The Little Willies/Punch Brothers

SXSW Showcase Reviews

The Little Willies
The Little Willies (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The Little Willies/Punch Brothers

Antone's, Friday, March 15

God bless the Little Willies for returning Norah Jones to her Texas roots, because a voice that amazing deserves a little twang. "We put most of our Willie songs in the set tonight, so you might say we're a little Willie heavy," she quipped midway through before launching into a growling and raucous "I Gotta Get Drunk." The all-star quintet shines on country standards by remaining loose in performance but tight in execution, allowing a lightness that lifts even its heaviest cuts. The harmonies between Jones and Richard Julian on "Lovesick Blues" rippled high and lonesome, while Jones slowed Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" with a stunningly wanting ache and tender torture matched by Julian's take on "Permanently Lonely." "Jolene" proved to be the showstopper, however, with Jones' pitched pleading rivaling Dolly Parton's original. Chris Thile's supergrass quintet, Punch Brothers, followed, making its SXSW debut in a fury of strings. The band's at its best working in the dynamic range of a live set, Thile's vocal drifts able to morph and bloom on "Movement and Location" and through the mercurial rolls of "Who's Feeling Young Now?" While Thile's metaphors push limits in songwriting, the band's constantly contorting breakdowns and closing stomp of "Rye Whiskey" moved with perfect organic interplay.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

More Punch Brothers
SXSW 2012 Records
Punch Brothers
Who's Feeling Young Now? (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, March 16, 2012

More Music Reviews
SXSW Thursday Record Reviews
Lift to Experience
The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads (Record Review)

Michael Toland, March 17, 2017

SXSW Thursday Record Reviews
Ecstatic Vision
Raw Rock Fury (Record Review)

Michael Toland, March 17, 2017

More by Doug Freeman
SXSW Music Live: Garth Brooks
SXSW Music Live: Garth Brooks
Stage antics get winded but not his bestselling catalog

March 19, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Conqueroo Day Party
SXSW Music Live: Conqueroo Day Party
ATX hootenanny sends beloved PR maven out with a bang

March 19, 2017


The Little Willie, Punch Brothers

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)