Nickel Creek says no more recording, touring

Nickel Creek says no more recording, touring after 2007: Nickel Creek, the innovative and influential bluegrass-folk-Americana (hard-to-niche) group has announced they will no longer be recording together and that a tour scheduled for 2007 will be their last for an “indefinite” period of time. In other words, they are breaking up, but leaving an opening for performing together in the future. The news is breaking with an article on Billboard.com and with an announcement on the Nickel Creek website.

Quote from Billboard.com:

“After seven years straight of touring and three records behind us, it’s in our best interest to suspend Nickel Creek by the end of next year,” says group member Chris Thile, noting that he and Sara Watkins have been in Nickel Creek since they were eight years old. “If we were to go in and do more writing, we might be in danger of forcing that process,” he continues. “It’s always been so natural, but lately it hasn’t been quite as natural and we’re running the risk of actually having to break up. We would rather leave it for a while, while it’s still intact and healthy. We want to tell people about it now to dispel rumors and so that our fans aren’t taken by surprise.”

Quote from NickelCreek.com:

Dearest Listener,

After seven years of extensive touring in support of three records (seventeen years as a band), we’ve decided to take a break of indefinite length at the end of 2007 to preserve the environment we’ve sought so hard to create and to pursue other interests. It has been a pleasure to write, record, and perform for you through the years and we’d like to heartily thank you for your invaluable contribution to our musical lives.

Yours,
Nickel Creek
(Sean, Sara, and Chris)

Over the past five years, I’ve mentioned Nickel Creek on this blog several times. While Nickel Creek — a brother and sister, Sean and Sara Watkins, and Chris Thile — are from southern California and their record label is in North Carolina, their “business” is one based in Nashville and what they have created here represents the best of what Nashville is and could be.

So who’s the Yoko Ono in this news? Anyone who has followed the group closely knows the over-sized talent of the individuals in the group has resulted in several independent projects. Brother and sister Sean and Sarah regularly perform in southern California as the Watkins Family Hour and Sean has released three CDs (ITMS link), the last two of which are an extreme departure from the Nickel Creek sound. Sara has an angelic voice and is a solid fiddler who, as a solo act, would instantly be among the top female bluegrass, folk artists. According to Billboard.com, “Sara Watkins plans on collaborating with other friends and groups, as well as releasing a self-produced solo album within the next six months.”

However, I’m guessing this breakup is about mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile‘s desire to push the boundaries of his talent which appear to me to be without limit. Over the years, on this blog, I’ve hyperventalated with praise for Thile. (Below, I link to some flashbacks.) On my iPod/iTunes, I have a playlist with all of the tunes that I have on which he plays — he’s a in-demand studio musician in addition to his Nickel Creek and solo recordings. I’m sure that I have only a portion of his discography (I can’t find a definitive discography online) but my playlist of his performances include over six hours of music.

The announcement of their breakup corresponds with the release of a new CD by Chris Thile and a band he’s created called How to Grow a Band. (Here’s his MySpace site. Others in the band: Chris Eldridge [guitar], Greg Garrison [bass], Noam Pikelny [banjo] and Gabe Witcher [fiddle].) It’s hard to realize that Chris is just 25, as he’s been recording independently and with the two other members of Nickel Creek since he was 12 — including six solo albums. Indeed, some of the early recordings are among my favorites.

Related links:

  • Nickel Creek website

  • MySpace.com/ChrisThile
  • Sean Watkins’ website and MySpace/seanwatkinsmusic
  • +Creek”>Sugar Hill Records

  • Recent articles about Thile:

    “Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile: His solo effort, divorce and finding bluegrass inspiration in the White Stripes” | The Coloradan.

    “Nickel Creek fans shouldn’t sweat it that front man Chris Thile has yet another solo album coming out this fall. “It’s very normal for bluegrass musicians to have a lot of irons in the fire,” said Thile in a recent phone interview from Peoria, Ill. where the band was just starting another leg of its American tour. “You’re not going to find the project that’s so fulfilling that you’re not going to look around for something else to do. When you really love music it takes a lot to satisfy you.”

    Nickel Creek’s Thile ‘grows’ a new band |Nashville City Paper, August 23, 2006

    “Like the character in the album, Thile’s wounds may have healed, but that doesn’t mean How To Grow a Band is a one-project collaboration. Thile said Nickel Creek will be taking the fall off and he plans to throw himself entirely behind cultivating his new band.

    Rexblog flashbacks:

    July 10, 2002:

    “How does one begin to describe (Chris Thile’s) talent? Other-worldly? Godlike? On a stage with three other titans of accoustical music, Chris Thile tranformed his mandolin into something beyond magical. Chris Thile reminds me of Pete Maravich. In the way Pistol Pete redefined what ball handling is all about, Chris Thile is in the process of changing the way the world perceives the mandolin.”

    April 21, 2005:

    “I’ve heard him perform with Nickel Creek in front of 10,000 people at Dancin’ in the District and at the Ryman during the taping of a PBS special, and with Mark O’Connor at the Ingram center at Vanderbilt, but I must admit, hearing him from about four feet away in a basement concert is perhaps the most incredible musical performance I’ve ever witnessed.”

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