For his next CD, Noam Pikelny will be paying tribute to a bluegrass legend paying tribute to a bluegrass legend. Confused? Let me explain. His upcoming album (due October 1 on Compass Records) is Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe and it is his rendition of the Kenny Baker album Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.
The Kenny Baker in question here is not the English actor who portrayed R2-D2 but the great fiddler who was longtime member of Bill Monroe‘s band. In 1976, Baker released this album, on which he played a dozen of Monroe’s tunes. The Grammy-nominated Pikelny will do the same thing but he will be interpreting Monroe’s mandolin-based tunes on the banjo instead of the fiddler as Baker did. Pikelny’s main band the Punch Brothers is known for doing some clever musical endeavors but I’ve never heard of a concept album like this before. Assisting Pikelny on this project is an A-team of bluegrass players: Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), and Mike Bub (bass).