Tag Archives: Chris Thile

Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers to Perform Special Concert at Carnegie Hall

Nickel Creek – Photo by Josh Goleman

Chris Thile will conclude his season-long Debs Composer’s Chair residency at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The special one-night-only performance at Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, includes his celebrated acoustic groups Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers on the same bill for the first time.

Punch Brothers – Photo by Josh Goleman

Nickel Creek
Chris Thile, mandolin
Sara Watkins, fiddle
Sean Watkins, guitar

Punch Brothers
Chris Eldridge, guitar
Paul Kowert, bass
Noam Pikelny, banjo
Chris Thile, mandolin

Wednesday May 8 at 8:00 PM
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall
57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York


Artist Profiles: Chris Thile

Chris Thile


Chris Thile was born in Santa Mónica (California) on February 2, 1981. He’s a renowned mandolin virtuoso who has performed since a very young age with some of the biggest names in contemporary bluegrass. Chris was a founding member of The Grass is Greener with Richard Greene and David Grier and also a member of Nickel Creek together with Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins.



Thile began playing the mandolin at the age of 5 and started performing at California bluegrass festivals. At the age of 12 he won the prestigious national mandolin championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas in 1993. That same year Thile began recording his first solo album with mostly self-penned songs.

His third solo album Not All Who Wander Are Lost featured guest appearances by Dolly Parton, The Dixie Chicks and Edgar Meyer. Later, Thile teamed with mandolin master Mike Marshall for an album of duets called Into the Cauldron that included jazz, world music and the music of Bach.


Chris Thile in 2013 – Photo by Brantley Gutiérrez


When you grow up with something you can become so familiar with it that you start to take it for granted ” Chris Thile said about his 2006 album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground. “And especially when you grow up playing it at a time when quite frankly you have nothing to express it’s easy to ignore as a more mature musician the expressive possibilities of that particular musical aesthetic—and they are great they are many. So I came to see that bluegrass was something that I was unfairly dismissing about my musicianship.

“Part of it was getting divorced and realizing that I was singing bluegrass heartbreak songs. That’s what would really resonate with me; those were the songs I was singing—’Bury Me Beneath The Willow ‘ ‘More Pretty Girls Than One.’ And another part of it was living in New York because for me at least New York demands that you find what it is about you that’s unique. There are so many talented people—exceptional people—that to stand out you either have to be completely average or really really different. And having been trained in the ways of bluegrass as a kid I realized how much that meant to me. I felt you can’t fight yourself—any time you’re fighting yourself you might not lose but you just can’t win. And I realized I do that well because that’s what I grew up with. So it signifies a return of sorts; I’m realizing what a meaningful part of my life that music is.”

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground included young musicians with a great reputation in bluegrass music, including fiddler Gabe Witcher whom Thile had met at the Follows Camp festival; banjo virtuoso Noam Pikelny; guitarist and singer Chris “Critter” Eldridge; and bassist Greg Garrison.


Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer


In the following years, Chris Thile collaborated with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, guitarist Michael Daves, Stuart Duncan and many other musicians. He also started a new band called The Punch Brothers.




In late 2016, Chris Thile became the new host of A Prairie Home Companion, a popular radio theater show featuring music, humor and storytelling that is broadcast by public radio stations across the United States.



Little Cowpoke, with Nickel Creek (1993)

Leading Off… (Sugar Hill Records, 1994)

Here to There, with Nickel Creek (1997)

Stealing Second (Sugar Hill Records, 1997)

Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill Records, 2000)

Not All Who Wander Are Lost (Sugar Hill Records, 2001)

This Side, with Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill, 2002)

Into the Cauldron, with Mike Marshall (Sugar Hill Records, 2003)

Deceiver (Sugar Hill Records, 2004)

Why Should the Fire Die?, with Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill, 2005)

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)

Live: Duets, with Mike Marshall (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)

Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile (Nonesuch Records, 2008)

Punch, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2008)

Antifogmatic, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2010)

