Noam Pikelny is a modern, cutting-edge banjoist as well as a vocalist. He is a member of the Americana "country-classical chamber music" group Punch Brothers. He played with the band Leftover Salmon from 2002 until 2004, when he left to join in the John Cowan Band. Towards the end of that time, Chris Thile of Nickel Creek was planning to form a string quintet, but did not know what direction he wanted to take it except that he wanted it to include fiddler Gabe Witcher. After Thile had a jam session with Witcher, Pikelny, bassist Greg Garrison, and guitarist Chris Eldridge, he decided he had his lineup.
The group, then called the How to Grow a Band, debuted in 2006 as the backing lineup for Thile's solo release How to Grow a Woman from the Ground as well as the following supporting shows. The band eventually changed its name to Punch Brothers (borrowed from a short story by Mark Twain) and released its first official album as a band, Punch, on Nonesuch Records in 2008.
Pikelny was the recipient of the 2010 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. On November 5, 2010, he appeared on Late Show with David Letterman playing a comedic version of "Dueling Banjos" alongside Martin, and later performed with Martin and Punch Brothers. Pikelny currently resides in Brooklyn.