Nickel Creek

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Nickel Creek
Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and Sean Watkins in 2003
Background information
OriginSouthern California, United States
GenresProgressive acoustic
Years active1989–2007
LabelsSugar Hill Records
MembersChris Thile
Sara Watkins
Sean Watkins

Nickel Creek was an American acoustic musical group. Although the group's music has roots in bluegrass, Nickel Creek now calls itself "progressive acoustic".[1] The band has three people: Chris Thile (mandolin), Sean Watkins (guitar), and Sara Watkins (violin). A fourth member also plays bass with the band. Chris Thile's father Scott Thile, Byron House, and Derek Jones have played bass with the group. Mark Schatz has played bass with Nickel Creek since 2003. The band has played songs by Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, and even "Toxic" by Britney Spears.[2] However, most of the songs the band play are originals.

History[change | change source]

The band started in California in 1989 with Scott Thile, Chris' father, playing the double bass. The oldest of the children, Sean Watkins, was only twelve years old at the time.[3] In the early days, Nickel Creek made two albums: Little Cowpoke in 1993, and Here to There in 1997.

Nickel Creek: 2000–2001[change | change source]

Alison Krauss produced the album Nickel Creek, which came out in 2000 on Sugar Hill Records. It was awarded a gold certification in 2002 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Nickel Creek got two Grammy Award nominations for the album: Best Bluegrass Album and Best Country Instrumental for "Ode to a Butterfly". Three singles, "When You Come Back Down", "The Lighthouse's Tale", and "Reasons Why" were released with music videos, and the first two were on the US Country chart. The album itself topped the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and reached number 125 on the Billboard 200.[4]

To help sell the album, Nickel Creek toured with artists like Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, and Amy Grant.[5][6]

This Side: 2002–2004[change | change source]

Sara Watkins, Mark Schatz, and Chris Thile in 2003

In 2002, This Side came out and it was also produced by Alison Krauss. It reached number 18 on the Billboard 200, and was also made gold by the RIAA.[7] This Side was different from the first album by adding more pop and rock. Chris Thile described the album in 2002:

"We're not content to just go a little farther. It's been three years since we recorded the first album, and I think people are forgetting that because all the attention has come in the last year. So the response is almost like, "Well, is it a concept record?" It certainly isn't; it's just who we are. People who ask that question have no concept of what we were like three years ago, before the first album came out. They also need to understand that [because of our youth], three years in our lives is a much larger percentage of how long we've lived. So there's going to be more change per year. We're growing and we're together all the time, so we're constantly trying to figure out new stuff."[8]

On the This Side tour of 2002 and 2003, Nickel Creek played shows as the main act for the most part, but also opened five shows for John Mayer in November 2002 in Upstate New York and New England,[9] and played with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings earlier in the year.[10] In 2003, Nickel Creek was on Béla Fleck's album Little Worlds.[11]

Nickel Creek also released three singles from This Side: "This Side", "Speak", and "Smoothie Song". "This Side" appeared on the US Country chart, but the others did not chart with Billboard. However, "Smoothie Song" topped the AAA Contemporary chart for three weeks.

Why Should the Fire Die?: 2005[change | change source]

Nickel Creek released Why Should the Fire Die? in August 2005. The album brought even more rock and pop to Nickel Creek's sound, just as This Side did. Chris Thile talked about the band's genre and style in a 2005 interview from JamBase: "We actually feel like more than a bluegrass band that stretched out. We are a band that incorporates bluegrass into our music. There's been a problem in perception. 'Bluegrass band leaves the fold' (uses a news announcer voice). No, no, no, no, no. Actually, it's a band that incorporates a little bluegrass into whatever the hell kind of music they play."[12] Sean Watkins also said:[13]

"Well, actually, I think this record that we’re doing, it’s not moving farther away from bluegrass, I mean – we’ve always been far away from our bluegrass roots, I don’t think this record is much farther away than the last one. It’s just different. This record – I think it sounds more like we do I think than anything we’ve ever done. It’s a lot more rock I think than our first two, and there’s some stuff that’s farther out than we’ve gone, and there’s some stuff that’s very, that’s more roots–oriented. So I wouldn’t say that the whole thing is farther away."

