Chris Thile

born on 20/2/1981

Chris Thile

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Chris Thile
Born February 20 1981
Oceanside, California, United States[1][2]

Christopher Scott Thile ( /ili/ THEE-lee; born February 20, 1981) is an American musician, best known as the mandolinist and a singer for the progressive acoustic trio Nickel Creek.[3][4] His current band is Punch Brothers whose most recent album is Antifogmatic. Thile's most recent albums are a duet recording with guitarist Michael Daves called Sleep With One Eye Open and The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan. He has also recorded five albums as a solo artist, debuting with Leading Off in 1994. Chris Thile has collaborated with many artists such as Mike Marshall, Béla Fleck, Mark O'Connor, Aoife O'Donovan, Glen Phillips, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma. Thile is a great-great-grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer Sam Thompson.

The three members of Nickel Creek met in Carlsbad, California at That Pizza Place in 1989, listening to weekly bluegrass shows with their parents. Soon they were taking lessons and then playing festivals, and even recording albums. Their first, Little Cowpoke, was released in 1994. Nickel Creek has gone on to record several more albums, including their self-titled debut album and This Side, which went platinum and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 2005, Nickel Creek released Why Should the Fire Die?, which received massive critical acclaim and sold 250,000 units.

Thile has released other solo albums, including the intricate Not All Who Wander Are Lost, released in 2001, and Deceiver in 2004 (in which he wrote, composed, sang, and played every part). In 2008, Thile released a collaboration album with bassist Edgar Meyer, and also plans to release a collaborative album with Hilary Hahn.[5][6]


1981-1999: Early life and career

Thile was born in Oceanside, California in 1981. His earliest memories of music are listening to Stan Getz's recording of "The Girl from Ipanema" before he even turned one year old. When he was two, his family started going to That Pizza Place, where he listened to John Moore's band Bluegrass Etc. When Thile was four, his family moved to Idyllwild, California.

Thile began playing the mandolin at the age of five, taking occasional lessons from John Moore. At age eight, Chris' family and the Watkins family formed Nickel Creek. The band performed at many California bluegrass festivals, and as a result Chris had to be home-schooled. At age twelve, he won the prestigious national mandolin championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.

That same year, 1993, Thile made a demo tape and sent it to the Sugar Hill and Rounder record labels. Both labels showed interest, but the Thiles went with Sugar Hill.[7] The next year Chris Thile released his first solo album, Leading Off, featuring mostly original compositions.

In 1995, the Thile family moved to Murray, Kentucky where Chris' father Scott Thile accepted a position at Murray State University as a musical instrument technician.[8][9] In 1997, Chris released Stealing Second and Nickel Creek released Here to There. Chris went on to attend Murray State University for a few semesters, where he was a music major.[10]

2000-2005: Wander and Deceiver

Main article: Not All Who Wander Are Lost (album)

Following the major success and platinum accreditation of the album Nickel Creek, Thile released Not All Who Wander Are Lost in 2001. The album featured guest appearances from several well-known instrumentalists such as Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, and Bryan Sutton.

In 2003, Thile teamed up with mandolinist Mike Marshall for the duet album Into the Cauldron, which included original pieces as well as pieces by Charlie Parker and J. S. Bach. Also in 2003, Thile joined Mark O'Connor for his double CD set "Thirty-Year Retrospective" which was nominated for a Grammy. In 2004, Thile released Deceiver, an experimental album on which he recorded every track himself. This included electric guitar, piano, drums, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Deceiver demonstrated some pop/rock songwriting in addition to "newgrass."

2006-Present: Punch Brothers and Edgar Meyer project

Main article: How to Grow a Woman from the Ground

In August 2006, Nickel Creek announced via Billboard Magazine and their official website that at the end of the year they would no longer be recording together as a group, and their tour scheduled through 2007 would be their last for an indefinite period of time. This opened the way for Chris Thile to pursue new projects.

