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Matt's Acoustic Artist of the WeekNickel Creek


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#1 Matt B

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 01:33 PM




Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek consists of Sean Watkins (guitar/vocals), Sara Watkins (fiddle/vocals) and Chris Thile (mandolin/bouzoki/banjo/vocals). The three kids (Sara and Sean are brother/sister) started playing togeather in 1989 in San Diego, Sara and Chris were 8, Sean was 12. When they first started out Chris's father, Scott, joined them on bass.


The three friends soon developed a reputation as excellent musicians while touring on the festival circuit during the 90's. Chris Thile recorded two albums during this time span 1994's Leading Off... and 1997's Stealing Second. In 1998, with help from Alisson Krauss, they landed a record deal with the roots label, Sugar Hill. They subsequently released thier debut album, Nickel Creek in 2000. After the release, Scott retired from the band.

Though Nickel Creek is a very bluegrass oriented album, there are elements of Jazz, Classical, and Rock mixed in with it. The album's lyrics also depart from the traditional bluegrass style..."Then we started writing songs. An honesty issue arose at that point: Like, we probably shouldn't necessarily write songs set back in the hills about moonshine and coal-miners," says Thile. The albums lyrics (and infact all of the band's lyrics) instead deal with issues that seem more normal for teenagers in America. However, they don't focus solely on angst or love and many of their songs branch out into the realm of fantasy or history. Thier song writing remains fresh and is easy listening, not getting old even after many repitions.

However, in listening to the band, it is obvious that their strength lies not in their lyrics or singing, (though none of the three are bad singers, their voices are not classically good, instead fitting in with the songs feel) it becomes rather obvious that the three are all phenomenal musicians. Many of the songs on the album are instrumentals that flow perfectly, the three instruments blending well.

In 2001 both Thile and Sean Watkins released solo albums, Not all who Wander are Lost and Let It Fall respectively. I have never heard either of the albums, (though Let It Fall is pretty high on my to buy list) so I can't comment on them directly.

Their sophomore effort, This Side, was released in 2002. It debuted in the top 20 on the pop charts and hit #2 on the country charts. This album is, if possible, even more electic than their previous one. The second track on the album is a cover of Pavement's "Spit on a Stranger", an odd cover for a bluegrass/folk band to be sure. However strange it may be, the band pulls it off beautifully. Their arrangement of the traditional song "House Carpenter" is wonderfully folky and a high point of the album. This Side won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in early 2003, after which Sean issued his second solo album, 26 Miles.

In 2005 they released thier 3rd album Why Should The Fire Die. While still a good album, it departs from thier bluegrass roots even more than the other two albums did. It was nominated for a Grammy this year in the "Best Contemporary Folk Album" category.


While the studio albums are good, the band's improvisational strengths play directly into their exremely excellent live preformances. If you ever get a chance to see them, do it. They don't allow trading of taped shows, so I have nothing in that regard to share with anyone. However, I've seen them live and they are excellent. Well worth checking out.

note: They are doing a UK tour this month, so if you are on that side of the pond GO AND SEE THEM!!!!!!!!!!


Songs to check out: "Lighthouse's Tale" "House of Tom Bobadil" "House Carpenter" "Sabra Girl" "This Side" "Green and Gray" "Somebody More Like You"

Albums: well, they only have three, so you should get them all wink.gif The best is Nickel Creek then This Side then Why Should The Fire Die. That's not to say that any of their albums are bad, that's just my personal preference of order. It should also be noted that I own all their albums.


sources for this post include Nickelcreek.com and allmusic.com


Next week: my all time favorite band, Leftover Salmon

Edited by matt_theripper, 05 February 2006 - 01:34 PM.


#2 mad_cow711

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 01:44 PM

amen. everytime i listen to "lighthouse tale"or "the hand song" i get all teary-eyed... and i think the first time i heard anything from them was on pbs- the smoothie song was playing during the credits for some show, i don't remember which..

Edited by mad_cow711, 05 February 2006 - 02:38 PM.


#3 Father Fonz

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:53 AM

I have to say, your choices of good music is excelent especially as you've not shyed away from choosing 'popular' artists.

Once again, great work a cracking read.

