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Noam Pikelny has emerged as the preeminent banjoist of his generation. He is a founding member of Punch Brothers and was awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010 in addition to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year in 2014 and 2017. Universal Favorite (Rounder Records, 2017) is the fourth album Pikelny has released under his own name, but it is truly his solo debut. His previous solo efforts, including 2014’s landmark Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, were full-band affairs that revealed his abilities as a dynamic bandleader while reinforcing his reputation as an inventive accompanist—with both albums receiving Grammy Award nominations.
Multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan has built upon his bluegrass roots to become an artist who defies categorization and surpasses the limits of any specific genre. The consummate sideman, Duncan has lent his taste and tone to countless artists and projects. Whether trading dizzying instrumental licks with the likes of Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas, or adding complimentary fills for vocalists Alan Jackson and Barbra Streisand, Duncan has found a professional “home” both in the studio and on tour. His playing and influence can be heard among many of today’s top hit makers, from British singer-songwriter Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin to American rock band Panic! at the Disco.