Tag Archives: Chris Thile

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.

Desert Island CDs

Desert Island CDs

Inspired by Adopting James’ post, My Favorite CD’s, Part 1, I thought about my music collection, and decided to compile a list of the CDs I can’t live without, the ones that would make being stranded on a desert island bearable (assuming I had something to play them on).

  1. Eagles: The Very Best of. 2 CD set. Have you seen History of the Eagles? Check it out on Netflix. Watching it (more than once) made me realize I didn’t have nearly enough Eagles music, so I bought this CD. I also have Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 on vinyl.
  1. Martha Masters: Guitar Recital. I love classical guitar—Julian Bream, Andres Segovia—Martha Masters is by far the best. She plays so cleanly. I especially love her interpretation of J.S. Bach’s Bourée—her playfulness comes through.
  2. Redemption Church: Who We Are. Full disclosure: I used to attend this church, and one of the things I loved about it was this worship team. That said, this is NOT your typical church band album. The compositions are mostly original, performed with virtuosity, with diverse styles and a variety of instruments. This music will draw you close to God.
  1. ThePianoGuys. Really, any of their CDs would do, but if I had to pick just one, it would be their self-titled first album. I was seriously addicted to Arwyn’s Vigil for a while.
  1. Adele: 21. This is one of the very few pop albums about which I can honestly say I love every single song. The girl is amazing.
  2. The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Bluegrass played by Chris Thile on mandolin, Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and banjo, Edgar Meyer on bass, and Aoife O’Donovan on vocals. Let me show you why you need this:

That’s it. Those are the ones I can’t live without. There are lots of other CDs that I like very much, but these are the crème de la crème.

What CDs make your Desert Island list? Share in the comments below.