Thile was also a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[11]

In 2006, Thile formed the How to Grow a Band, with whom he recorded How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, Thile's fifth album. In an interview with the Nashville City Paper, Thile described the formation of the band:

"We got together one night just to drop a ton of money, drink too much wine, eat steaks, and commiserate about our failed relationships. We had gotten to play together a few days before and we had said that we needed to do something musical together. With our hearts smashed to pieces, it became more urgent our lives had gone the same way for so long. I knew I wanted to have a band with Gabe [Witcher], but I didnt know if it would be a rock ensemble, an ambitious acoustic classical thing or a bluegrass group. We played, and there was a serious, instantaneous connection. Then I knew I wanted to put together a bluegrass band one with a lot of range, but aesthetically a bluegrass band." [12]

The band consisted of Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Greg Garrison (bass), and Noam Pikelny (banjo). Bryan Sutton has also filled in on guitar when necessary while Eldridge played out commitments to The Infamous Stringdusters. In 2007, the band officially changed its name first to "The Tensions Mountain Boys" and then "Punch Brothers."

On March 17, 2007, this group debuted Thile's most ambitious work to date at Carnegie Hall: "The Blind Leaving the Blind", a forty minute suite in four movements. Thile says the piece was written in part to deal with his divorce of 2004.

Punch Brothers released their first album, Punch, February 26, 2008 on Nonesuch Records. The album featured Thile's suite "The Blind Leaving the Blind", as well as other original songs.[6]

To promote Punch, Thile and Punch Brothers planned a year-long tour in 2008, as well as a February 29 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[13] In late 2008, Paul Kowert replaced Greg Garrison on bass. The Punch Brothers released Antifogmatic on February 15, 2010 and continue to actively tour. On November 5, 2010 The Punch Brothers performed "Rye Whiskey" on 'The Late Show With David Letterman' with Steve Martin guesting on banjo.

In August 2008, Thile and bassist Edgar Meyer announced the release date of the duo's planned debut album. The album was released on Thile's label Nonesuch Records on September 23, 2008.[14] Commenting on the collaboration, Thile said "Edgar is one of the biggest influences on my musical life, and now Im in a duo with him and writing songs with him. This was my dream. I always wondered what it would be like to be playing music this hard."[15] The duo toured in September and October 2008 to promote the album.

Side projects

Thile's career has been successful, especially for one so young. He is also featured in the documentary Bluegrass Journey, along with the rest of Nickel Creek, and still maintains an active touring schedule. An in-demand studio musician, he has also appeared on a number of other artists' recordings, including Béla Fleck's Perpetual Motion, playing arrangements of Baroque, Impressionist, Classical and other styles of music with Fleck and Edgar Meyer, the CD "Jam Session" with Mark O'Connor Frank Vignola Bryan Sutton and Jon Burr, the Dixie Chicks' Home, Kate Rusby's Awkward Annie, Julie Fowlis' Cuilidh, Dolly Parton's Little Sparrow, Dierks Bentley's Up on the Ridge, and Sarah Jarosz's Follow Me Down.

Thile and Michael Daves released their debut album "Sleep With One Eye Open" on May 10, 2011. Recorded at Jack White's studio, the album consists of 16 classic bluegrass duets. While he didn't produced their album, he did, however, produce and play on the duo's blue series release on Third Man Records. Thile and Daves met in 2005 at the bluegrass jam at NYC's Baggot Inn.[16]

In 2009 Thile completed a mandolin concerto entitled Ad astra per alas porci. The work was commissioned by a consortium of orchestras including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Winston-Salem Symphony, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Thile performed the world premiere of the first movement with the Interlochen Arts Camp World Youth Symphony Orchestra under director Jung-Ho Pak, and premiered his entire concerto with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 17, 2009.[17][18][19][20]

In 2011 he recorded The Goat Rodeo Sessions with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddle player Stuart Duncan.[21]

On October 25, 2011 he appeared on the Jay Leno show as a member of the Yo-Yo Ma and Friends musical act. [22]