Sleep with One Eye Open, with Michael Daves (Nonesuch Records, 2011)

The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan (Sony Masterworks, 2011)

Who’s Feeling Young Now?, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2012)

Ahoy!, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2012)

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas 1 (Nonesuch, 2013)

A Dotted Line, with Nickel Creek (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

Bass & Mandolin, with Edgar Meyer (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

The Wireless, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2015)

The Phosphorescent Blues, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2015)

Bach Trios, with Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch Records, 2017)


Essential Techniques for Mandolin (Hal Leonard 2005) 85 Minute DVD or VHS plus music and tab booklet
Bluegrass Journey documentary (Blue Stores, 2005)


Chris Thile Revealed As New Host of “A Prairie Home Companion”

Chris Thile - Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
Chris Thile – Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

American mandolinist Chris Thile will replace author and storyteller Garrison Keillor as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion. Starting October 15, 2016, Thile will host a new 30-week season with 13 new, live broadcasts, produced shows and repeats on public radio stations throughout the United States.

The only live music and variety show currently aired in the United States, A Prairie Home Companion is a popular Saturday night radio presentation. The show includes musical performances and comedy.

A Prairie Home Companion will continue to be broadcast live on Saturday nights from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as from theaters across the United States. Each of the new live shows will contain a mix of well-known and up-and-coming musicians, humor with sketch comedy and spoken word, plus an original “Song of the Week” composed by Thile.


Mandolin Virtuoso Chris Thile Named 2012 MacArthur Fellow

Chris Thile
Mandolin maestro, singer, and composer Chris Thile, has been named a MacArthur Fellow. Thile was among the 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2012, selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The annual fellowship, often referred to as the “Genius” grant, offers an unrestricted award of $500,000—$100,000 for each of the following five years—to individuals who, in the Foundation’s words, “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the Fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world.”

Chris Thile has elevated the mandolin from its origins as a relatively simple folk and bluegrass instrument to the sophistication and brilliance of the finest jazz improvisation and classical performance.

It’s such a vote of confidence, ” says Thile of the Fellowship. “The first thought is just, ‘I don’t deserve this. Surely there’s been some mistake. You do know I play the mandolin, right?’ The next thing is, ‘I must work hard enough to deserve this. I have to step up my game. I don’t want to be the odd man out on this list.’” He continues, “I feel like my best work, it’s sort of like a tent, it’s not really recognizable as anything that could be useful. And then all of a sudden, after all of this setup, it all comes up at once. I like the results, when I get the time to do that. And I think I’m going to have more time to do that.”

For more than 15 years, Thile played in the band Nickel Creek, with whom he released three albums, Nickel Creek, This Side and Little Cowpoke, and sold two million records. Punch Brothers, which was formed in 2006 and also features four other virtuosic musicians—fiddler Gabe Witcher, banjo player Noam Pikelny, bassist Paul Kowert, and guitarist Chris Eldridge—released its first Nonesuch record, Punch, in 2008, followed by Antifogmatic in 2010 and Who’s Feeling Young Now? in 2012.

Nonesuch released Thile’s self-titled duo album with bassist Edgar Meyer in 2008 as well and Sleep with One Eye Open, his duo album with guitarist Michael Daves, in 2011. Chris Thile’s mandolin concerto, Ad Astra er Alas Porci, was first performed in 2009 and received its Carnegie Hall premiere earlier this year.

Watch the MacArthur Foundation video on Thile here:

For more on the MacArthur Foundation and a complete list of this year’s Fellows, visit macfound.org.

