Amdrew!

  4. Kimber Lynn, I'm so glad to share these photos! Thanks for responding to them!

  5. These are a real treat. I am a bit obsessive about the Punch Brothers and especialy Noam, so I look at a LOT of photos of them, and these are some of the best I've seen. Thanks for sharing them!

  6. I agree the most fun I have at a live concert is when the musicians are having even more fun.  You captured that perfectly.