Nickel Creek Changed the Course of Acoustic Music


News of a Nickel Creek reunion is music to my ears. They’ve been off the scene, as a unit, for about seven years, although all of the individual members kept pursuing music. Now, Chris Thile and siblings Sara and Sean Watkins have revealed that a new tour and new album are on the way.

Nickel Creek formed in 1989 when the members were just a trio of talented California kids, so their return coincides with the 25th anniversary of the band. Nonesuch Records will release A Dotted Line on April 1, with tour dates to follow.

The trio arrived on the national scene just as the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movement was underway and selling millions of albums by spotlighting old-time traditional music. As a counterpoint to the familiar voices on that soundtrack and accompanying tour, Nickel Creek offered a fresh and new approach to acoustic music. The instincts of their talented producer, Alison Krauss, certainly helped capture their boundless energy on record.

Nickel Creek’s 2000 self-titled debut reached gold status and their followup, This Side, repeated that feat and won a Grammy. The band also secured CMA nominations in 2001 and 2002 for Horizon Award and vocal group of the year. The eclectic Why Should the Fire Die? followed in 2005. Two years later, the band went on hiatus after playing a few shows at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Two songs from A Dotted Line have already surfaced online — “Destination” and “Love of Mine.” To balance those out, here are some of the ensemble’s best-known recordings from the early 2000s — “The Lighthouse’s Tale,” “Reasons Why,” “This Side” and “Smoothie Song.”