Punch Brother 2012 U.S. Tour Dates

October 2, The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH

October 3, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI

October 4, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

October 5, Gramercy Theatre, New Yorker Festival, New York, NY

October 7, The Paramount, Huntington, NY

October 8, Kent Stage, Kent, OH

October 9, The Blue Note, Columbia, MI

October 11, Mulberry Mountain Harvest Fest, Ozark, AR

October 12, La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX

October 13, Austin City Limits, Austin, TX

October 14, The Parish & House of Blues, New Orleans, LA

October 16, Memorial Hall, University of NC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

October 17, The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

October 18, Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA

October 19, Shoals Community Theatre, Florence, AL

November 25, Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA

November 26, Tower Theatre, Bend, OR

November 27, Laxson Auditorium, Chico, CA

November 29, Napa Valley Opera House, Napa, CA

November 30, Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz, CA

December 1, The Luckman Arts Complex, Los Angeles, CA

December 2, Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, CA

December 4, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA

December 5, The Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ

December 7, The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT

December 8, Wheeler Opera House, Aspen CO

December 9, Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO

December 11, Beaumont Club, Kansas City, MO

December 12, First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

December 13, The Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL

December 29, 30, 31, Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

February 1–4, Mountain Song at Sea 2013, Norwegian Sky, Miami, FL


Chris Thile to Perform at Carolina Theatre of Durham on November 13

Chris Thile
Mandolinist Chris Thile is set to perform at Carolina Theatre of Durham in North Carolina on Sunday, November 13th, 2011, at 8:00 pm.

Mandolinist Chris Thile, a charismatic prodigy, is best-known for the mainstream success of his audacious string bands Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers. With Bach in one ear and Radiohead in the other, Thile is positioned to steward bold new directions in bluegrass. In this solo performance at the historic Carolina Theatre, he showcases sparkling original tunes alongside Bach Partitas that he transcribed for mandolin, galvanizing them all with a famously deft touch.

Chris Thile, mandolin
Sunday, November 13 • 8 pm
Carolina Theatre of Durham (309 West Morgan St.)
Tickets: $38 • $30 • $5 Duke students

Tickets for all concerts on sale through Duke Performances’ website: www.dukeperformances.org, at the Duke University Box Office on the top level of the Bryan Center, or by calling (919) 684-4444.


The Goat Rodeo Sessions Brings Together Musical Maestros

The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolinist Chris Thile and fiddler Stuart Duncan will be releasing The Goat Rodeo Sessions on Sony Masterworks. The Goat Rodeo Sessions is a landmark album project by four of the great instrumentalists in music today. While each musician is a renowned superstar in his own music sphere, they have come together now as a unified ensemble on a most remarkable and organic cross-genre project stemming from their friendship, and the title concept.

A goat rodeo, according to Urban Dictionary, “is about the most polite term used by aviation people (and others in higher risk situations) to describe a scenario that requires about 100 things to go right at once if you intend to walk away from it.” Meyer first heard it used by his longtime music copyist in reference, he recalls, to “a very chaotic situation where a lot of agendas are kind of confused, and it’s hard to tell up from down.”

Relating it to The Goat Rodeo Sessions participants, all four lead extremely demanding if not chaotic lives in terms of scheduling, at least, making their meeting here, while much desired, still a near goat-rodeo miracle. But “goat rodeo” proved a perfect catch-all, too, in describing the otherwise hard-to-define nature of the quartet’s music.

The song arrangements are goat rodeos,” says Thile, the young lion of the bluegrass mandolin, whose playing has fueled the progressive acoustic trio Nickel Creek and his current group, The Punch Brothers, and who collaborated with his multi-music genre hero Meyer on the 2008 album Edgar Meyer And Chris Thile. Adds Meyer, “We get a lot of pleasure in arrangements that have just enough twists and turns that you really can’t let your guard down – like each little thing has to go right: If I trip on one thing, that’s going to throw Chris, and then that’s going to throw Yo-Yo, and then Stuart’s going to have to make up a whole new part, because he’s not going to know where we are from what just happened!

Offering another analogy, Thile likens each song to a Rube Goldberg contraption, where each instrumental part helps set up a dizzyingly complex whole. Classical legend Ma, meanwhile, sees the “goat rodeo” as metaphor for “the mix, the very happy mix of personalities” that make up the project. “The mix of four people together could really be dicey,” he says. “But you’re building trust in a fabulous way through actually having lots of fun, but also supporting each other. To me, that’s the goat rodeo.”