Farewell (For Now): 2006–2007[change | change source]

Sara Watkins and Chris Thile on the Farewell (For Now) Tour in April 2007

On August 28, 2006, Nickel Creek announced on their website that they would not be together as a band anymore. The message was:

"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."[14]

After the break was announced, a tour was scheduled. To say goodbye to their fans, the tour was named the Farewell (For Now) Tour, because the band does not know if they will get together again. The tour started in April 2007 and ended in November 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee. The tour had many guest appearances by musicians like Fiona Apple, Glen Phillips, Jon Brion, Bruce Molsky, Béla Fleck, and Tift Merritt.

When talking about Nickel Creek's last tour before the break, Sara Watkins said "A lot of the other stuff will be special in the way that anything is special when you realize that it’s not going to be around forever... Nothing is going be Nickel Creek except Nickel Creek. I’m not looking for anything to top this. It can’t be duplicated in my life."[15]

Awards and nominations[change | change source]

Wins[change | change source]

Nominations[change | change source]

  • 2001: Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album (Nickel Creek)
  • 2001: Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Ode to a Butterfly")
  • 2001: Country Music Association (CMA) Award for Best Vocal Group
  • 2001: CMA Horizon Award
  • 2005: Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album (Why Should the Fire Die?)
  • 2005: Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Scotch & Chocolate")

Discography[change | change source]

Studio albums[change | change source]

Year Album
1993 Little Cowpoke
1997 Here to There
2000 Nickel Creek
2002 This Side
2005 Why Should the Fire Die?

Singles[change | change source]

Year Song Album
  • "When You Come Back Down"
  • "The Lighthouse's Tale"
Nickel Creek
  • "Reasons Why"
Nickel Creek
  • "This Side"
  • "Speak"
  • "Smoothie Song"
This Side
  • "When In Rome"
Why Should the Fire Die?

References[change | change source]

  1. "Nickel Creek dares to branch out". The Source Weekly. July 14, 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  2. "The Complete List of Non-Album Originals/Covers". November 12, 2006. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  3. "Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins Blue Ridge Exclusive Interview". Blue Ridge. 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  4. "Nickel Creek chart positions". All Music Guide. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  5. Martens, Todd. "Grant, Gill Take Christmas On Tour" Archived 2012-10-24 at the Wayback Machine. Billboard. September 21, 2001. Retrieved February 3, 2008.
  6. Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins. "Nickel Creek Journals". Nickel Creek. August 17, 2000. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
  7. "Nickel Creek Certified Gold". CMT. September 11, 2003. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  8. "Nickel Creek Tackle Bluegrass Tradition and Pop Innovation on This Side" Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine. Barnes & Noble. August 16, 2002. Retrieved November 11, 2007
  9. Jeckell, Barry A. "Mayer Taps Randolph, Nickel Creek For Fall Tour" Archived 2012-10-24 at the Wayback Machine. Billboard. October 25, 2002. Retrieved February 3, 2008.
  10. Sara Watkins (Nov 19, 2002). "Nickel Creek Journals". Nickel Creek. Archived from the original on June 24, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  11. Jeckell, Barry A. "Flecktones Prep Ambitious Triple 'Worlds'" Archived 2012-10-24 at the Wayback Machine. Billboard. June 12, 2003. Retrieved February 3, 2008.
  12. Dennis Cook. "Chris Thile: Bringing In Some New Blood". JamBase. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  13. Cara Ellen Modisett. "Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins Blue Ridge Exclusive Interview". Blue Ridge County. Archived from the original on May 18, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  14. "Nickel Creek Official Website". Nickel Creek. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  15. "Bluegrass group Nickel Creek says farewell (for now)". Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  16. "Top 10 Country Compilations of 2006". CMT. December 22, 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2008.

Other websites[change | change source]