Chris Thile and Nickel Creek (#401)

Three young bluegrass musicians known for musicianship, vocal harmonies, and innovation.

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With a track record that includes more than a decade as a band, two Grammy nominations, and a listing by Time magazine as one of five “Music Innovators for the Millennium,” Nickel Creek is well on its way toward establishing itself as a respected veteran group. Yet at the time of this performance, from the 1998 Kentucky Folk Festival in Bardstown, two members of the band were still in their teens and the other was in his early 20s.

Nickel Creek’s unique brand of contemporary acoustic bluegrass has been dubbed “youthgrass.” The group was originally conceived of as a pure bluegrass band, but members Chris Thile, Sean Watkins, and Sara Watkins agree that their sound has turned out to be “a conglomeration of everything we listen to.” Chris further explains, “It’s like having paintbrushes in all different sizes and shapes. Each brush paints color in a different way. What we’re trying to do is grab a really interesting brush and then blend all the various colors of all the genres of music we love.”

This Jubilee performance, which includes Chris on mandolin; his father, Scott Thile, on upright bass; Sara on fiddle; and Sean on guitar and mandolin, shows off the band’s phenomenal musicianship and songwriting abilities.