#4 Will_Wood

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:08 AM

I really rather like these guys. Brilliant choice.
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#5 Will_Wood

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:14 AM

Also, I'd really rather like them more if they did more vocals, because I love the sound of their vocals.
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#6 Father Fonz

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 02:27 PM

Thanks for the heads-up about the UK tour, I never would have realised otherwise. Im hoping to pick up 2 tickets for a late Valentines present.. tickets are running out fast though

#7 Matt B

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 02:53 PM

QUOTE (Will_Wood @ Feb 6 2006, 12:14 PM)
Also, I'd really rather like them more if they did more vocals, because I love the sound of their vocals.



I agree about liking the vocals. My brother wasn't a huge fan of thier vocals, but I love them.

Though, I really dig thier instrumentals as well.

#8 Matt B

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 11:16 AM

The Leftover Salmon web-site is down, so I may have to wait to do that one until later. Unless the site comes back up by the end of the week, I'll be doing someone else. Possibly Drew Emmitt or Sting Cheese Incident.

Edited by matt_theripper, 07 February 2006 - 11:25 AM.


#9 Father Fonz

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 04:46 AM

I may have missed it.. but what happened to Matt? I personally enjoyed his weekly posts.

#10 PingerFicker

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 08:08 AM

Big fan of Nickel Creek here. I am going to see them april 12th in Laramie, WY at the University of Wyoming. I really like how they evolved with their new album. I think that it is a good change. I really like "somebody more like you" and "helena." Very cool stuff.

#11 Will_Wood

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 12:08 AM

MATT! Where the hell are ya, mate? We need you to make some more of these posts!

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#12 Beachgirl

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 12:35 AM

Saw them in december, Sara AND Chris (and their warm up act Andrew Bird) all signed my violin Boo... the greatest honour a little 50 dollar instrument has ever rec'd! They were so nice, and have you heard their cover of Britney's Toxic? Awesome.

Great choice Matt smile.gif
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#13 PingerFicker

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 08:31 AM

QUOTE (Beachgirl @ Mar 31 2006, 01:35 AM)
Saw them in december, Sara AND Chris (and their warm up act Andrew Bird) all signed my violin Boo... the greatest honour a little 50 dollar instrument has ever rec'd! They were so nice, and have you heard their cover of Britney's Toxic? Awesome.

Great choice Matt smile.gif



They have the cover of Brittney Spear's Toxic on their myspace page. They do really good imitating the sounds and music that the song has. I can't link the myspace page cause of the stupid firewalls here at work, but someone might be able to here. They have some other cool songs on there too.

#14 PingerFicker

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 11:31 AM

Went and saw Nickel Creek in Laramie, WY last night. Man do they put on a show. It had all the attributes of a really great show, and it was a REALLY great show. I still cannot get over how great an instrumentalist, singer, musician, and entertainer Chris Thile is. They all have those attributes, but Chris to me stood above the rest. They did some really good covers, a song by Radiohead (can't remember what song) and Toxic by Brittney Spears, and both were outstanding. I am suprised that the bass player does not get as much credibility, because he is freakin awesome. I have been a fan of Nickel Creek for a while, and I can honestly say that anyone who likes any genre of music will have a great time at their concerts. If Nickel Creek does so happen to be in your vicinity performing, do NOT miss this show, you will regret it.

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#15 Matt B

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (PingerFicker @ Apr 13 2006, 01:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am suprised that the bass player does not get as much credibility, because he is freakin awesome.
PingerFicker



I assume you are talking about Mark Schatz? He is not actually thier bass player. He's a very in demand session player and gets tons of respect from the acoustic circles.

#16 Matt B

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 11:52 PM

Could a mod unpin this please?

#17 ninjato

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 10:03 AM

I like Nickel Creek...how can I not like something Alison Krauss produces.

That said, I liked their first album the best, then it seemed to get worse and the ideas seem to "run out" on their latest album. It was a big difference between the latest album and their first one.

Lyrically, I can't get into it although their instrumental prowess is excellent. Maybe I'm too old, but their lyrics don't move me like Alison Krauss' lyrics/voice does. Hearing Alison live almost brings me to tears, it's so beautiful.



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