All posts tagged: Nickel Creek

Saturday Music: Quarantine Essentials

Eleven years ago I posted a short series on More to Come entitled Five Albums for a Desert Island. It was a way to expand on a Facebook challenge at the time to list your five favorite albums. And while the original posts sound slightly dated, they nonetheless stand up pretty well in describing five albums that have shaped my musical interests. I thought about these albums again in this time of global quarantine. If I had to choose only five albums to have on my live-stream for a long period of sheltering-in-place, how would these do? Well, I think I could more than live with these five…I’d still very much enjoy them! Yes, I would miss not having Nickel Creek‘s self-titled 2000 album to enjoy. (Click the link to read the recent NPR article about the album: “How Nickel Creek made Americana the new Indie Rock.”) And I love The Best of John Hiatt. Nonetheless, with the original five I would not only survive, but would thrive. I’ll encourage you to go back and read the …

Saturday Music: Sara Watkins

This Saturday I’m wrapping up my feature on the three members of the roots music trio I’m With Her, with this look at the gifted fiddler, singer, and songwriter Sara Watkins. Watkins is probably the best known of the trio’s members, due to her status as a founder and fiddler with the Grammy-award-winning and highly influential progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek, where she debuted in 1989 along with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile. Since 2007, when the band took an indefinite hiatus (broken by 2014’s 25th reunion tour), Watkins has played both solo gigs and in a variety of groups including, of course, I’m With Her. In addition to singing and playing fiddle, she also plays ukulele and guitar, and played percussion while touring with The Decemberists. With her brother Sean, Sara has also hosted the Watkins Family Hour, which has been described as an “oasis from the rigors of the road, a laboratory where they can try out new material, or master beloved cover songs.” The monthly show is held at the Largo …

Long Hot Summer Days

This seemed like an appropriate tune to feature on a weekend when the temperatures have approached 100 degrees, and the heat index is off the charts. I’ve loved Sara Watkins’ version of this John Hartford tune since she released it on a solo album.  Here she plays it with her old band mates from Nickel Creek. If you want to hear Sara play this by herself, with a little Hartford-like foot-tapping rhythm thrown in, take a look here. Enjoy…and stay cool. More to come… DJB

Favorite Roots Music Albums of 2015

I’m not going to pretend that this is a “best of” list for roots music in 2015.  With so many things thrown on my plate this year, I  haven’t had the time to sample as widely as I would like.  (Come to think of it, the last time I felt comfortable enough to publish a “best of list” was 2013!) But I’m very comfortable with a favorites list that just says, “Hey, I like these and I hope you will too.” So with that caveat, let’s see what’s made the cut. The SteelDrivers:  The Muscle Shoals Recordings – I’ve loved this Nashville-based bluegrass band for years, even as they have moved through personnel changes that included their lead singer and main songwriter.  (More on that later.)  The Muscle Shoals Recordings is really the first album where Gary Nichols stepped out on his own as the lead voice for The SteelDrivers – no longer in Chris Stapelton’s shadow. Singer-songwriter Peter Cooper describes it this way: Right there, at two minutes and ten seconds into the first …

Haven’t Missed a Beat

Seven years after their “Farewell for Now” tour in 2007, Nickel Creek – the precocious bluegrass child prodigies who’ve grown into some of the best progressive string band musicians of this or any generation – reunited this year for their 25th anniversary tour. You may ask how a band with players in their early-to-mid-30s has a 25th anniversary tour.  Well, mandolin mad man Chris Thile was nine when the band first formed, and neither of the Watkins siblings were teenagers back in 1989. It doesn’t really matter.  I’m just glad they’ve come back together for this tour.  And I was thrilled to see this group of talented musicians – anchored by veteran bass player Mark Schatz – last evening in Charlottesville. I was at the downtown mall pavilion for the 2007 farewell tour…and I was at the same place for the reunion last evening.  If you don’t believe me, I have the t-shirts to prove it! In addition to the reunion tour, Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins, and Schatz released a new CD …

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 …

Eating Our Way Through New England

From Blue State Coffee in Providence, where Claire and I are enjoying a couple hours relaxation after an early morning wake-up and drive, here are some reflections on the good food found in New England on our trip. Sorry Blue State, but the best coffee we found – hands down – was at Bard Coffee in Portland, Maine.  (That’s not really fair to Blue State, since neither Claire nor I are actually having coffee here…she’s into a great blueberry smoothie and I’m having a delicious iced tea, so we’ll rate them best smoothies and tea…but I digress.) We had breakfast at Bard two days in a row and our various cups of coffee and pastries were terrific.  Everything is fresh and the staff is incredibly friendly.  Plus, when I came in on Thursday, they had Nickel Creek’s The Fox coming out of the speakers, and on Friday, it was Old Crow Medicine Show followed by Alison Krauss and Union Station playing the great Jerry Douglas tune We Hide and Seek.  How can you not love …

Shuffling Off to…the Swim Meet

Today I took some time off to serve as a timer at the swim meet for Andrew’s school.  I do this every now and then to make sure I connect with that part of Andrew’s life during the school year, and because every parent needs to volunteer to make these meets work.  It was great fun and Andrew dropped time in all his races.  I even got to time him in the 500, when he beat his personal best.  What fun. But this post isn’t about swim meets and getting your pants wet (which I did .  Those high school boys come in hard for the touch at the end.)  Nope, this post is about why I love the Shuffle feature on the iPod. I have about 3,500 songs or so on my iPod.  About 2,400 of them are in one playlist that I call “Americana.”  That’s where I dump in all my albums and iTunes purchases that have anything to do with bluegrass, acoustic music, country rock, Americana, blues, you name it.  I can go …

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 …