How to Grow a Band

How to Grow a Band

A scene from HOW TO GROW A BAND, a film by Mark Meatto. Picture courtesy Shaftway Productions. All rights reserved.

How to Grow a Band

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How to Grow a Band (2011/2012)

Opened: 04/13/2012 Limited

Village East04/13/2012 - 04/26/201214 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Music Documentary

Rated: Unrated


Shot on location in Scotland, England and the United States, 2008 -- 2009. Featuring THE BLIND LEAVING THE BLIND, a four-movement suite for mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, double bass and voice. Written by Chris Thile.


In HOW TO GROW A BAND, 26-year-old Chris Thile is at a crossroads. His marriage has ended, and his platinum-selling band, Nickel Creek, has gone on "indefinite hiatus." But Thile, a perfectionist prodigy who's defied expectations since he learned the mandolin at age five, has a plan. Step 1: Write a 45-minute, four-movement elegy to your failed marriage to be played by a bluegrass quintet. Step 2: Recruit the only musicians around talented enough to play it and crazy enough to sign on. Step 3: Make a record, launch an international tour and brace yourself.

Filmed with uncommon access, HOW TO GROW A BAND provides a rare look at the start of one of America's most promising young bands and explores the tensions that test young artists: individual talents and group identity, craft and commerce, innocence and wisdom.

About Punch Brothers

Chris Thile (Mandolin & Lead Vocals)

Chris Thile has changed the mandolin forever, elevating it from its origins as a relatively simple folk and bluegrass instrument to the sophistication and brilliance of the finest jazz improvisation and classical performance. For more than 15 years, Thile played in the wildly popular band Nickel Creek, with which he released three albums, sold two million records, and was awarded a Grammy in 2002. Recently, Nonesuch Records released the Grammy--nominated Sleep with One Eye Open, an impassioned collaboration/conversation between Thile and guitarist Michael Daves, in which the upstart duo acknowledges the history and tradition of bluegrass while exuberantly defying convention. Thile also recently collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma for The Goat Rodeo Sessions. As a soloist he has released four albums, as well as performing and recording extensively as a duo with double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer and with fellow eminent mandolinist Mike Marshall. He has also collaborated with a pantheon of musical innovators from multiple genres including Bela Fleck, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks, Brad Mehldau, Hilary Hahn, and Gabe Kahane. Punch Brothers released their new album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, February 14, 2012, on Nonesuch Records. Completed over three weeks at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, the record was produced by Grammy Award winner Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse).

Noam Pikelny (Banjo & Vocals)

Noam Pikelny (born Noam Pikelny) hails from Chicago, IL where he picked up the banjo at the age of 8. He studied old-time and bluegrass banjo at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Throughout high school, he played all over Illinois and Indiana with several traditional bluegrass bands, who occasionally required him to wear a uniform. Noam studied music theory at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. In 2002, he became the principal banjoist with the award-winning Colorado ensemble Leftover Salmon. His debut solo record, In the Maze, was released on Compass Records and made a splash in the world of postmodern progressive threefinger style five-string banjo. He starting performing and recording with mandolinist, fellow Cubs fan, spiritual advisor, and life coach Chris Thile in the fall of 2005. In 2010, actor-banjo player-author Steve Martin awarded Pikelny the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, calling Pikelny, "a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision." In 2011, Pikelny released his second solo disc, Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail. The record captures an artist as he unveils a developed and assured voice as musician and composer. Pikelny is backed by an all-star band of old friends and long-time heroes, including fellow Punch Brothers' Gabe Witcher and Chris Eldridge, bassist Mark Schatz, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, vocalist-mandolinist Tim O'Brien, dobro player Jerry Douglas and fellow banjoist Steve Martin -- all of whom boast impressive credentials along with Grammy nominations and other accolades in the worlds of bluegrass, folk and country.

Gabe Witcher (Fiddle & Vocals)

Gabe Witcher began his musical training at age five, learning classical violin and bluegrass fiddle simultaneously. By age six, he was performing professionally with his father in the bluegrass band The Witcher Brothers; over the next decade, he gained reknown as both a member of that group and as a multiple winner on the California competition circuit. In 1994, Witcher was recruited by veteran musician Herb Pedersen to fill the shoes of three-time national fiddle champion Byron Berline in the group The Laurel Canyon Ramblers. By age 17, Witcher was recording for heavyweights such as Randy Newman, Bernie Taupin, and producer Don Was. He has since contributed to more than 300 records and countless movie and television scores, including Academy Award winner Brokeback Mountain. Over the last five years, he has solidified his place at the forefront of the progressive acoustic music scene by playing with 12-time Grammy® winner Jerry Douglas.

Chris Eldridge (Acoustic Guitar & Vocals)

Although initially drawn to the electric guitar, by his mid-teens Chris Eldridge had developed a deep love for acoustic music, thanks in part to his father, a banjo player and founding member of the seminal bluegrass group The Seldom Scene. Eldridge later gained in-depth exposure to a variety of different musical styles while studying at Oberlin Conservatory, where he earned a degree in Music Performance. During his time at Oberlin, Eldridge studied with legendary guitarist Tony Rice. Before joining Punch Brothers, he was a founding member of the critically acclaimed bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters.

Greg Garrison (Double Bass & Vocals)

Greg Garrison has strong connections to the musical worlds of bluegrass, folk, jazz, and rock, and has been able to work with a wide range of musicians including Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Ron Miles, Del McCoury, Jayme Stone, Art Lande, Fred Hess, Rudy Royston, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton, and Vassar Clements. From 2005 until 2008, Garrison toured with mandolin virtuoso and composer Chris Thile, and along with Thile, was a founding member of the critically acclaimed chamber-bluegrass ensemble Punch Brothers. Greg has also been a member of Colorado bluegrass/rock band Leftover Salmon since 2000, recording three albums with the band and performing at venues and festivals across the U.S. like Red Rocks, Telluride Bluegrass, High Sierra, and Bonnaroo. He received his Master of Music degree in Double Bass Performance from the University of Northern Colorado, and his BM from the University of Illinois. He also holds a DMA in Jazz Studies from the University of Colorado, where he explored the common roots of all forms of American improvised music.

Paul Kowert (Double Bass & Vocals)

Paul Kowert is from Madison, WI and graduated from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. As a classical musician Paul has performed with various orchestras as a soloist and as a section member, most recently playing in the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland in the summer of 2008. He was one of the performers at Edgar Meyer's Carnegie Hall workshop in 2006, and since then has appeared in concert with Darol Anger's Republic of Strings, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, Alex and Tatiana Hargreaves, Futureman's Black Mozart Ensemble, Jordan Tice, Brittany Haas, and Jeremy Kittel. Paul can be heard as a member of the Big Trio with mandolinist Mike Marshall and violinist Alex Hargreaves, a group that released its first album in spring 2009.