The Goat Rodeo Sessions, then, is above all a product of the collaborative chemistry and communication between the players working, notes Meyer, toward “a harmonious whole.” “The mandate of a project like this,” he adds, “is that each person’s own personal voice is entirely intact: I’m not trying to sound like Yo-Yo, who doesn’t need to try to sound like anyone else, either. But at the same time you really want each individual voice to maintain its identity and integrity, so you have kind of a permanent goat rodeo in that sense, because we’re never going to become four of the same thing. That ain’t gonna happen!”

And as Thile notes, the four Goat Rodeo riders would never settle for “the least common denominator.” But Ma also speaks of the underlying sense of community and “shared sense of values” that characterized the sessions. Meyer attributes much of this to the group’s improvisational “co-authorship” of the music, much of which was created on the spot. “There’s quite a bit of interplay between the musicians in bringing each piece to life, from composing to figuring out our parts,” he says. Or as Duncan concisely puts it: “Everybody in the pool!”

The Goat Rodeo Sessions came about because Ma and Meyer are great friends, who both wanted to work together with Thile and Duncan, who were also longtime friends, Duncan having appeared on the then 12-year-old Thile’s first solo album. “Both Stuart and I actually play fiddle together for the first time on a recording on this album,” notes Thile, but he makes clear that this is just a side benefit.

Edgar made a good point that the four of us are here because each of us enjoys hearing the other three doing what they do best,” Thile says, “and these are the people that we want to hear! And the music was composed with that in mind, maintaining what’s special about the individual voices and trying to find something new as a group, within that context.”

The finished Goat Rodeo Sessions is something so musically new that the title works perfectly.

We want the freedom to not have the music immediately defined by a couple of words,” explains Meyer. “But at its root, Yo-Yo’s going for the same thing that Stuart’s going for, that Chris is going for–which is to completely internalize the music, and to play it without any kind of exterior references or even knowing what it is we’re going for, but with an easy agreement among the four of us in knowing when we get there.”

Ma offers final clarification: “In the end, what we’re trying to do is simply make music that transcends whatever roots or categories or backgrounds that it starts from–that just exists as something that we’re trying to express, through our community of values, as a moment in time creating very special music.”

Concludes Thile: “The Goat Rodeo Sessions just sort of sums it up.”


Nickel Creek Mandolinist Chris Thile Releases Solo Album

Chris Thile - How to Grow a Woman From the Ground
How to Grow a Woman From the Ground is the title of the new album by Nickel Creek mandolinist and vocalist Chris Thile. For the project, Chris Thile gathered together some of the hottest young players in the bluegrass and new acoustic scene: Chris Eldridge, Greg Garrison, Noam Pikelny, and Gabe Witcher- for a spirited run through tracks new and old. The CD will be available September 12th.

For How to Grow a Woman From the Ground, Thile decided to record the project live to two-track tape in order capture the energy of bluegrass as it originally evolved. Little separation. Virtually no compression. The communal feel of bluegrass that embodies raw energy and subtle harmonies expressing emotion without artifice.

Chris Thile is a member of the Grammy-winning acoustic trio Nickel Creek, which has sold 1.5 million records.

Late-August showcase dates for Chris Thile & The How To Grow A Band at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre, and Boulder’s Fox Theatre; as well as an IBMA showcase in

The album includes songs by The White Stripes (“Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground”), Gillian Welch (“Wayside/Back In”), Tom Brosseau (“How To Grow a Woman From the Ground”), Jimmie Rodgers (“Brakeman’s Blues”), The Strokes (“Heart in a Cage”), and more, including Chris Thile original songs and brilliant instrumentals-hearkening his landmark album Not All Who Wander Are Lost.

Buy How to Grow a Woman From the Ground and Tile’s other CDs: Not All Who Wander Are Lost, Live (with Mike Marshal), Deceiver, Into the Cauldron (with Mike Marshall), Stealing Second, and Leading Off….