It’s a testament if anyone remembers your first gig as a band. In the case of Nickel Creek, their first gig occurred in 1989 at a pizza restaurant in Carlsbad, California. Playing music while others are gnawing on slices may not sound very glamorous but you have to give Nickel Creek a break. Two of the members had yet to turn nine and a third was a mere 12 years old.
Grammy Award-winning Nickel Creek is comprised of Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and her brother Sean Watkins. Sean was the 12-year-old. Chris and Sean had the same music instructor while Sara studied with their instructor’s bandmate. Nickel Creek is named after a song by Byron Berline.
Nickel Creek may not have been as popular as boy bands or girl groups of the era, but they worked steadily throughout the 1990s playing festivals and touring the country. Their first album, Little Cowpoke, dropped in 1993. They followed that up with Here to There in 1997.
Nickel Creek rose to national prominence in 2000 thanks to their self-titled release. The album was produced by Allison Krauss and peaked at number 13 on the U.S. Country album charts. It picked up two Grammy Award nominations and eventually earned a platinum certification.
The band’s next release, 2002’s This Side, and their fourth overall, saw them departing from their bluegrass roots and incorporating elements from other genres. They even covered a Pavement song. Their next album, Why Should the Fire Die? continued the band’s chart success (This Side peaked at #18, Why Should The Fire Die? at #17). Both albums were adored by critics.
At the end of their 2007 tour, the band went on hiatus. They returned in 2014 with a new album, A Dotted Line, and a tour. The year 2014 also marked the 25th anniversary of the band.
Nickel Creek is renowned for their creativity, musicianship, and humility. Over the years, the band has played all over the world including Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Lollapalooza. They’ve also played with the likes of John Mayer, Dolly Parton, Lyle Lovett, and Bela Fleck.