Chris Thile, genius. But you knew that

A photo I took of Thile (singing) on August 30, 2006 at Nashville’s Belcourt Theater. Thile started his post Nickel Creek era with this group called, “How to Grow a Band.” Except for the legendary bluegrass guitarist, Bryan Sutton (right), the group evolved into the Punch Brothers.

This is not a music blog, but its 12 readers know that at least one musician has been written about consistently here during the past decade: Chris Thile. As Thile was named a MacArthur fellow today, the “no-strings-attached” $500,000 award known popularly as the “Genius Grant“, I thought I’d help the 12 readers of this blog to waltz (accompanied by mandolin, of course) down memory lane.

And come to think about it, there was a string, no, make that eight strings,  attached to Chris Thile’s genius grant.

Here are some past RexBlog Thile-related posts and reviews:

11/10/2003: In a review of Mark O’Connor’s 2003 release, Thirty-Year Retrospective: Live, I wrote the following about Chris Thile:

“How does one begin to describe his 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. His name should be Chris Thrille.”

4/21/2005: Photo and post from 2005 of a performance in the Nashville club called “The Basement” where Thile was trying out some of his own material (independent of Nickel Creek) and some stuff composed by others (Bach’s Sonata No.2 in A-minor for violin, for example). For several songs in the 50-seat venue, his fellow Nickel Creekers, Sara and Sean Watkins, along with a guy who plays the banjo named Bela Fleck, sat in. (Note: I guess I should mention that the Fleck fellow has 13 Grammys.)

11/30/2007: My account and video from Nickel Creek’s last concert performance (so far). The video I shot of the group singing I’ll Fly Away with some additional legends joining in is the most viewed video I’ve ever posted.

2/26/2008: Review of the first Punch Brothers Recording (on

There’s more, if you care to click around.