All posts tagged: Chris Thile

Saturday Soundtrack: Aoife O’Donovan

This Saturday I’m featuring the second of the three members of the roots music trio I’m With Her, the gifted singer and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. A native of Newton, Massachusetts, O’Donovan grew up spending her summers in Ireland and singing songs with her extended family. She studied contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music, and joined together with another classmate, plus two Berklee College of Music alums, to form the alternative-bluegrass band Crooked Still. That band, and their impressive debut album Hop High, was where I was introduced to O’Donovan.* Fiddler Brittany Haas (sister of Saturday Music musician Natalie Haas) and cellist Tristan Clarridge joined the band in 2008. Their version of When First Unto This Country is a lively tune representative of O’Donovan’s work during this period. The band is now on hiatus as the members pursue other projects. Many people know O’Donovan through her song Lay My Burden Down, which Alison Krauss included on her Paper Airplane album. For several years, the soulful O’Donovan tune Oh Mama, from her debut solo album Fossils and heard in this live version from …

Christ Thile

Acoustic music is alive and well

“When you go to heaven and hear singing, it will sound like these three women.” So opined Chris Thile after the Americana trio I’m With Her finished a short yet moving set in the first half of an incredible three hours of music last evening at the Kennedy Center.  The concert hall’s acoustics were ringing all evening as the sold out crowd not only enjoyed the beautiful harmonies from I’m With Her’s Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, but also the instrumental talents and music-making of mandolinist extraordinaire Thile and the Punch Brothers, along with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyers, virtuosi of the banjo and upright bass respectively. The Kennedy’s Center policy against photography leaves me using old photos from other concerts, but that hardly matters. The music was the focus last evening. Thile was invited to curate a four-day American Acoustic Music Festival, and Friday evening’s show was clearly the headliner.  The Punch Brothers  opened the first half of the show with a tight set capped by the raucous Rye Whiskey.  I’m With Her followed, with …

Red Wing III: A Quick Look Back

After 12 hours of music on Saturday at a sold-out Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimneys Park, I’m going to let the photos speak for Day Two of the festival, with only a few quick observations thrown in along the way. Scott Miller is a terrific songwriter and a good performer with a great sense of humor.  Is There Room on the Cross for Me? was only one of a number of smartly written songs in his set.  Fiddler Rayna Gellert was also a find.  Check them out. I liked Missy Raines and the New Hip better when they were all acoustic.  The electric guitarist was good, but her music lost some of its subtlety and just became more noise.  That said, she’s still a terrific bass player out flexing her chops and trying new things…and that’s all good. I’m not sure who booked Nikki Lane for a prime 6 p.m. slot on the main stage, but to my ear a little of her honky tonking trash from Nashville went a long way.  …

The Sound of Genius

I opened the paper this morning to the wondrous news that Chris Thile – celebrated l’enfant terrible of the mandolin – was one of the 2012 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grants. You gotta love it when a kid who starts off in bluegrass ends up being recognized as a MacArthur “genius” – the popular term for the winners of the $500,000, no strings attached annual award. Here’s the description from the MacArthur Foundation website: Chris Thile is a young mandolin virtuoso and composer whose lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements from a range of other musical traditions is giving rise to a new genre of contemporary music. With a broad outlook that encompasses progressive bluegrass, classical, rock, and jazz, Thile is transcending the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres in compositions for his own ensembles and frequent cross-genre collaborations. Although rooted in the rhythmic structure of bluegrass, his early pieces for his long-time trio, Nickel Creek, have the improvisatory feel of jazz; his current ensemble, Punch Brothers, evokes the ethos of classical chamber …

A little Bach on the mandolin

The Fretboard Journal just posted this wonderful video on their Facebook page.  It features mandolin phenom Chris Thile playing the Bach E Major Prelude on his Dudenbostel mandolin.  I found the video compelling not only for the beautiful music but also because of the way it highlights Thile’s amazing right hand pick techniques. The guy is incredible.  Enjoy. More to come… DJB

Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile To Release First CD Together

Double-bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolin phenom Chris Thile are set to release their first CD together on September 23rd on Nonesuch Records.  Entitled – appropriately enough – Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile , the new release brings together two of the most amazing instrumentalists of their respective generations of acoustic musicians.  My friend Scott Gerloff and I had the chance to see Meyer earlier this year when he played in Washington with Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas.  The show was terrific and Meyer was phenomenal.  We were both slack-jawed.  And I’ve written to countless friends through the years following Nickel Creek concerts with accounts of some amazing piece of musicianship from Thile.  Needless to say I’m looking forward to this collaboration. The Nonesuch site provides a good background on both musicians: Throughout a lifetime of performing and composing, Edgar Meyer has turned the double bass into a modern virtuoso instrument that is equally at home in classical music and in the American vernacular. In 1994, Meyer became the first bassist to win the Avery Fisher Prize. …

Interviews with Dobro Master Jerry Douglas

My father sent along the news that WPLN public radio in Nashville featured an interview on August 18th with Dobro master Jerry Douglas that some readers will find interesting.  The interview and an on-line web extra are available at WPLN’s web site.   Many of you will recognize Douglas’ name from his work with Alison Kraus + Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, but those of us who’ve been listening to bluegrass and new acoustic music since the 1970s know that he’s played with just about everyone – from the Country Gentlemen (his first professional gig as a teenager), to J.D. Crowe and the New South (with bandmates Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs), to Boone Creek, to Nashville session man extraordinaire from the 1980s on.  At least one regular reader of More to Come thinks Jerry Douglas is God.  If you want to see him live, go to YouTube to see this great set from Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival featuring Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas. This posting reminds me that I haven’t made my quarterly update on …