Awards and nominations

  • 1997 - Won Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album for True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe
  • 1997 - Nominated for Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Scotland" from True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe
  • 1997 - IBMA award for Album of the Year for True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe
  • 2001 - IBMA award for Mandolinist of the Year
  • 2002 - Won Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for "This Side" (with Nickel Creek)
  • 2005 - Nominated for Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for Deceiver
  • 2006 - Nominated for Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance for "The Eleventh Reel"
  • 2007 - BBC's Folk Musician of the Year
  • 2007 - Nominated for IBMA Mandolinist of the Year
  • 2008 - Nominated for Americana Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year



Title Album details Peak chart positions
US Grass US Country US Indie US Heat
Leading Off
  • Release date: September 25, 1994
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
Stealing Second
  • Release date: March 18, 1997
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
  • Release date: October 9, 2001
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
  • Release date: October 12, 2004
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
How to Grow a Woman from the Ground
  • Release date: September 12, 2006
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
2 46 27 28
"" denotes releases that did not chart


Title Album details Peak chart positions
US Grass US Country US US Heat US Classic
Into the Cauldron
(with Mike Marshall)
  • Release date: May 13, 2003
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
6 71
Live: Duets
(with Mike Marshall)
  • Release date: January 24, 2006
  • Label: Sugar Hill Records
Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile
(with Edgar Meyer)
Sleep with One Eye Open[23]
(with Michael Daves)
  • Release date: May 10, 2011
  • Label: Nonesuch Records
3 34 3
The Goat Rodeo Sessions[24]
(with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan)
1 18 1
"" denotes releases that did not chart

Nickel Creek

Main article: Nickel Creek discography

Punch Brothers

  • 2008: Punch
  • 2010: Antifogmatic
  • 2012: Who's Feeling Young Now?

Mutual Admiration Society

  • 2004 Mutual Admiration Society (Nickel Creek and Glen Phillips)


  1. "Chris Thile: Covering the Bases". May 20, 1999. Retrieved August 30, 2007.
  2. "AETN Presents: Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile". AETN. May 14, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  3. [Chris Thile at All Music Guide allmusic ((( Chris Thile > Overview )))]
  4. Bluegrass Bios
  5. Tensions Mountain Boys at Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall (2007-03-17). Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nonesuch Records Signs Singer/Composer/Mandolinist Chris Thile and His New Band, Punch Brothers. All About Jazz (2007-10-09). Retrieved on 2007-10-10.
  7. Chris Thile: Covering the Bases. (1999-05-20). Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
  11. Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  12. Nickel Creeks Thile grows a new band. Nashville City Paper (2006-08-23). Archived from the original on 2006-08-26. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  13. "Show Calendar: Week of February 25 - February 29". NBC. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  14. Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer Preview New Album at Aspen". Nonesuch Records. August 13, 2008. August 18, 2008.
  15. "Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile | Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  16. Klein, Bradley. Chris Thile and Michael Daves Interview. Mandolin Cafe. Retrieved on May 9, 2011.

External links

  • Punch Brothers' website
  • Nickel Creek's website
  • Chris Thile and Michael Daves Interview Pt I
  • Nickel Creek at MySpace
  • Punch Brothers at MySpace
  • The Tensions Mountain Boys at MySpace
  • How to Grow A Band at MySpace
  • Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers at Telluride Bluegrass Festival
  • How to Grow A Woman from the Ground Review on
  • Chris Thile Interview and Feature Article
  • 10 Questions For Chris Thile Interview
  • NewMusicBox cover: Chris Thile in conversation with Frank J. Oteri, October 27, 2008 (includes video)
  • Chris Thile Bio


  • Listen and/or watch Chris Thile on 5 episodes of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour: #165 as a member of Nickel Creek; #199 Chris Thile with Bryan Sutton; #287 Chris Thile and Mike Marshall, another master of the mandolin; #416 Chris Thile and the How To Grow a Band, #506 Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile
This page was last modified 10.02.2012 05:36:28

This article uses material from the article Chris Thile from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.