Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Beginning of the end, or end of the beginning?

When I was in college, I discovered this great, quirky band called Nickel Creek. (Thanks, Kevin.) I was skeptical at first, as I was raised on Long Island where the only people who listen to bluegrass chew on straw and marry their cousins, but I gave it a chance and soon enough I was in love.

If you haven't heard the band's music, then shame on you. People say all the time that a group's music is groundbreaking, but in this case it really was true. Nickel Creek somehow found a way to blend all sorts of genres, from bluegrass to classical and alt-rock. They cover everyone from Radiohead to Britney Spears in concert (listen to their version of "Toxic" on MySpace), because they're just that cool.

But yesterday some sad news was released. Nickel Creek, after three albums and some 17 years as a band, is hanging up the mandolin, so to speak.

"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," the group said on its web site.

Nickel Creek is currently on tour through Sept. 30, including a stop at UNC's Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 19 that I urge you all to get tickets for. The band's Durham-based label, Sugar Hill Records, will release a "Best of " compilation later this year.

After that? Who knows. Chris Thile is slated to release his umpteenth solo album, How to Grow a Woman From the Ground, on Sept. 12. After that he will tour and record with bassist Edgar Meyer. Sean Watkins has said he wants to score films, but also have some resemblance of a normal life. Sara Watkins is planning to release her own solo album and also collaborate with other friends and artists.

Order tickets for the group's Memorial Auditorium show here. Check their music out here and here.

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