Martin Guitars Factory Tour

Join John Bohlinger as he heads to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to take an inside look at one of the oldest manufacturers in the acoustic guitar business.

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Photo by Austin Steinsick at Phishbone Photog

An acoustic power trio that’s influenced as much by Tony Rice as they are by deadmau5.

With Lost at Last, the Jon Stickley Trio (with Lyndsay Pruett on fiddle and Patrick Armitage on drums) combine the ethos of a newgrass power trio with the energy and dynamics of a runaway train. Stickley’s powerful flatpicking gathers influences from the greats such as Tony Rice, but also allows for other, more modern, sounds to creep in. “Darth Radar” is a rapid-fire take that moves from a serious ska beat to burning surf-style runs that would make Dick Dale proud.

The tune combines two of Stickley’s favorite techniques—alternate picking and harmonics. “I used an alternate picking pattern that incorporates the open string with a pentatonic scale,” describes Stickley. “I also use the guitar's natural harmonics to create a melody over fretted bass notes that define the chord progression," mentions Stickley. Combine that with some EDM elements from Skrillex and deadmau5 and you will soon realize why this jam has become a crowd favorite at JST gigs.

Guitarist Chris Eldridge and mandolinist Chris Thile dig in during a show in Brooklyn, NY on June 30th, 2011.
Photo by David Andrako

The progressive acoustic outfit teams up with a legendary producer to create the band’s most wildly interesting album yet, The Phosphorescent Blues.

The Punch Brothers aren’t a bluegrass band. They aren’t an Americana band. And they sure as hell aren’t a country band. They are a quintet of forward-thinking virtuosos with a singular mission of breaking boundaries and crafting a sound that owes as much to Gustav Mahler as Bill Monroe. Even though they share the instrumental makeup of a classic bluegrass group, the Punch Brothers ethos has always been to look beyond the songbooks of their musical forefathers for inspiration and bring the influences of their own generation into the fold.

The Phosphorescent Blues, the band’s latest album, is an ample summation of their journey to this point. Even the order of the songs doesn’t follow norms. “I just said fuck it. Let’s open the album with a 10-and-a-half-minute song,” beams mandolinist and vocalist Chris Thile. That opening statement, “Familiarity,” combines the preciseness of a Mahler string quartet with the earnest storytelling and undeniable musicianship that make the Punch Brothers, well, the Punch Brothers.

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