Chris Thile, Mandolin Virtuoso


Chris Thile, born in 1981, is an American mandolinist and singer-songwriter known for his folk and progressive bluegrass work in the trio Nickel Creek and the quintet Punch Brothers. He is also an accomplished classical musician. You may want to bookmark this post because there’s a lot of music here.

Thile was a child prodigy who begged his parents for a mandolin from the time he was 2 and picked up the mandolin for the first time at the age of 5. With his father, and Sara and Sean Watkins, he formed the acoustic group Nickel Creek in 1989, which became a trio when his father bowed out.

He also participates in the quintet Punch Brothers along with Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar), and Paul Kowert (bass).

Thile also performs solo. His style is variously described as folk, progressive, bluegrass, “newgrass,” and roots music.

My brother, Bill, told me about Thile years ago, but I didn’t start following him until I stumbled upon this video where he plays and sings with one of my favorite musicians, YoYo Ma, and others:

Thile was awarded BBC’s Folk Musician of the Year award in 2007, a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” award in 2012, and he has been nominated eight times for Grammy Awards, winning four Best Album awards in different categories in 1997, 2002, 2013, and 2015 (Bluegrass, Contemporary Folk, Folk, and Contemporary Instrumental, respectively).

A two-time guest host on Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, Thile was Garrison Keillor’s hand-picked successor. After allegations of Keillor’s inappropriate behavior surfaced, the show was renamed Live From Here.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of Chris Thile? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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