The Steve Martin Charitable Foundation has selected Punch Brothers banjo player Noam Pikelny as the winner of the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Earl Scruggs, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka and Béla Fleck were on the committee that selected Pikelny, who will receive “an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created expressly for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl.” Martin describes Pilkeny as “the extraordinary banjoist for the Punch Brothers, playing not only traditional bluegrass, but classical, rock and jazz oriented music. He is a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision.” Martin adds, “This award has been created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music. It is hoped that by highlighting the extraordinary musicianship of these artists, that bluegrass, and bluegrass-related music will enjoy an increased appreciation world-wide.”

Martin will see Pikelny in action on November 4, when Punch Brothers join him for a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman.