The Punch Brothers, with Chris Thile on mandolin, will be pushing bluegrass to the edge at the Moore Theatre Thursday, March 26. Seth Avett, half of American roots music band, the Avett Brothers, is in town Saturday, March, 21, with Jessica Lea Mayfield at the Neptune Theatre.
It’s a little inaccurate to call the Punch Brothers a “bluegrass” band, which is kind of like calling a Tesla Model S a “car.” Both the band and the electric vehicle represent an evolution in their respective fields.
The analogy seems especially apparent on their latest album, “The Phosphorescent Blues,” which was produced by T-Bone Burnett and starts out with “Familiarity,” a 10-minute, genre-bending masterpiece that compels with moments of frenetic jazz and soothing folk.
That unique blend of sophisticated roots and contemporary sounds will be on display at the Moore Theatre on Thursday, when the band brings its West Coast tour to Seattle.
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield
8 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $45- $47.50 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
The Punch Brothers
7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 26, at the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave, Seattle; $31.50 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
Nickel Creek founding member Chris Thile, one of America’s best mandolinists, heads the group, which also features session veteran Gabe Witcher on violin, Grammy-nominated banjoist Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge on guitar and bassist Paul Kowert. They’re all busy enough that they don’t need to get together every two or three years to cut an album and throw a tour together, yet they’ve managed to do just that four times since 2008’s “Punch.”
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Thanks to their willingness to switch from pop to bluegrass to jazz — often within the same song — the Punch Brothers have created something in “The Phosphorescent Blues” that demands your full attention like very few albums do.
Another notable American roots band, the Avett Brothers, is represented in Seattle this week by half the band, brother Seth Avett, who plays with Jessica Lea Mayfield. They play the Neptune Theatre on Thursday, March 26, in support of their new album, “Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith.”
Avett and Mayfield play their cards close to the vest on the album and come up with a bunch of songs that sound just like Elliott Smith, so much so that you’re not sure whether it’s reverence or apery. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also means the duo isn’t bringing much new to the table.
The lyrics from Smith’s “Between the Bars,” which opens the cover album, kind of sum it up: “The potential you’ll be that you’ll never see/The promises you’ll only make.”
Still, Saturday is a chance for fans to see one of the Avett Brothers up close. Last time the band played here, it was at KeyArena.