Nickel Creek, At Its Best Yet

Nickel Creek

Saturday, May 17

Contrary to what some might have believed in the wake of Nickel Creek’s final (at the time) tour in 2007 and the lengthy hiatus which followed, the band did not break up.

“When we started the indefinite hiatus, we made sure to call it just that,” says guitarist Sean Watkins. “Our last tour was called the ‘Farewell (For Now) Tour’ because we needed space to do other things.”

Those who mistakenly thought the Grammy Award–winning trio had called it quits can be forgiven, seeing as how singer/fiddler Sara Watkins and singer/mandolinist Chris Thile both went on to successful solo careers in the interim, while Thile and Watkins also strutted their stuff with the Punch Brothers and Fiction Family, respectively. For all intents and purposes, it seemed as if the trio had moved on. But then they started talking again last year, and with the 25th anniversary of the band’s 1989 formation on the horizon, the timing seemed right to give the group another shot.

Though when they entered the studio to record their latest album, A Dotted Line, there was some trepidation. “We hadn’t written in almost nine years or played onstage since the last tour, so there were some question marks as to whether or not it was going to work,” says Watkins. “But once we got into the same room together, everything started clicking.”

Line, which debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 last month, captures the band’s classic bluegrass flair, proving they are still masters of the country style. Each member is as vocally and musically impressive and complementary as ever, whether on the driving “Destination” or the more thoughtful “Rest of My Life.” They even take Mother Mother’s progressive rock-meets-’80s-new-wave track “Hayloft”—about young lovers getting caught by a shotgun-wielding parent—and skillfully turn it into a rollicking bluegrass track.

The album is arguably the band’s most cohesive work yet, and Watkins knows why. “Before we took a break, we were trying to fit all the things we wanted to do, musically, into Nickel Creek because it was our only outlet,” he says. “But now, having done a lot of stuff outside the band, we [have some] perspective on what makes the band what it is, so now we’re just letting the band be what it naturally wants to be.” With the Secret Sisters. The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 682-1414, 8 p.m. $32.50–$42.50. All ages.

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