or the first time in musical history an instrumental made it to the top of the Album Oriented Rock charts. It’s kinda fun that it was done by a band from my old home town, San Diego’s own Nickel Creek.
Calling Chris Thile (pronounce it THEE-lee with a ‘TH’ like ‘thumb’ and you’ll make him very happy) a ‘mandolin player’ is like calling Chet Atkins a ‘Country Guitar Player.’ I get blisters just listening to him. My own Fender mandolin should be arriving any day now. Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.Nickel Creek is bluegrass with an attitude. Nickel Creek is acoustic rock making a left turn in Albuquerque. Nickel Creek is doing what Jorma Kaukonen, Bela Fleck, and Stephane Grappelli did: creating a very new dimension to a very old genre. Members fiddler Sara Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins, and mandolin player Chris Thile have been playing together professionally since they were in elementary school. Listening to a live radio broadcast on KPRI right now, it’s obvious they’ve made effective use of the time.
On August 7th, “Smoothie Song” made it to the pinnacle of the AAA chart; the first instrumental ever to do so. Named on the spur of the moment because the vendor at the fair delivered their smoothies just as they finished polishing the tune in their car, “Smoothie Song” was really going to be called something like “I Just Met the Girl I’m Going to Marry and Made a Complete Jerk of Myself” but they figured that wasn’t exactly a ‘radio friendly’ title.
Individually, the members of Nickel Creek have performed or recorded with The Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Bela Fleck, Glen Phillips, Lyle Lovett and others. Rolling Stone included the band in their “Best of 2002” while Time Magazine featured them in the music innovators special in May of 2000, naming them one of 5 Music Innovators for the Millenium. Both their albums were produced by the angelic bluegrass/pop legend Alison Krauss.
Their website is stuffed with the kind of info that fascinates me. Give it a visit, and read about three remarkable musicians with a passion for their music—and for life.