This week’s Song of the Day posts come from Theo Hoffman. Theo is a young baritone who has appeared in several NYFOS Emerging Artist, NYFOS Next and gala programs over the past couple of years, and we’re sure we’ll hear a lot more from him in the years to come. Thanks, Theo!
Familiarity – Punch Brothers
The Punch Brothers are somewhat unclassifiable. The band is deeply rooted in bluegrass tradition, but happens to be made up of complete virtuosi, so their output incorporates classical elements galore. Chris Thile was a child mandolin prodigy, and in 2006, brought together this musical phenomenon. He recalls, “We got together one night just to drop a ton of money, drink too much wine, eat steaks, and commiserate about our failed relationships.” Great start if you ask me.
Nick Katz, a good friend of mine and phenomenal bass player for the band Caverns, turned me on to these guys back in 2010. However, I wasn’t bitten by the Punch bug until this past spring. I was on a gig in Portland, ME with the Symphony. I was in a bit of a lonely rut. It was the evening before the performance, and I was walking home when I saw on a poster that the Punch Brothers would give a concert that night. I happily shelled out whatever nominal fee would perhaps make me feel better. It worked. These guys restored my happiness and faith. I found myself swaying, weeping, and foot-stomping to this energetic, cheeky, wondrous music.
They happened to be touring their newest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, which had come out only a few months prior. It features some of what I believe to be their best songs, and also includes selections by Debussy and Scriabin. “Familiarity” has quickly risen to the top as my favorite. It is an epic suite in four distinct sections (or ABCA’ if you want to be formal about it). It depicts the rise and fall of a love between two people, specifically in the age of information and social networks, an age which is gradually making real love more and more difficult to achieve and keep. The heart-melting final section is worth the entire song, so even if you’re not hooked at first, stick with it. This gives me life when I need it.