Artist Spotlight: Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek have been together for over 25 years, if you include their hiatus. The band is made up of siblings Sara and Sean Watkins and their family friend Chris Thile. Vocals are sung by all, Sara plays the violin, Sean on guitar, and Chris on mandolin. They’re newgrass/alt country/progressive bluegrass and I love them.

They were still bright shiny young things when they released their self-titled album, Nickel Creek produced by Alison Krause in 2000, which featured 3 singles. They received their first Grammy nomimation for Best Bluegrass Album and Best Country Instrumental for the song “Ode to a Butterfly”

my fav from this album is “The Lighthouse’s Tale”, and to this day never fails to get me a little verklempt.

Their next album, This Side released in 2002, won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. It was a departure from their previous releases which were purely bluegrass. Although the core influence of bluegrass remained, other genres such as indie rock and folk rock were present in their music. This album included a cover of Pavement’s “Spit On A Stranger”

My favourite is the title track “This Side”.

Next is Why Should the Fire Die, from 2005, nominated for 2 Grammy’s and the first not to be produced by Alison Kraus. The lone single “When in Rome” starts the album

though my fav is “Can’t Complain”.

It was shortly after they release this album that I became aware of them as a band. And I loved them, instantly. Something about the combination of instruments and voices strikes a chord in me in a way no other has. And of course it was the next year, 2006, that they announced the band would be taking a hiatus. The tour in 2006-2007 would be their last for a while. There was a greatest hits compilation released, but my heart broke thinking I’d never get to see them live.

Sara did her own solo thing, Sean did his, Chris collaberated as part of the Punch Brothers (among other projects) and in 2012 was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship.

In early 2014 they announced their reunion, much to my great surprise. Imagine my delight when I heard of the new album and supporting tour! I got tickets 3 minutes after they went on sale for the Seattle and Portland stops and nothing was going to stop me seeing them.

And another great cover on this one, Mother Mother’s “Hayloft”

The live performances were better than I could ever have imagined. They play so well together, their harmonies are incredible, their stage patter was delightful. I would see them again in a heartbeat if they ever plan another tour. They’ve gone back on hiatus but who knows. In 8 or 10 years they might get back together. And you can bet I’ll be there!

If you care to watch, here are 2 parts of their 2014 tour, a stop at a House of Blues (complete with fangirl squees!).


Or if this floats your boat you can check out their Tiny Desk Concert.

When I volunteered to do an Artist Spotlight I joked that it would likely be youtube videos interspersed with fangirling squees. I think I did just a bit better than that. So thanks for reading/watching! And check them out, I highly recommend them!